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‘Yes, it’s a PR stunt’: Geldof returns Freedom of Dublin

Sir Bob Geldof said 'it turned out she (Aung San Suu Kyi) is a killer'.

Bob Geldof has given back his Freedom of the City of Dublin because Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi shares the same award.

Geldof said it was a “small personal gesture” in protest at the suffering of the Rohingya people.

Ms Suu Kyi has been criticised for her lack of response to the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim community, which has caused more than 600,000 people to flee to Bangladesh since August.

Explaining his position, Geldof told reporters: “I’m here to talk about genocide and mass murder and rape and the abuse of children.”

Challenged on whether it was a publicity stunt, he said: “It is a PR stunt to try to dissociate this city from a murderer.”

:: Babies dumped and left to die in Rohingya crisis

Bob Geldof arrives to return his 'Freedom of the City of Dublin' award
Image: Bob Geldof arrives to return his Freedom of the City of Dublin award

On his way to City Hall, he said he had not wanted to give up his award and that he was “really proud of it”.

But he added that it was “the most I could do… and the least”.

Describing his fury at Ms Suu Kyi, he told Sky News she was a “brute killer” and an “international pariah”.

He said: “I just don’t want to be on a very small select roll of people of which she is a member and I would hope that the city council take her name off the freedom scroll. I don’t understand why they don’t get a felt tip marker and just wipe her off.”

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Geldof said he felt “duped” by the leader, who he branded a “wretched woman”, after he performed when she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

“Personally speaking, I feel a complete chump, like I’ve been duped,” he said.

“It is her job her responsibility to speak out and speak for all her people and if she feels unable to do that she should resign. I think she should be brought to the Hague.”

:: Explained: The Rohingya refugee crisis

A file picture of Aung San Suu Kyi taken in August

In a statement earlier, Geldof said he association with Dublin “shames us all”.

He said: “I would be a hypocrite now were I to share honours with one who has become at best an accomplice to murder, complicit in ethnic cleansing and a handmaiden to genocide.”

:: Why is the Rohingya crisis not classed as genocide?

Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights” but she has been criticised for not doing enough to stop the persecution of the Rohingya.

The minority Muslim group is seen by the majority Buddhists as being foreigners, rather than belonging to Myanmar.

A severely malnourished elderly woman struggles to stand

On Saturday, U2 said Ms Suu Kyi’s failure to stop the violence was “starting to look a lot like assent”.

Dublin’s Lord Mayor (Ardmheara) Micheal Mac Donncha said: “Bob Geldof is entitled to return his award if he wishes to do so.

“When I raised the issue of removing the Freedom of the City from the Myanmar leader, consensus was not reached among the groups on the city council, though all have condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people, and the matter is not closed.

“Regarding Mr Geldof himself, I find it ironic that he makes this gesture while proudly retaining his title as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe.

“Mr Geldof last year grossly insulted the men and women of the 1916 Rising in the centenary year when he compared them to so-called Islamic State (IS), causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally.”

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    California ‘torture parents’ plead not guilty

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: David and Louise Turpin face 94 years in prison if convicted of the alleged torture and abuse

    The parents of 13 children have appeared in court accused of abusing and starving them and chaining them to their beds in their squalid California home.

    David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 49, their hands and legs shackled, appeared calm as they pleaded not guilty on Thursday to multiple charges of abuse, torture and imprisonment.

    The pair were arrested on Sunday after their 17-year-old daughter jumped out of a window at their home in Perris, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, and used a mobile phone to call police.

    She had been planning the escape with one of her sisters for two years, but the sibling, who also managed to flee the house with her, became frightened and returned to the property.

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: Louise Turpin and her husband David reject the allegations

    Prosecutors say the alleged abuse by the Turpins started many years ago when the family lived in Texas, and intensified over time as they relocated to Murrieta, California, in 2010, before moving to their current family home in 2014.

    In a news conference, Riverside County district attorney Mike Hestrin revealed more information about the charges, along with harrowing details of the alleged abuse, describing it as a case of “human depravity”.

    :: A happy family? Photos of chained siblings

    The children, aged between two and 29, were held captive at home and denied basic freedoms.

    The only thing they were allowed to do was to write in their journals – hundreds of which are being reviewed for evidence.

    They were only allowed to shower once a year, it is claimed, and if they ever washed their hands above their wrists they would be accused of playing with the water and punished.

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: David Turpin is also charged with committing a lewd act on a child under 14

    The district attorney described the alleged torture as “severe, emotional, physical abuse”, and revealed that at least one of the children had once been hogtied.

    “The victims said as a punishment they would be tied up with ropes but when they were able to escape, their parents began using chains and padlocks,” he said.

    Other punishments included “frequent beatings” and “strangulation”.

    Mr Hestrin said the children would be chained up for weeks, or even months at a time, and would not be freed to go to the toilet.

    The prosecution claims when they were not chained up, they were kept in separate rooms and fed very little and on a schedule.

    It is alleged the mother and father would buy food for themselves but not give any of it to their sons and daughters.

    Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announces charges against David Turpin and Louise Turpin...
    Image: Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the charges

    “They would buy food, including pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies, leave it on the counter. let the children look at it but not eat the food,” said Mr Hestrin.

    :: Captive siblings: Police reveal how girl escaped

    Its is alleged that when the family lived in Texas the parents at one point lived apart from most of their children and would drop off food from time to time.

    Mr Hestrin said the children had been starved so much they were malnourished, their growth was stunted and their muscles deteriorating.

    The eldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just over five-and-a-half stone (82lbs), and a 12-year-old appeared to be the size of an average seven-year-old.

    Mr Hestrin said there had been no torture charge filed in relation to the two-year-old because the toddler appeared to be “getting enough food”.

    None of the victims had seen a doctor in more than four years, and none of them had ever seen a dentist, according to the district attorney.

    The Turpin family
    Image: The Turpin family

    “They were not allowed to have toys, although there were many toys found in the house that were in their original package and had never been opened,” he said.

    The victims lacked a basic knowledge of life. Many of the children did not know what a police officer was, he continued.

    When the 17-year-old was asked if there was any medication or pills in the home, she did not know what they were.

    The parents turned their home into a private school called Sandcastle Day School, where the father was listed as the principal and its six pupils were the couple’s younger children.

    However, at least one of the older boys attended college classes, Mr Hestrin said, but his mother would accompany him, wait outside and take him home once his class had finished.

    Mr Hestrin said the entire family would sleep during the day, going to bed at around 4am or 5am, and be up all night.

    When officers raided the home they found one of the siblings, a 22-year-old, chained to a bed and evidence suggesting two others – aged 11 and 13, had been freed moments before their arrival.

    David Turpin and Louise Turpin appear in court for their arraignment in Riversid
    Image: The couple were arrested on Sunday

    The couple were charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependant adult.

    David Turpin was also charged with performing a lewd act on a child, a girl, under the age of 14.

    When asked to elaborate on the lewd act charge, Mr Hestrin said: “We are alleging that David Turpin touched one of the victims in a lewd way by using force or fear.”

    The parents – who were married in 1985 in Pearlsburg, Virginia, when he was 23 years old and she was 16 – could each face 94 years in jail if found guilty.

    “A case like that sticks with you and haunts you,” Mr Hestrin said.

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    • The normal house and family cars that hid a horrible secret

    • Captive siblings: Police reveal how girl escaped

    • A happy family? Photos add to mystery after siblings found chained to beds

    • Adults and children found chained to their beds in a US home

    “Sometimes in this business you are faced with human depravity, and that’s what we have here.”

    The Turpins are next due in court on 23 February.

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