Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Honorary degree for Burma laureate!

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (13 July 1995)
Aung San Suu Kyi advocates non-violent resistance

Amid the excited graduates and proud parents gathering at the University of Ulster's Magee campus for Tuesday's graduation ceremony, there was one high-profile guest who was not there to accept her award.

Burmese pro-democracy campaigner and leader of the opposition Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained by the country's ruling military junta for 11 of the past 19 years.

Today the university presented her with an honorary doctorate for services to human rights.

In Derry to accept it was fellow campaigner, Mra Raza Linn, who hailed San as a hero who has dedicated her life to establishing democracy in Burma.

"I am very happy to received this award on behalf of the hero of the Burmese democracy movement.

"This is not only honouring Aung San Suu Kyi, but recognising the people who are suffering and sacrificing their lives to achieve democracy and human rights in Burma," she said.

"I do believe that the peoples of Ireland support our non-violence movement for democracy in their heart and soul, and recognize non-violent activists who are struggling for the peace, justice and human rights in Burma."

She explained that conditions in the country were "very bad".

Mra Raza Linn
Mra Raza Linn accepted the award on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi

"The people are very poor, and the only people who are rich are the ruling military junta.

"Burma is a country full of resources - in my region there is plenty of oil and gas - but the people never have access to it or see the benefits of it.

"There is no building going on, and there are no schools for our children.

"The people want to live peacefully, but they cannot. The military junta use force against us, and they try to rape the minority women."

Mrs Linn was forced to flee the country in 1988 after she delivered the first pro-democracy speech in her home state of Rakhaing in western Burma.

"I called on my people to unite to face down the military junta and to work for freedom.

"The military ordered that I be killed, and I could not live in my country any more.

"I left in 1988, for Bangladesh, and I have lived there in exile ever since, working towards children's education, women's empowerment, and human rights.

"I work day and night on counteracting the military regime with non-violent methods.

"We are going the right way towards democracy.

"One day they must step down.

"It could happen any time."




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