Posts Tagged ‘Nobel Peace Prize’
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for the last leg of her historic European tour on Tuesday in Paris, where she will be treated with the honours of a visiting head of state.
The 67-year-old Nobel Peace laureate arrives in France after warm welcomes in Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Britain and will meet with French President Francois Hollande and other senior officials.
“France will pay tribute to this woman’s exceptional struggle for human rights and will mark its active support for the democratic transition under way” in Myanmar, foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
Suu Kyi will arrive in Paris by train from London on Tuesday afternoon, before heading to the Elysee Palace for dinner and a press conference with Hollande.
During her three-day visit Suu Kyi will also meet Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, the heads of both chambers of parliament, members of the local Myanmar community and her supporters in human-rights groups.
Pierre Martial, the head of the France Aung San Suu Kyi association that supported her in the country, said she would use the visit to urge French authorities and businesses to back the country’s democratic transition.
“She is calling on some countries to give concrete help, to invest… in a reasonable and fair way, to help the country revive after years of economic and political horror,” he said.
He said the visit would also serve for Suu Kyi “to thank all those who helped her during these long years of repression”.
Martial urged French authorities to “commit very concretely” during her visit to providing both financial and moral support to independent pro-democracy groups operating in the country.
A French diplomatic source said that her visit was “a message of confidence in the future of a country that has chosen to break with detestable practices” and that France would support Myanmar in this move.
Suu Kyi was freed from nearly two decades of house arrest in November 2010 and became a lawmaker earlier this year as part of a gradual transition towards democracy in Myanmar.
She launched her European tour on June 13 in Switzerland and will arrive in France from Britain, where she studied and lived for several years until she returned to fight for democracy in Myanmar, leaving her children and her English husband behind.
On June 16 she finally delivered her Nobel Peace Prize speech, 21 years after winning the award while under house arrest, in Oslo, pledging to keep up her struggle for democracy.
Despite some optimism surrounding reforms in the country, France-based groups including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League (LDH) urged the international community to maintain pressure on Myanmar’s leadership for reform.
In a statement on Monday, the groups called for “great caution regarding the easing of economic sanctions and an increase in investment” in Myanmar, noting “the lack of an independent judicial system” and “continued repression of public demonstrations”.
Suu Kyi’s visit to Europe has been clouded by continued violence in western Myanmar where dozens of people have been killed and an estimated 90,000 people have fled clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya.
Jun 21st 2012, by A.A. | OXFORD
THIS week two Nobel-peace-prize laureates, both international figures of inspiration, find themselves visiting Britain: the leader of Myanmar’s (ie Burma’s) opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi; and also the Tibetans’ exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. On June 19th, in London, the two met
The rendezvous, not publicised on either of their official schedules, was disclosed by the Dalai Lama’s office on Twitter only the next day, where it was described simply as “a private meeting”. The Dalai Lama, who had previously called for Miss Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, is reported to have told her “I have real admiration for your courage.” He also gave her his blessing, as one Buddhist to another. The obvious backdrop to any such blessing would be the separate political struggles of Myanmar and Tibet. The two places have a certain neighbour in common.
China’s leaders will not be happy to learn of the meeting. The Dalai Lama’s ten-day visit to Britain has given fresh occasion for China to denounce him. In a further measure, the Chinese Olympic committee threatened to withdraw some of its athletes from training in England. The Dalai Lama shrugged off all this as “routine”. He is as accustomed to acting as a hate figure for the Chinese government as he is to being a symbol of hope to many people elsewhere.
Myanmar has also vexed China, its most involved economic partner, of late. Last year its president, Thein Sein, suspended a hydropower dam being built with Chinese backing in northern Myanmar. Reforms that have been initiated by his once perfectly authoritarian government—such as those that enabled Miss Suu Kyi to win a parliamentary seat in April—have been seen in part as an attempt to build better relations with other countries, that Myanmar should not remain so reliant on China’s good graces.
One danger for Miss Suu Kyi is that she could develop hate-figure status with the Chinese government. It would surely hurt her movement if she were to join the Dalai Lama in China’s official view as a “jackal in monk’s clothing” (or a jackal in a htamain, as it were). As her role evolves from dissident to politician, she will have to deal with politicians in Beijing. A meeting with the Dalai Lama does nothing to nurture their trust in her, and could frustrate the sort of progress that her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), pursues in Myanmar.
That the two met in London may also strain Britain’s already tense relations with China. When David Cameron met the Dalai Lama last month, the Chinese government rebuked Britain and called off a senior official’s visit.
On the evening of June 19th, Miss Suu Kyi celebrated her 67th birthday at a private garden party in Oxford, her old university and former home. Her return to Britain—by way of Oslo, where she collected the Nobel peace prize that was awarded her in 1991, when she was under house arrest—is part of her second trip outside Myanmar in the past 24 years. (She visited Thailand last week.) In 1988, when she had returned to Yangon (then Rangoon) from Britain to care for her ailing mother, she was caught up in pro-democracy demonstrations. At the time and ever since she chose at great personal sacrifice not to leave Myanmar, for fear that she would not be allowed back.
Her audience with the Dalai Lama is the product of unusual circumstance. She was long not at liberty to leave her home in Yangon; he was forced to flee his in Lhasa. She is working to steer her country in a new direction, while he can do little to influence Tibet’s fate. Both must hope that China’s displeasure at their meeting will not impede the work that Miss Suu Kyi has ahead of her back home.