Aung San Suu Kyi Returns to Oxford After 24 Years

Posted June 19th, 2012 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has visited her alma mater, Oxford University, for the first time since she left to return to Burma and care for her sick mother 24 years ago.

The opposition leader attended Oxford in the 1960s and raised her family in the British university town until 1988. She did not return to Britain because she feared that if she left Burma, the country's rulers might not allow her to return.

She eventually became the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement and spent much of the next two decades in detention under the country's former military rulers.

The Nobel laureate, who is celebrated her 67th birthday Tuesday, participated in a debate at the London School of Economics and Political Science earlier in the day. She credited her supporters with giving her the strength to continue in her struggles, along with what she called a “stubborn streak.”

Later in the week, Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to address both houses of parliament in London — an honor usually given only to high-profile foreign dignitaries.

The newly elected lawmaker arrived Tuesday in Britain from Ireland, where she received a rock star welcome from U2 singer Bono at a concert in her honor.

She also received Amnesty International's highest human rights honor — the Ambassador of Conscience Award. The group awarded her the prize in 2009, but she could not collect it at the time because of her detention.

On Saturday, Aung San Suu Kyi was welcomed in Oslo, where she formally accepted the Nobel Peace Prize that denied her in 1991 by her jailers.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in late 2010, as a period of political change began in Burma following half a century of military rule. A new, nominally civilian government was elected in November 2010 and took office four months later.

After her release, Aung San Suu Kyi resumed active leadership of the National League for Democracy, which she co-founded. She won election to an open seat in parliament in April.