Aung San Suu Kyi set for historic European tour
MYANMAR: Aung San Suu Kyi takes the latest stride in her
journey from an imprisoned activist to a politician on the world stage
when she visits Europe this week to give a Nobel speech two decades in
The Myanmar democracy icon, who was under house arrest when she was
awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, will leave Wednesday for
Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and France on only her second
overseas foray in 24 years.
For more than two decades Suu Kyi did not dare leave Myanmar -- even
to see her sons or British husband before his death from cancer in 1999
-- fearing the generals who ruled the country would not let her return.
As well as the Nobel speech, she will speak at an International
Labour Organization conference, address Britain's parliament and receive
an Amnesty International human rights award in Dublin from rock star
Her visit will mark a new milestone in the political changes that
have swept through the country formerly known as Burma since decades of
outright military rule ended last year, bringing to power a new
President Thein Sein is credited for a series of dramatic changes
including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing peace pacts
with armed rebel groups and welcoming Suu Kyi's party back into
mainstream politics. The former general now faces a major challenge at
home from a wave of sectarian violence in western Rakhine state, where a
state of emergency has been imposed in response to violent clashes
between Buddhists and Muslims.
Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero General Aung
San, for her part has called for "sympathy" with minorities in the wake
of the unrest.
In April the veteran activist won her first ever seat in parliament,
prompting Western nations to start rolling back sanctions.