Galway city council will debate next month whether to rescind Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freedom of Galway City.
The council’s procedures committee met on December 10 and voted in favour of motion from Mayor of Galway Niall McNelis recommending that the council rescind the Freedom of the City award.
That recommendation was brought to the monthly meeting of the full council this week for councillors’ consideration.
Galway awarded the symbolic award to Suu Kyi in 2005 while she was under house arrest for her work promoting democracy in Myanmar and ending the military junta.
However in the past few years since she took office the Nobel Laurate has come under international criticism which accuses her of ignoring crimes against humanity.
The military of Myanmar, a largely Buddhist country, is accused of turning a bling eye to horrific massacres of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims by the military.
Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and forced from the country by atrocities documented by journalists and international observers including mass graves, destroyed villages, gang rapes, and the murder of children.
In a growing crackdown on attempts to shed light on this Myanmar has jailed two Reuters journalists who reported on the Rohingya crisis for seven years for violating the country’s state secrets act.
Suu Kyi has faced strong criticism for refusing to condemn the massacre of the Rohingya people and even refuses to use the term Rohingya, questioning whether can truly be considered citizens of Myanmar.
Many other honours which have been bestowed on Aung San Suu Kyi have since been revoked.
The question on rescinding her Freedom of the City of Galway was referred to the procedures committee as it had not been done before, and the council needed advice on how to proceed.
The committee received legal advice that it could follow the same method as Dublin did in December 2017, and rescind the original motion to bestow the Freedom of the City.
Though the matter was due to be voted on this week, the council decided to defer to matter to a special meeting on February 4 where it could be properly debated.
“It’s a serious thing to give someone the Freedom of the City,” said councillor Mike Crowe, “it’s arguably more serious to revoke it.”
He argued that a lot of the information out their regarding Ms Suu Kyi is opinion, and he would like to be properly presented with relevant evidence before voting.
Rohingya Action Ireland, an activist group representing the small Ronhingya community here, has urged the council to revoke her honour.
“By Galway City Council rescinding the honour, it sends a message and clear statement indicating an opposition to Islamophobia, sectarianism, discrimination and blatant human rights abuses against my people,” said chairperson of RAI Mohammed Rafique, a Ronhingya refugee living in Carlow.