AUNG SAN SUU Kyi, the Burmese democratic leader, has begun her European visit.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner is to arrive in Ireland on 18 June – and a giant banner has already been erected by Amnesty International and Dublin City Council to welcome her here.
The General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma, who spent almost almost two decades under house arrest, has arrived in Geneva, BBC News reports, where she will make a speech at the UN’s International Labour Organisation.
The last time she visited Europe was in 1988, at a time when her home country of Burma was under oppressive military rule. Today, the country is making tenuous democratic progress. She will return there by the end of June, in time to attend the July 4 reconvening of parliament.
On her departure for Europe, she commented:
Each country will be different. I will know how backward (Burma) is when I reach the other countries.
When Suu Kyi arrives in Dublin for a brief visit, she will receive an Amnesty award from U2 frontman Bono. She will then go on to England where she will address both houses of parliament and accept an honorary doctorate at Oxford.
The daughter of Burma’s independence hero General Aung San, Suu Kyi got swept into the forefront of an uprising against the military regime. The junta viewed her popularity as such a threat that they locked her under house arrest for 15 of the next 22 years.
In November 2010, Suu Kyi was released from house arrest and in April she won a seat in Parliament, paving the way for Western nations to ease economic sanctions that had been imposed on the former military government.
The Electric Burma concert, which will take place in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre next Monday, is already sold out.
Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, commented:
She is a worthy recipient of the Freedom of the City of Dublin and I am delighted that she can sign the Roll of Honorary Freedom in person with us next Monday. This banner will announce her visit to Dubliners and the world.
- Additional reporting AP