Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi will address both houses of parliament on Tuesday during her historic visit.
The Burmese opposition leader Aung Suu Kyi has started a 17-day tour of Europe this week, with a visit to the UK expected on Tuesday. The Lady, as she is called in Burma, landed in Switzerland yesterday with stops in Norway, Dublin and France planned.
In Oslo, she will give an acceptance speech for her Nobel Peace Prize, awarded 21 years ago when it was collected by her late husband and two sons.
In Dublin, she will get the honour of meeting with U2’s Bono who will present her with Amnesty International’s prestigious Ambassador of Conscience award.
In the UK, Suu Kyi will address both houses of parliament at Westminster Hall – an honour usually only reserved for heads of state.
The UK is particularly close to Suu Kyi’s heart as she studied and lived in Oxford until 1988 when she had to return to Burma (then, Myanmar) to nurse her dying mother. As the daughter of Burmese independence advocate, Gen Aung San, she felt it was her duty to get involved in the uprising against the military regime.
The junta saw her as such a threat that she was kept under house arrest for 15 years, fearing a visit to Oxford would result in her not being allowed back into Burma upon her return.
“I think there is one other element of progress that I hope we can move forward on today and that is this: for many years Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed – if she wanted to – to leave this country. You wrote that they would roll out the red carpet all the way to the aeroplane and put you onto it but never let you return.
“I hope that today – and I have invited Daw Suu today to come to London in June and to come to the United Kingdom in June, to also see your beloved Oxford.And that I think is a sign – if we are able to do this – of huge progress, that you will be able to leave your country to return to your country and to continue your work as a member of parliament.”
• Aung San Suu Kyi: “An icon in Damascus” 28 Jun 2011
To which she replied:
“Well yes, two years ago I would have said, ‘Thank you for the invitation but sorry’ but now I am able to say, ‘Well, perhaps’ – and that’s great progress.”
Suu Kyi’s visit on Tuesday will be an historic and humbling event for MPs and the UK as the world’s most heroic pro-democracy activist will returns to the country she loves so much.