Both Bob Geldof and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been stripped of the Freedom of Dublin.
The award was given to Suu Kyi in 2012 after her release from house arrest by the military that run Burma - also known as Myanmar - in Southeast Asian. Then she was hailed as akin to a Burmese Mandela, a heroine and a champion of democracy human rights.
Now councillors have voted by a landslide of 59 votes to two to revoke the award after reports emerged of the Burmese military killing thousands of Rohingya in what the UN has described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Despite living in Burma for centuries, the Rohingya have long faced discrimination and lacked civil and political rights. Médecins Sans Frontières believe at least 6,700 have been killed in recent months and 647,000 have fled the country to nearby Bangladesh.
The Burmese Government says only 400 have died and Suu Kyi, who serves as the nation’s first State Counsellor, has rejected international reports of ethnic cleansing.
“I don’t think there is ethnic cleansing going on,” Suu Kyi told the BBC in April. “I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening.“
Last month Bob Geldof decried her as a “handmaiden to genocide” and handed back his own Freedom of Dublin award in protest.
“I don’t want to give this up, I’m really proud of it, you know?” Geldof told reporters outside City Hall, scroll in hand.
“And you know I get handed things by states and cities around the world, but I’m a Dub and this meant very much to me. I don’t want to do it, but it’s the most I can do and the least.
“Aung San Suu Kyi was extravagantly welcomed to this city and I was a participant to that and it turned out that she’s a killer, and I don’t want to be on the same list as what the UN described as a genocide.
“And perhaps she should appear at the Hague tribunal. Dublin should not have any truck with this woman. She’s let us Dubliners down and she’s let Ireland down, because we thought she was one thing and we’ve been duped. She’s a murderer.”
But his protest did not impress Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha of Sinn Féin.
Geldof was “entitled” to return the award, he said before adding, “I find it ironic that he makes this gesture while proudly retaining his title as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe.”
Now the council has also voted to remove Bob Geldof from its list, citing his decision to hand back the award.
I don't have the same dislike of Bob Geldof that seems prevalent on social media, but even I smiled when I read how Dublin City Council voted to remove Aung San Suu Kyi from the Freedom of the City list. Then immediately followed it with a vote to remove Geldof (per his request).— Jim Bliss (@JimBliss23) December 14, 2017
CEO of Dublin City Council, Owen Keegan, said, "it was clear he wanted to hand it [the award] back. It was not conditional".
But Geldof has hit back, saying he’s “disgusted” that the honor was revoked at the same time at Suu Kyi’s, as he’d always said if she was removed from the list he would be happy to continue as a Freeman of Dublin.