For Immediate Release
ROHINGYA COMMUNITY AND IRISH SUPPORTERS URGE GALWAY CITY COUNCIL TO STAND AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
Galway City Council have taken the first steps to remove the Freedom of the city of Galway from Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The council will meet on Monday December 10th and will take a vote on whether or not to rescind the status from Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms Suu Kyi has held the honour since 2005. In recent years the level of human rights abuses carried out by the military in Myanmar against the Rohingya and Ms. Suu Kyi’s silence in condemning them have been widely reported. The small Rohingya community in Ireland, who came here as refugees in 2009, have requested the Galway City Council take back the freedom award, saying it is at odds with Ireland’s reputation as a refuge for the persecuted.
Nobel prize winner and one of the world’s best-known political prisoners, Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the freedom of Galway City in 2005 for her work and dedication to the Burmese freedom and democracy movement. She has gathered countless other awards from international bodies and institutions, including an honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin. Her silence on the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar has been widely condemned.
Mohammed Rafique, chairperson of Rohingya Action Ireland and a Rohingya refugee living in Carlow is well aware of the on-going denial of Human Rights Atrocities. “The UN’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (IIFFMM) was clear in its condemnation of the Myanmar Military and Aung San Suu Kyi. The evidence is there. We know what the Myanmar military is doing. Stripping any honour from Aung San Suu Kyi will not change the genocide that has occurred in Myanmar. 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”. Rohingya Action Ireland works to highlight human rights abuses in Myanmar and is very concerned around the lack of international condemnation by politicians in relation to the behaviour of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar military. Secretary of Rohingya Action Ireland, Stephanie McDermott stated, “We know the level of atrocities that have occurred and are ongoing. The Rohingya suffer horrendous human rights abuses and are in very precarious situations. The abuses have been well documented. Military leaders and Aung San Suu Kyi need to be held accountable and should face prosecution by the International Criminal Court”.
Returning to Ireland from the Global Minorities Forum in Geneva, Anastasia Crickley former President of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination said, “The removal of the freedom of Galway City from Aung San Suu Kyi would be an act of solidarity and a clear statement from the West of Ireland of a commitment to supporting the global calls for human rights and justice for the Rohingya. The few Rohingya leaders able to make the journey to Geneva for the Global Minorities Forum gave evidence of rights abuses against those who voluntarily returned to Myanmar and of the atrocities inflicted upon the almost for the one million women, men and children in mud-soaked refugee camps across the border who struggle to survive. They called for support from communities everywhere. Galway City Councils withdrawal of the City will respond to that call”.
Ann Irwin, Co-ordinator of Galway City Community Network added the networks voice to the call stating that “by her refusal to condemn these atrocities and take action against them, Aung San Suu Kyi is widely regarded as being closely aligned with them – it is therefore absolutely right that the Freedom of the City should be revoked for her as a symbol of the people of Galways support for the Rohingya community”.
Rachel Doyle, co-ordinator of Community Work Ireland the national network of community development workers based in Galway said; “ In June 2018, at the World Community Development Conference in Maynooth University Mary Robinson and Minister Seán Kyne visited the photographic exhibition of Rohingya Action Ireland, depicting the horrific reality of the lives of those who continue to suffer the most appalling human rights abuses against the Rohingya people including those afflicted on women, children and older people. In removing the freedom of Galway City from Aung San Suu Kyi, Galway City Council will be taking a progressive and deliberate stand against such atrocities”.
Note to the Editor
Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar military have been responsible for decades of atrocities against the Rohingya people and has come under international pressure to admit to human rights atrocities. Mohammed Rafique. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country and has been accused of ethnic cleansing of its minority Rohingya Muslim population. Ms Suu Kyi has denied all allegations of violence including rape being used as a weapon by the Myanmar Military.
Carlow based Rohingya Action Ireland has called for the recognition of Ethnic Status/Self-Identity of the Rohingya; end persecution and genocide against the Rohingya and crimes against humanity; end the deportation of the Rohingya and hold accountable the Myanmar government for their human rights abuses; the return of the Rohingya to a Protected Homeland.