Move to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of Brighton and Hove fails to win enough votes

Posted On 01 Feb 2018 at 8:42 pm

A move to strip Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi of the freedom of the city of Brighton and Hove failed to win enough votes at a special council meeting this afternoon (Thursday 1 February).

Most of the Labour and Green councillors who were present for the debate at Hove Town Hall backed the proposal but fell short of the two thirds majority required to revoke the honour.

Proposing the motion, council leader Warren Morgan said: “It is with great sadness that I am proposing that this council removes the freedom of the city from Aung San Suu Kyi it awarded her in 2011.

“Her failure to speak up against the violence inflicted on the Rohingya Muslims is in conflict with our City of Sanctuary values of human rights and democracy.

“It is in conflict with the spirit in which we awarded her this honour. It is in conflict with the hope that we all placed in her for a better future for her country.

“More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh, according to the United Nations, of a population of just one million prior to 2016 when this crisis began.

“The UN has called the actions of the Myanmar government ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity.

“Extrajudicial killings, gang rape, mass graves, the detention of people as old as 75, as young as 10. Estimates of those killed range from 3,000 to more than 7,000, as more mass graves are uncovered.

“The UN secretary general calls it the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency … a humanitarian nightmare.

“Yet Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent. Silence from someone revered and respected for 30 years for her steadfast and courageous stand against oppression and in defence of human rights. Silence, only broken to call evidence and eyewitness accounts of violence against the Rohingya Muslim people ‘fabrications’.

“Some have continued to argue that she be given the benefit of the doubt in light of the continuing power of the military who kept her under house arrest for so long.

“After three long years of killing, the time for that, for our own silence, has now surely passed.

“We should strip her of this honour today and think very long and very carefully about ever making a similar award to another politician again.”

Aung San Suu Kyi

Green councillor Leo Littman said: “Let’s be honest. It is pretty clear that nothing we do here this afternoon will provide any significant practical benefit to the Rohinga people of Myanmar.

“There isn’t really a great deal we can do to affect their perilous lot.

“Colleagues have outlined the unimaginable atrocities these people have suffered.

“Since we can’t really do anything to help prevent or ameliorate this suffering, should we do nothing?

“No. There is something we can do, which demonstrates our condemnation of the Myanmar government’s appalling treatment of a section of their population on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

“Seven years ago this council voted unanimously to honour Aung San Suu Kyi as a recognition of her fight for democracy and human rights in her country.

“It saddens me enormously to now feel forced to support a move to remove that freedom but I believe it has to happen because it’s the one thing we can do to emphasise our utter disgust at the fact that she and her government have allowed and even encouraged ethnic cleansing and, when challenged, have consistently refused to even acknowledge that it is happening.

Councillor Warren Morgan

“Aung San Suu Kyi had the chance to extend her noted defence of civil rights to her Rohinga compatriots but has consistently chosen not to do so.

“As a result, we here in Brighton and Hove need to let the world know we do not support this relativistic view of fundamental rights.

“The only way we can do this is to remove her freedom of our City of Sanctuary.”

Conservative opposition leader Tony Janio said: “The United Nations has called on the Burmese authorities to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights, freedom of movement, equal access to basic services and equal access to full citizenship for all individuals.

“But a report issued recently from the House of Commons International Development Committee has raised grave concerns about the plight of returning refugees while decrying the huge human tragedy created by Burma.

Councillor Leo Littman

“Turning to Aung San Suu Kyi, her office has been condemned by fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners for her silence on the crisis and has also drawn widespread international criticism for her initial labelling reports of massacres, rapes, torture and the torching of villages by the military as ‘exaggerated’ and ‘fake’ news.

“But none of us really know what is going on inside the Burmese government and certainly not the pressure that Aung San Suu Kyi faces daily.

“Having both lived and worked in places with authoritarian military governments and as somebody who has had automatic weapons pointed in his face, been chased by civilian ‘vigilantes’ armed with Kalashnikovs and faced journeys through sparsely populated areas by armed guards, even I can’t start to imagine the pressure Aung San Suu Kyi faces as she squares up to the Burmese military on a daily basis.

Councillor Tony Janio

“If we agree that Aung San Sui Kyi ‘remains far better than the alternatives’ … our removal of the freedom of the city will help in a very small way towards undermining her in Burma.

“If we do this, we would be doing it to soothe our emotion of ‘needing something to be done’.

“If we, however, continue to support Aung San Sui Kyi, we strengthen her hand in negotiations with the Burmese military.

