Calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Edinburgh freedom

Institutes across the UK have started to review honours given to Myanmar's First State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi
Institutes across the UK have started to review honours given to Myanmar's First State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

The Capital’s Lord Provost will write to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on behalf of Edinburgh condemning the violence in the country amidst calls to strip the former peace icon of having the freedom of the city.

It is understood the Lord Provost has plans to raise a motion at a meeting of the next full council, with a view to writing to Ms Suu Kyi condemning the violence in Myanmar and calling on the leader to use her influence to intervene.

The pro-democracy leader, who was honoured with the Freedom of the City in 2005, has drawn increasing criticism for her silence following the treatment of the country’s Rohingya minority as institutes across the UK have started to review honours awarded to her.

Over half a million Muslim Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh from Buddhist-majority Myanmar since late August, when militant Rohingya attacks led to a violent crackdown by the army.

The council’s former petitions convenor and Greens councillor for Leith, Chas Booth, said elected members should consider removing the honour from Ms Suu Kyi.

He said: “Given what Amnesty International have said about what is happening to the Rohingya people in Mynamar – which has been defined as ethnic cleansing – and given the de facto leader is Aung Sun Suu Kyi she is, in a sense, at least partly responsible for what happens there.

“In which case, we should definitely debate whether it is appropriate for her to have the Freedom of the City.

“The award is only given to people of outstanding achievement and I do wonder whether, given her inaction in the face of the horrific acts against Rohingya people, she still falls into that category.

“So, it’s absolutely right in mind that we debate the issue. I wouldn’t want to prejudge whether the Freedom should indeed be stripped from her but we should absolutely have the debate.”

It is the highest civic honour the city bestows and is granted to individuals who have distinguished themselves or to recognise the respect and high esteem in which they are held by the people of the City.

Aung San Suu Kyi currently joins the Queen, Prince Philip, Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela, Sir Chris Hoy and Professor Peter Higgs to enjoy the rare honour.

The move comes as cities across the country, including Glasgow, London and Oxford, are reconsidering the de facto leader’s inclusion on their honours list.

Ms Suu Kyi, who completed her undergraduate degree at Oxford University, was granted the honour in 1997 for her “struggle for democracy”. But Oxford City Council voted unanimously to support a motion that said it was “no longer appropriate” to celebrate Ms Suu Kyi as the city’s reputation was being “tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence”.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk