Suu Kyi heads to Europe to accept Nobel, honors
By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
June 13, 2012 — Updated 0728 GMT (1528 HKT)
- Suu Kyi will address International Labor Organization in Geneva Thursday
- She will deliver her Nobel lecture Saturday, 21 years after winning Nobel Peace Prize
- Amnesty International to co-host concert with Dublin mayor, honor her with highest award
- She will also address British lawmakers at Westminster, be hosted by French president
(CNN) — Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday left Myanmar on a whirlwind 16-day European trip that will include her acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize that she won in 1991.
The pro-democracy campaigner, who was recently elected to Myanmar’s parliament, will also address both houses of the British Parliament, be the guest of honor at a music concert in Dublin and celebrate her birthday with family.
It all kicks off Thursday when she will address the International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The organization has had a more than six-decade history with Myanmar and hopes to eliminate forced labor by the end of 2015 and facilitate workers’ organizations, as Myanmar — also known as Burma — continues with reforms.
It is only Suu Kyi’s second trip abroad since she returned to Myanmar in 1988 to care for her dying mother. A military coup that September put Gen. Saw Maung in power, sparking anti-government demonstrations and a crackdown that left hundreds dead. Suu Kyi — whose husband, Michael Aris, remained in England — became a leading activist and co-founder of opposition group, National League for Democracy, before she was placed under house arrest for the first time the following July on charges of trying to divide the military. She spent much of the next two decades confined to her home by the ruling junta.
When her party won the 1990 general election with a massive landslide vote, the military rulers — in power since 1962 — refused to let the NLD serve, nullifying the results. Suu Kyi remained under house arrest.
June 19, 1945
Her parents: Gen. Aung San, who fought for Burma’s independence from Britain and became Burma’s first prime minister before being assassinated in 1947; Khin Kyi, a diplomat and ambassador to India
Husband: Michael Aris, a British Tibetan scholar, who died in 1999
Children: Kim and Alexander
Education: St. Hughes College, Oxford University
When Suu Kyi won the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize in 1991 and then the Nobel Peace Prize, citing her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights,” she remained in detention. In accepting the prize on his mother’s behalf, Alexander Aris said, “I personally believe that by her own dedication and personal sacrifice she has come to be a worthy symbol through whom the plight of all the people of Burma may be recognized.”
On Saturday, some 21 years later, Suu Kyi will finally deliver her Nobel lecture at the Oslo City Hall in Norway.
Cities that will host her are already getting ready. In Dublin, Ireland, a giant banner now hangs from Liberty Hall ahead of her arrival on Monday. Mayor Andrew Montague will co-host a concert in her honor with Amnesty International, which has campaigned for her and other political prisoners in Myanmar during the last two decades. She will also receive the group’s highest award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, whose past recipients include Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and Mary Robinson.
The concert, called “Electric Burma,” will feature a range of entertainers and personalities, including Bono, Vanessa Redgrave, Bob Geldof, Angelique Kidjo, Riverdance and former Tiananmen Square student activist Wu’er Kaixi. Bono, who has long dedicated the song “Walk On” to Suu Kyi at U2 concerts to highlight Myanmar and Suu Kyi’s detention, will present the award to her. Tickets for the event sold out in 20 minutes.
From Ireland, she will then travel to Britain — where she spent time as a student — to celebrate her 67th birthday on Tuesday, before she addresses lawmakers at Westminster Hall in London on June 21, an honor usually reserved for heads of state.
Suu Kyi’s trip will end in Paris, where she will be a guest of new French President Francois Hollande from June 26-29 in honor of her “fight for democracy and the rights of man and to reaffirm France’s will to support the political transition in Myanmar,” according to the Elysee Palace.
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