21 Jun 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi: help bring reforms to Burma

News Correspondent

The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi asks Britain for help to bring ‘greater opportunities’ to her country as she makes a historic address to the Palace of Westminster.

The Nobel peace laureate delivered her speech to both houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall – the most historic part of the Palace of Westminster – a rare honour, normally only accorded to heads of state.

She said: “I am here in part to ask for practical help, help as a friend and an equal, in support of the reforms which can bring better lives, greater opportunities, to the people of Burma who have been for so long deprived of their rights and their place in the world,” she said.

“My country today stands at the start of a journey towards, I hope, a better future. So many hills remain to be climbed, chasms to be bridged, obstacles to be breached.

“Our own determination can get us so far. The support of the people of Britain and of peoples around the world can get us so much further.”

It followed a visit to Downing Street, where she met David Cameron.

The Burmese pro-democracy leader’s visit was “a great moment, that few expected and few dared to hope for”, the Prime Minister said as they stood side by side at a Number 10 press conference.

“Over these years you have been a symbol of courage and of hope for our people and for your people and around the world,” he said.
“Your example has inspired people across the world and it has inspired people here in Britain too.”

Asia correspondent John Sparks blogs on Aung San Suu Kyi: Facing the challenge of a divided nation

Earlier on Thursday, she had visited the Prince and Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge at Clarence House, their London home, where she planted a tree in honour of her visit.

During a four-day visit to Britain – her first since 1988 – Suu Kyi has also visited Oxford, the city where she studied from 1964 to 1967 and lived with her late husband, Michael Aris.

She received an honorary degree on Wednesday at Oxford University, her alma mater.

Suu Kyi was awarded the honorary doctorate in civil law in April 1993, the university said, but until now has been unable to receive it in person.

The pro-democracy leader spent much of the last 24 years under house arrest in Burma. She was freed in late 2010.