Aung San Suu Kyi may be stripped of freedom of Dublin City

The UN has warned the situation in Myanmar "seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing"

Aung San Suu Kyi may be stripped of freedom of Dublin City

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, 06-09-2017. Image: AP Photo

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi could become the first person to be stripped of the freedom of Dublin city.

The de facto leader of Myanmar – also known as Burma – was awarded the Irish honour in 2012 following a two-decade struggle for democracy in the South East Asian country.

However, she has come in for increasing criticism in recent weeks as international concern mounts over the persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

The UN Human Rights Chief has warned that the treatment of the Muslim Rohingya population in the country's Rakhine state appears to be a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Over 300,000 people are believed to have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks as the Burmese police and army continue a violent crackdown in response to attacks by insurgents on police posts last month.

Tens of thousands more are believed to be on the move as conditions in the state deteriorate.

The UN has warned it is receiving “constant reports” of violent attacks by security forces – with claims that thousands of people have been killed or tortured.

A Rohingya woman carries her child while walking through a rice field after crossing the border into Bangladesh 05-09-2017. Image: Mushfiqul Alam/NurPhoto/SipaUSA

Freedom of the city

As international controversy rages over the crackdown – and Ms Suu Kyi’s defence of her government’s actions – a number of Dublin councillors have called for her freedom of Dublin City award to be revoked.

Independent councillor Nial Ring said the motion will be voted on tomorrow morning - adding that there is significant support for the proposal.

“We feel so strongly about what is happening in Myanmar to the Rohingya minority there that we have asked the chief executive to get the legal department and the legal team to look at what are the mechanisms, procedures and legalities involved in removing the freedom of the city from someone,” he said.

“If it turns out that what the reports are [saying] is happening in Myanmar under the watchful eye of Aung San Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Prize winner – well then I think our fellow members may agree to the rescinding of the freedom of the city.”

Crimes against humanity

Late last week, Ms Suu Kyi broke her silence on the situation, essentially claiming the reports of violence had been exaggerated and warning that her government was facing its “biggest challenge.”

She claimed “terrorists” were responsible for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” over the crisis.

However, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has warned that the “pattern of gross violations of the human rights of the Rohingya” could amount to crimes against humanity.

"Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, but the situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," he said.

Nobel Peace Prize

Several of Ms Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu – have criticised her over her handling of the situation.

An online petition calling for her to be stripped of her Nobel Prize has received nearly 412,000 signatures online.

Struggle for democracy

Ms Suu Kyi spent almost 15 of the 21 years between 1989 to 2010 under house arrest in Myanmar.

She was a key figure in the 1988 uprisings against the Burma Socialist Programme Party, which had run the country since 1962.

During the struggle Ms Suu Kyi formed the National League for Democracy (NLFD) – which won 81% of the vote in national elections in 1990.

However, the military junta that had taken control of the country following the uprising refused to hand over power.

In 2015 the party won another landslide victory - eventually seeing Ms Suu Kyi installed as head of government in the newly created role of State Counsellor.