Bob Geldof re­turns award in protest against Suu Kyi for al­low­ing per­se­cu­tion of Ro­hingya

UK con­demns Myan­mar ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’


LON­DON: The UK gov­ern­ment on Mon­day said the ac­tions of mil­i­tary forces in Myan­mar against the Ro­hingya peo­ple

“looks like eth­nic cleans­ing.”

Theresa May’s spokesman said: “We’ve been ap­palled by the in­hu­mane vi­o­lence that’s tak­ing place in Rakhine state.

“It’s a ma­jor hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis. It’s been cre­ated by the Burmese mil­i­tary and it looks like eth­nic cleans­ing.”

More than 600,000 of the Mus­lim eth­nic mi­nor­ity from Myan­mar’s Rakhine state have re­port­edly fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh amid the mil­i­tary clear­ance op­er­a­tions.

The UK gov­ern­ment’s com­ments came on the same day that Ir­ish mu­si­cian and anti-poverty ac­tivist Bob Geldof said he would re­turn his “Free­dom of the City of Dublin” award to his home­town, say­ing he re­fused to hold the honor in con­junc­tion with Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine has prompted global calls for Suu Kyi to be stripped of all her for­mer hu­man rights ac­co­lades be­cause she has not con­demned the Myan­mar mil­i­tary’s ac­tions.

“I am a very proud Dubliner but can­not in all con­science con­tinue to be one of the hon­ored few to have re­ceived this great trib­ute whilst Aung San Suu Kyi re­mains among that num­ber,” Geldof said in a state­ment.

“Her as­so­ci­a­tion with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by de­fault. We hon­ored her, now she ap­palls and shames us,” Geldof said.

“The mo­ment she is stripped of her Dublin Free­dom per­haps the Coun­cil would see fit to re­store to me that which I take such pride in. If not so be it. Please ac­cept this small ges­ture and the sad­ness that ac­com­pa­nies it.”

In a state­ment is­sued on Mon­day the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ardm­heara Micheal Mac Don­n­cha, said: “Bob Geldof is en­ti­tled to re­turn his award if he wishes to do so. It should be pointed out that as Ardm­heara I have con­demned the per­se­cu­tion of the Ro­hingya peo­ple and their ex­pul­sion from their homes by the mil­i­tary in Myan­mar and the fail­ure of Aung San Suu Kyi to even ac­knowl­edge, let alone con­demn, what the UN has de­scribed as eth­nic cleans­ing.”

He added: “I have met Ro­hingya rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Ire­land and I am pledged to as­sist them. When I raised the is­sue of re­mov­ing the Free­dom of the City from the Myan­mar leader, a con­sen­sus was not reached among the groups on the city coun­cil, though all have con­demned the per­se­cu­tion of the Ro­hingya peo­ple, and the mat­ter is not closed.”

Last month Suu Kyi was stripped of a sim­i­lar honor by the Bri­tish univer­sity city of Ox­ford, where she was an un­der­grad­u­ate.

The Univer­sity of Bris­tol, one of the sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties to award hon­orary de­grees to the Burmese leader dur­ing her time in op­po­si­tion, has also said it is re­view­ing its award in light of ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­treat­ment of the Ro­hingya.

A spokesper­son for the Univer­sity of Bris­tol told Arab News: “The univer­sity shares the grow­ing con­cern with the on­go­ing sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar. In 1998, we awarded an hon­orary de­gree of Doc­tor of Laws to Dr. Aung San Suu Kyi, who at the time was lead­ing the strug­gle for hu­man rights and democ­racy in the then Burma. In terms of this award, it would be wrong to make any de­ci­sion at this time to con­sider re­vok­ing such an honor but we will con­tinue to mon­i­tor and re­view the sit­u­a­tion as nec­es­sary.”

Uni­son, the UK’s sec­ond-largest trade union, con­firmed to Arab News that it had sus­pended Suu Kyi’s hon­orary mem­ber­ship in Septem­ber and that the sit­u­a­tion in Burma will be “dis­cussed” at UNI­SON’s next in­ter­na­tional com­mit­tee meet­ing later this month to con­sider the “next steps.”

In­ter­na­tional hu­man rights char­ity Amnesty In­ter­na­tional (AI) has car­ried out ex­ten­sive re­search on the cur­rent Ro­hingya cri­sis, as well as the long-term pat­tern of dis­crim­i­na­tion against the Ro­hingya in north­ern Rakhine State.

An AI spokesper­son told Arab News: “This is a clear case of eth­nic cleans­ing. In le­gal terms, Amnesty in­ter­na­tional has con­sis­tently doc­u­mented six sep­a­rate types of crimes against hu­man­ity be­ing com­mit­ted against the Ro­hingya amid the cur­rent cri­sis: mur­der, de­por­ta­tion and forcible dis­place­ment, tor­ture, rape and other sex­ual vi­o­lence, per­se­cu­tion, and other in­hu­mane acts such as deny­ing food and other life-sav­ing pro­vi­sions.

“Our on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cri­sis has been in­formed by mul­ti­ple re­search trips to the Myan­mar/Bangladesh bor­der since the cur­rent wave of vi­o­lence be­gan, as well as ex­pert anal­y­sis of satel­lite im­agery and other re­mote sens­ing tech­nol­ogy that has re­vealed the dev­as­tat­ing scale of the Myan­mar mil­i­tary’s tar­geted, scorched-earth cam­paign against Ro­hingya.”

The char­ity said it would is­sue a com­pre­hen­sive new re­port in late Novem­ber, based on two years of re­search, “cov­er­ing the per­va­sive and long-stand­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against Ro­hingya that is one of the root causes be­hind this cri­sis.”

Ir­ish mu­si­cian Bob Geldof, right, holds aloft his Free­dom of the City of Dublin scroll as he pre­pares to re­turn it at Dublin City Hall, in Dublin, on Mon­day. (AFP)

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