Friday 24 November 2017

World freedom heroine Aung San Suu Kyi in Dublin

Sarah Stack and Lyndsey Telford

BURMA’S pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has touched down in Dublin for a six-hour flying visit to the Irish capital.

Slightly behind schedule, the former political prisoner arrived on a flight from Norway, where she had collected her Nobel Peace Prize 21 years after it was awarded.

Ms Suu Kyi, who turns 67 tomorrow, was met by Ireland's foreign minister, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Three children - Sophia Kelly, Saw Tun and Laila Bgum - also presented her with flowers before she left to visit Irish President Michael D Higgins at his residence, Aras an Uachtarain.

Rock star Bono and Sir Bob Geldof will later join other famous human rights campaigners in a special tribute concert to honour Ms Suu Kyi, who will be presented with Amnesty International's prestigious Ambassador of Conscience award by the U2 frontman.

They will then give a public address to thousands of supporters outside the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, where she will also receive the freedom of Dublin city - 12 years after she was awarded the accolade.

Ms Suu Kyi will later depart for a four-day visit to Britain, where she lived, studied and married before returning and launching her long campaign in Burma.

The Tanaiste praised Ms Suu Kyi and pledged Irish support to her future efforts in Burma.

He said her election to parliament alongside the military-backed government heralds a new era of peace, democracy and human rights.

"I am honoured on behalf of the Government to give a warm cead mile failte to Aung San Suu Kyi on the occasion of her historic visit to Ireland this afternoon," Mr Gilmore went on.

"Ms Suu Kyi is enormously admired in this country and her visit here is something which we have long hoped to see."

President Higgins, a veteran human rights campaigner, said he was pleased to hear first hand Ms Suu Kyi's account of the challenges she now faces.

"I expressed the warm welcome and admiration, which is felt for her in this country," he said.

"At our meeting, I recalled her case being brought to my attention in 1989 through material that had been forwarded by Daw Suu Kyi's late husband, Michael Aris.

"This formed the basis for my raising and pursuing her situation, and that of the people of Burma, in the Oireachtas in late 1989 and on through 1991 and succeeding years."

Mr Higgins said he continued to take a close personal interest in the former prisoner's struggle since then and joined an international community that has welcomed her freedom to participate and respond to the political life of her people.

"I wished Daw Suu Kyi every success with her Irish visit and her ongoing important work on behalf of the Burmese people, which enjoys the full support of the Irish people," he added.

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