THE BURMESE PRO-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will receive an Amnesty International award from U2 frontman Bono on her visit to Ireland next month.
The ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ award from Amnesty International will be presented to Suu Kyi at an ‘Electric Burma’ concert being held for the Nobel Peace Prize winner at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin on the evening of 18 June.
Suu Kyi will visit Ireland for a day, an event which will not be a state visit as she is not a head of state but is likely to include meetings with political leaders here.
The concert will see artists from the worlds of drama, music, cinema and dance perform and give readings with Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Vanessa Redgrave, Bob Geldof, Riverdance, Jack Gleeson and others involved.
The concert is the brainchild of of Bill Shipsey, the founder of Art for Amnesty, who explained the reasons behind the decision to hold the concert.
He said: “Samuel Beckett was once asked why we produced so many musicians and writers and dancers. He said that ‘when you live on the last ditch (of Europe) all you can do is sing.’
“‘Electric Burma’ will give a charge to the people of Burma. But the electricity for this concert will be provided by the star who will be seated in the stalls for most of the show.
“Everybody else who performs, no matter how celebrated or gifted, is a support act. Walk on Aung San Suu Kyi to the Dublin stage. A free woman of Dublin since 2001 and now a free woman of the world.”
Suu Kyi is travelling to Ireland directly from Oslo where she will deliver the acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize she was awarded in 1991 while under house arrest by the Burmese military junta.
She was released in 2010 and was elected to a reformed Burmese parliament recently for her party, the National League for Democracy which gained over 40 seats in a by-election.
Having recently been granted a passport to allow her to travel abroad she left her country for the first time in 24 years yesterday and will be doing so again next month.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit is a truly momentous occasion for everyone in Ireland, and throughout the world, who campaigned tirelessly for her release for more than twenty years,” Amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman said.
Suu Kyi is expected to attend the concert and make a brief address to the assembled crowd at a public celebration outside the theatre on the Grand Canal Dock.
Suu Kyi’s receipt of the Ambassador of Conscience award come three years after it was originally announced by U2 during a concert at Croke Park.
Bono said today that it will be a “thrill” to meet her: “It’s so rare to see grace trump military might and when it happens we should make the most joyful noise we can. Aung San Suu Kyi’s grace and courage has tilted a wobbly world further in the direction of democracy.
“We all feel we know her, but it will be such a thrill to meet her in person. How honoured we are that she should consider Ireland for her first real trip from home.”