Dublin, Ireland – in a 52 to 2 decision, Dublin city Council voted to revoke the “Freedom of the city” award given to Myanmars de-factor leader, Aung San Sun Kyi. Yesterday, U2 written a letter to the Dublin city Council urging them to take this action, though it’s not likely that pressure from U2 or Bob Geldof (who returned his Feeedom of the city award) played any role in the decision.
The U2 letter, contents of which were revealed to several Irish media outlets earlier this week, states that Suu Kyi’s failure to protect the Rohingya minority in Myanmar “constitutes a betrayal of the principles for which she was so revered and for which she received the Freedom of the City”
U2 received the award on the same day as Suu Kyi, and subsequently wrote the song walk on to highlight her unjust incarceration by Myanmar’s ruling military. The band actively campaigned for her release, including pressuring the US and several European governments to create sanctions against the regime. Suu Kyi does not control the Myanmar military, but she has consistently refused to speak out against the atrocities that have led to over 600,000 Rohingya crossing into neighboring Bangladesh.
Dublin city Council is due to meet this month to decide whether to amend its procedures to allow the revoking of the award.
The full text of the letter follows:
We write as long-time supporters of Amnesty International, and as extremely proud recipients of the Freedom of the City. We remember very clearly the day when we received that honour alongside Aung San Suu Kyi whose son Kim accepted on her behalf.
The day was a very special one for us first and foremost because Dublin is our hometown. Of the various “awards” – deserved or not – we’ve been lucky enough to receive over the years, this is by far the one that means the most to us. It was also special because we’d been so moved by the strength and fortitude shown by Aung San Suu Kyi in then-Burma. We were campaigning for her release and were proud of Dublin’s recognition of her courage, and that of her colleagues, to bring about fledgling democracy against all odds… against one of the most brutal regimes of modern times.
So it saddens us to be writing to you today as you discuss recent events in Myanmar and decide whether that merits the rescinding of the honour you bestowed on her.
We believe it does.
You have the same facts as we have, which indicate that deliberate and brutal violence, rape, and murder are being used to drive the Rohingya from Rakhine State. This persecution has been authorised and led by Min Aung Hlaing, the Head of Myanmar’s military. While Aung San Suu Kyi does not have the capacity to control the military, she does have the responsibility to condemn their actions.
The civilian government that she leads is responsible for everyone in her country, and no matter how difficult her position is, to stand by while half a million lives and livelihoods are deliberately decimated by the Myanmar Military is beyond comprehension. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
The decision of who should and shouldn’t have this honour lies with you. But we felt compelled to write given our history with you, and with Aung San Suu Kyi. We believe her failure to stand up for the rights of the Rohingya constitutes a betrayal of the principles for which she was so revered… and for which she received the Freedom of the City. The City of Dublin sent a very strong message in defence of human rights in 1999, we believe an equally strong message in defence of human rights is just as important now.
Thanks for your time.
Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton