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Saturday, June 16, 2012
Burma democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Norway yesterday to finally deliver her Nobel lecture — more than two decades after winning the peace prize for her dogged campaign to free her people.
Suu Kyi’s visit to Oslo after years of house arrest follows sweeping political change in her homeland, where a former military junta has promised to follow a path to democracy.
But Suu Kyi’s first Europe trip in a quarter-century has been clouded by ethnic strife at home, where clashes between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya have claimed dozens of lives and displaced thousands.
Speaking in Geneva on Thursday, the Oxford-educated veteran activist and daughter of the country’s independence hero stressed "the need for rule of law", saying that without it "such communal strife will only continue".
There was concern over the punishing schedule of Suu Kyi’s trip, which will also take her to Ireland on Monday, as well as Britain and France, after the frail activist, who turns 67 next week, cancelled some events in Switzerland, citing exhaustion.
She was later greeted in the Swiss parliament to a standing ovation, an event that concluded the Swiss leg of her journey.
After her arrival in Oslo, Suu Kyi was to meet prime minister Jens Stoltenberg before a dinner with him, King Harald and Queen Sonja, parliamentarians, and members of the Burmese community.
Today, she was to deliver the traditional Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall for the prize she won in 1991 but was unable to accept in person, fearing that the regime would bar her from returning to her country.
Instead, she listened to the news on radio, isolated in the crumbling mansion in Yangon that was her prison for 15 years since she committed her life to the country in 1988.
Her husband Michael Aris and their sons, Kim and Alexander, accepted the award on her behalf. When her husband died of cancer in 1999, she could not be by his side for the same reason.
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