Boomtoom Rats frontman and charity campaigner Bob Geldof has described Myanmar’s de facto leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi as a “pig” and “handmaiden to ethnic cleansing”.
He made the remarks on RTÉ’s Late Late Show last night while explaining why he handed back the Freedom of the City of Dublin last November.
He said that, as a Dubliner, he was very sorry to do so, but he could not stomach having his name on the same roll of honour as a woman who was “an accomplice to rape” in her own country.
“Burning people alive, raping women as they held their babies and in front of the women when they finished raping them, they burned the babies alive,” he said. “That’s a fact and it is on film. I don’t want to be associated with this pig once.”
Suu Kyi was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 2000 by Dublin City Council.
She was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1991 “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”. She spent 15 years under house arrest for charges of trying to divide the military.
Now, she is the subject of international criticism for failing to halt the persecution of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state.
Geldof said he had been criticised for “grandstanding” after he made his protest last November, but that he did “not want to be associated with those people”.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to, it’s a lovely thing,” he said. “It’s on my wall, not many things that I have are on my wall. I took it off and undid the frame and rolled it up and thought, ‘Jaysus we’ll do it anyway’.”
It was a tough decision because the honour is not handed out liberally, he said.
“[Ryan] Tubridy, if you showed up in London they’d give it to you, I mean they sort of hand it out,” he said. “But in Dublin it is quite precious.
“And my dad was there, the kids were there. It was a great day and Ronnie Delaney was getting it on the same day. What is not to like, what’s not to be proud of?
“Then I saw that Aung San Suu Kyi was on it because she got it on the day that I spoke welcome to her. And I thought ‘that’s a disgrace’, there shouldn’t be, in effect, an accomplice to murder, at least, on this thing.
“That’s a disgrace to that roll of honour, it dishonours it.
“And as that roll of honour is on behalf of Dubliners and Dublin, I didn’t want to make it a big thing, but I thought she should be taken off, no big deal.”
Councillors voted last December to rescind the Freedom of the City from Suu Kyi and instructed that her name be removed from the Roll of Honorary Freedom.
Geldof said last night that he would like to have the honour back, but it is not in his hands.
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