Myanmar leader accused of 'betrayal' of Sheffield's support

People gather in Barker's Pool for a protest against violence in Myanmar.
People gather in Barker's Pool for a protest against violence in Myanmar.
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Sheffield Council's leader has accused a Nobel Peace Prize winner of a 'betrayal' of the city's support.

Coun Julie Dore said she didn't have the power to revoke the freedom of the city that was granted to Myanmar's state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

But in light of the violence in the country formerly known as Burma, where a Muslim group known as the Rohingya are reportedly being massacred by the military, she said it was time for the council to consider whether or not to take away the highest award Sheffield can bestow.

The freedom of the city was granted in recognition of Suu Kyi's own fight against persecution, much of which while under house arrest at the hands of the Burmese military.

Coun Dore said that award had the support of the Burmese community in Sheffield at the time. But she added: "I know councillors will share in the betrayal of that support of someone that we would expect much more of - who herself was persecuted and stood up for human rights."

The council leader was responding to a petition from Nether Edge resident Shahid Ali. Coinciding with the meeting, several hundred people gathered in Barker's Pool for a vigil and protest against the violence and the lack of condemnation from Suu Kyi, who was finally installed as state counsellor - essentially the prime minister - in 2016, despite first winning a general election in 1990.

Speakers address the crowd.

Speakers address the crowd.

She was given the Nobel Peace Prize a year later.

Nasar Raoof from Page Hall, who helped organised the event with Abdullah Okud from Pitsmoor, said: "This was getting everyone together, having silence and prayers and also faith leaders putting their angle on it and trying to find solutions and ways forward, such as e-mailing MPs."

One of the 16 speakers was a Rohingya Muslim who had recently fled Myanmar. He spoke about his experiences and the rights taken away from him once his ethnicity was discovered.

The event was held under the 'Rise for Rohingya' banner, alongside a similar protest in London. Mr Raoof said another would be held in Sheffield later this month.