Twenty-four Years Later, Aung San Suu Kyi Returns to Britain

Posted June 19th, 2012 at 1:30 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi continues her whirlwind European tour Tuesday in Britain, where she will reunite with family after leaving the country nearly a quarter century ago.

The Nobel laureate, who turns 67 on Tuesday, will participate in a panel discussion at the London School of Economics before attending a family reunion in Oxford.

Later in the week, Aung San Suu Kyi will address both houses of parliament in London – a rare honor usually given only to high-profile foreign dignitaries.

She lived and studied for years in Britain before returning to her homeland in 1988 to care for her ailing mother. 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 harsh former military rulers.

The newly elected lawmaker was arriving 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 award – 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 received a thunderous welcome in Oslo, where she formally accepted the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize 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, and won election to an open seat in parliament in April.