Councillors urged to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of Brighton and Hove

Posted On 31 Jan 2018 at 11:00 pm

Councillors are being urged to strip Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city at a special meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council.

If two thirds of the 54 councillors agree, the honour – granted in 2011 – will be revoked in response to the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi was feted while under house arrest as a political prisoner. She was named guest director of the Brighton Festival in 2011 and honoured with the freedom of the city.

But she has fallen out of favour since the Rohingya crisis, prompting Green and Labour councillors to combine last month to propose withdrawing the honour. They were backed in a vote by the Conservatives too.

The council’s constitution requires the formal decision to be taken at a special council meeting which will take place at Hove Town Hall at 3pm tomorrow (Thursday 1 February).

Long-serving Green councillor Pete West said: “From the outset Greens have been clear that silence in the face of widespread oppression, genocide and abuse has no place in Brighton and Hove, a city known for its ‘City of Sanctuary’ status.

“A key US diplomat advising the Myanmar government has resigned over Aung San Suu Kyi’s appalling dismissal of the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya people.

“Other councils have moved swiftly to revoke the ‘Freewoman of the City’ status from Aung San Suu Kyi citing it as inappropriate given their values.

“The unnecessary dithering of the Labour group over this issue has meant Brighton and Hove has been unable to act despite the important issue being raised many months ago.

“I hope that tomorrow the council can agree to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi’s Freewoman of the City status and finally make clear that these atrocities do not go unnoticed.”

Aung San Suu Kyi

The Greens, who tried to start the process of removing the honour in November, criticised the Myanmar leader for her failure even to speak out over the persecution of the Rohingya people.

The party said that the United Nations had described it as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” at the hands of the Mynamar state military.

Recent estimates suggest that more than 700,000 people have fled the violence there, with reports emerging of massacres and human rights abuses on a scale that has been labelled as tantamount to genocide.

Green councillors expect Brighton and Hove to follow other authorities such as Dublin and Oxford in stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of her local honour.

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