Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said Burma resembles other countries that have shed dictatorships, in a speech at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva on Thursday, while also calling for the rule of law, an end to ethnic conflicts and greater human rights.
Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is greeted by the president of the International Labour Organization Juan Somavia, right, on Thursday, June 14, 2012, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, during her first trip to Europe since 1988. Suu Kyi will visit Switzerland, Norway, Britain, France and Ireland on her more than two week tour, which will include a speech in Oslo to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize that thrust her into the global limelight two decades ago. Photo: AFP
In her first speech in Europe in almost 25 years, she joked to a European audience: “Am I overly ambitious? Well, perhaps. I am ambitious.” Her address was broadcast live in video over the Internet.
Cheers rippled through the international audience as she said she spoke not as a government representative, before ginning and adding: “Not yet, anyway.”
Suu Kyi will participate in her first regular Parliament session in Burma when she returns from her five-city European tour. She represent a poor Karen Township on the outskirts of Rangoon.
She said Burma, now under a quasi-elected government, is similar to South American countries that have shed dictatorships.
The ILO just reinstated Burma as a member based on its improved labour laws and its recent commitment to end forced labour by 2015, after 13 years of isolation.
Geneva is the first stop on her two-week tour. During her trip, she will collect her long deferred Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo that she was awarded in 1991, which she was unable to accept in person at the time because she was under house arrest.
While in Europe, she is also scheduled to address both houses of the British Parliament, be the guest of honor at a concert in Dublin, Ireland, and celebrate her 67th birthday with her two sons who live in Britain.
In Dublin, she will be the special guest at a concert, “Electric Burma,” organized by Art for Amnesty. Amnesty International, which has campaigned for Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma, will award Suu Kyi its highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. Past recipients include Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel.
Bono, who has long dedicated his song “Walk On” to Suu Kyi at U2 concerts, will present the award.
From Ireland, she travels to Britain to celebrate her birthday on Tuesday, before she addresses lawmakers at Westminster Hall in London on June 21, an honor usually reserved for heads of state.
Suu Kyi's will end her tour in Paris, where she will be a guest of French President Francois Hollande from June 26 to 29 in honor of her fight for democracy, according to government officials.
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