Suu Kyi to get Freedom of Dublin

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will jet in to Dublin tomorrow for a six-hour flying visit to the Irish capital.

Thousands of supporters are expected to turn out to honour the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who will deliver an open-air address and receive the freedom of Dublin city – 12 years after she was awarded the accolade.

Rock star Bono and fellow aid campaigner Bob Geldof will join her in a special tribute concert, where Ms Suu Kyi will be presented with Amnesty International’s prestigious Ambassador of Conscience award.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director in Amnesty International Ireland, said thousands of people from across Ireland and around the world will have an opportunity to hear a woman who has inspired millions.

“Every one of us who applauds her onto the stage on Monday night, proudly looking on as the Lord Mayor of Dublin grants her the Freedom of the City, is also sending a message of hope and solidarity to her supporters in Myanmar,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“We will be telling them that we stood with Aung San Suu Kyi when she was in prison, that she inspires us much as she inspires them.

“Now that she is free, we will continue to stand with her and to support the struggle for justice, freedom and human rights in Myanmar.”

Ms Suu Kyi was under house arrest or in prison for 15 of the last 24 years until her release last November.

The human rights campaigner, who last night accepted a Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago, is visiting Europe for the first time since 1988.

She will fly in from the Norwegian capital of Oslo and will be met by Foreign Affairs Minister and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at Dublin airport.

Ms Suu Kyi will meet Irish President Michael D Higgins before she attends a special concert at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in her honour – where she will also be conferred with an honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin.

Bono, Geldof, musician Damien Rice, the Riverdance ensemble and actress Vanessa Redgrave will be among the leading figures from the world of arts and music celebrating the event.

When the Freedom of the City was conferred on Ms Suu Kyi on March 18 2000, the award was accepted on her behalf by her son Kim.

The then Lord Mayor, Mary Freehill, will tomorrow present a scroll commemorating the visit to the campaigner, who will sign the Roll of Honorary Freedom of the City.

“I am delighted that Aung San Suu Kyi is finally free to come to Dublin in person to complete the ceremony which began in March 2000,” added Cllr Freehill.

Members of the Karen community, Myanmar’s largest ethnic minority, will perform a short piece of traditional Karen music after the public address and a special birthday cake will be given to Ms Suu Kyi, who celebrates her 67th birthday on Tuesday.

Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague said it was a great honour that Ms Suu Kyi is visiting Dublin.

“She is one of my heroes for leading a peaceful campaign to bring democracy to Burma at great personal cost,” he said.

“For over 15 years Aung San Suu Kyi has been separated from her family and held under house arrest as a result of her campaign.

“I am proud to welcome her to Dublin and proud to invite her to sign the Roll of Honorary Freedom of the City.”

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