“I will not personally be voting to remove the freedom of the city and the Conservative group have a conscience-guided free vote.”

Twenty-nine councillors voted to revoke the honour, with 18 against and two abstentions.

This fell short of the two-thirds majority required so Aung San Sui Kyi retains the honour of the freedom of Brighton and Hove.

  1. Mohammed Asaduzzaman Reply

    I am very surprised Tory opposed this motion.
    Absolutely unkind for the innocent, yes they want to keep all Popet on the top position do nothing but innocent are suffering, immortal decision doesn’t
    Promote our city of Brighton and Hove pride .

    Our peace freedom must be valued who are holding the position without do nothing, No she should not allowed in our city of Brighton Hove any longer .

  2. Joe williams Reply

    Tony Janio you need to have a long hard look at yourself and others on the one hand you are saying “genocide rape murder torture torching of villages by the military is wrong but we will not support the removal The freedom of the city title from a person that could and should be doing more to speak out to stop the violence you say the removal of the award will do nothing I disagree it will focus on her. 18 counsellors and to abstain means our disgrace to our great city as you are saying we will give awards and if you say silent when people are committing “genocide murder torture rape” we will not revoke it

  3. Matt Jackson Reply

    Do you think removing her from having the freedom of the city of Brighton is in any way going to bother her? Get real Brighton and Hove council. She is an international statesman and she wouldn’t know who or where Brighton is, so trying to remove her, and failing, is not going to effect her daily business of running what can be considered a brand new country. I am new to the area and located my business here and almost surprised everyday by the way the council focuses on non important issues as this instead of looking at the city it is responsible for. There are far more important items in Brighton that need sorting than removing her from having the freedom. What are you doing about all the homeless? They grow day by fay. There are signs that says don’t feed the seagulls there should be signs saying don’t feed the homeless. Living in this town and begging as an easy option for them. The ghettoisation of parts of Brighton and Hove with the influx of immigrants, Madera Drive. A superb price of history that is left to rot. How shameful. Why was the i360 built? The list is endless. Why was the last administration and the current one allowed to let this happen?

    • David Vincent Reply

      Very well said Matt I can’t agree more with what you said read up on save hove much interesting things there .have a good day

  4. Kerry HINDOCHA Reply

    Myself and my partner are currently in Myanmar. Those who wanted to to strip Aung San Sui Kyi her freedom of Brighton and Hove city need to educate themselves fully on the politic/Military structure in Myanmar (Not Burma) rather than relying on standard mass media.

    I think those who want to strip her of her freedom status should
    Use that energy to visit Myanmar to help the Rohinga people and get the true facts!

    Aung San Sui Kyi has asked for support from the United nations to solve the Rohinga crisis.

    • David Vincent Reply

      Well said kerry

    • Styxsteel Reply

      A Voice of reality in a desert of apathy-
      Let’s ask a question-
      What has Brighton and Hove Council ACTUALLY done to stop the genocide?
      Persecution of Sui Kyu isn’t going to change anything-
      But it makes the councillors look like they do something for their money.
      Leave her all me. And focus on Brighton and Hove’s issues.

  5. Chris Reply

    I would think that Aung San Sui Kyi has more to worry about than whether she has the freedom of Brighton and Hove, and one might think that Brighton councillors have better things to do as well rather than calling a special council meeting.

    Removing the Freedom of the City would not stop her being allowed to come here as a normal tourist in the unlikely event that she decides to take a trip to the UK.

    As Kerry above says, the actual situation in Myanmar is going to be very different to that stated in most media outlets. I lived in Malaya for several years, as well as other parts of the world, and can appreciate how skewed the news is if you’re not actually there, as well as the difference in culture, expectations and outlook.

  6. Phil Reply

    I would have done some homework before relocating here, Matt. Brighton went to the dogs when the Greens took over and it’s been going downhill with every change of council since. Now it’s being run by self-promoters sitting on overblown incomes with absolutely no insight as to what’s happening on the streets. It’s no wonder it’s known as shi**y-by-the-sea.

  7. Cliff Reply

    So there has been a special council meeting to discuss issues half a world away? I manage a sheltered housing scheme in Brighton and have been trying to get our recycling collected without any reply from Brighton council. We had 4 collections last year in total. All I keep hearing is that money is tight,yet there can be a special meeting about whether or not a person who has not lived here should have freedom of the city.How about special meetings to resolve what is clearly a problem with waste and recycling collections?

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