Suu Kyi Departs on Landmark Trip to Europe

Posted June 13th, 2012 at 2:00 am (UTC-5)
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Long-time Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has departed on a landmark European tour that will include her formal acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her more than 20 years ago.

The newly elected member of parliament, who spent much of the past two decades under house arrest, set out from Rangoon Wednesday for her first trip to Europe in 24 years.

In Geneva Thursday she will address the annual International Labor Organization conference. She next goes to Norway to deliver a long-awaited acceptance speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, which she was unable to accept in person because of her detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi will then make a brief stop in Ireland to receive an Amnesty International human rights award from rock star Bono, and will continue to Britain where she has been invited to address both houses of parliament.

The 67-year-old democracy activist, who lived in Britain for years with her — now deceased — husband, also plans to have a lot of unscheduled personal time while on her European tour.

This will be her second trip abroad and follows a recent five-day visit to Thailand. It comes as Burma's new nominally civilian government has begun making democratic reforms after decades of military rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to return to Burma in time for the July 4 reconvening of parliament, which is set to consider crucial legislation, including laws on media regulation and foreign investment.