Photographer: Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
This continues my recent posts on the inspirational icon of Burmese democracy and Nobel Peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi as she began her European tour including her first visit to the UK for 24 years.
For Previous post Click here and here.
Aung San visited the British Broadcasting Corp. on June 19, thanking its World Service radio channel for “keeping her in touch” during her years of house arrest.
Yesterday, Suu Kyi received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in advanced civil law. She had lived in England in the 1980s with her husband, Tibetan scholar Michael Aris, and two sons, returning to Myanmar in 1988 when her mother fell ill. She became involved in uprisings against the authorities and was placed under house arrest the following year.
In 1990, the military rejected an election victory by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in which it won about 80 percent of seats for a committee to draft a new constitution. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner known in Myanmar simply as “The Lady,” was detained during both that vote and elections in 2010.
Aung San said the struggle for democracy and human rights is beginning to show results as she has demanded the release of remaining prisoners of conscience in the South Asian nation.
“Over the past year, there have been signs that the endeavours of those who believe in democracy and human rights are beginning to bear fruit in Burma,” Suu Kyi said at the Nobel Peace Prize lecture in Oslo. "There have been changes in a positive direction; steps towards democratization have been taken.”
The 67-year-old said she was optimistic about the continued struggle, while warning against “blind faith” and calling for the “earliest, unconditional release” of prisoners of conscience.
Since taking office in March 2011, Myanmar President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners, sought peace deals with ethnic armies, dismantled a fixed exchange rate that distorted government revenue and halted the construction of a $3.6 billion Chinese- backed hydropower project in response to criticism China was exploiting Burmese resources. He also met with Suu Kyi and convinced her party to rejoin the political process after boycotting the 2010 elections.
Today at the climax of her visit, she made history when she became the only woman, other than the Queen, to address both houses of Britain's parliament.
The Burmese pro-democracy leader followed in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Pope Benedict XVI and US President Barack Obama to be invited to make a rare address at Westminster Hall.
She appealed to Britain ‘as friend and an equal’ to support the people of Burma in their drive for democracy.
- BBC report with short video here
- Telegraph report here
- Report of her emotional visit to Oxford earlier this week here
Speaking on the last leg of an emotional 17-day tour of Europe after 15 years of house arrest in Myanmar, Suu Kyi batted away possible misgivings over the invitation to Britain of a man once part of the military junta that ruled Myanmar for 49 years.
"I think it's right to invite him. Because we don't want to be shackled by the past,"she said.
So what's next ?
Hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars in Myanmar, simply for calling for freedom and democracy.
It has been wonderful to watch Aung San Suu Kyi travel freely around the world this week. But she has urged in her Nobel acceptance speech on Saturday for us all to continue to show solidarity and keep up the pressure on the Myanmar government.
Aung San recieves her Doctorate from Oxford.
Image Source BBC.
“… I was once a prisoner of conscience. As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often-repeated truth that ‘one prisoner of conscience is one too many."
In Dublin, Ireland, Amnesty International celebrated the remarkable life’s work of Aung San Suu Kyi by awarding her the prestigious “Ambassador of Conscience Award.”
Human rights matter...........................................
Click here for the Amnesty International Site to take action and give support now, so that Myanmar’s government will hear our message loud and clear — where there is freedom for one, there must be freedom for all!
It will only take a few moments ....
It will only take a few moments ....