Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has returned to the United Kingdom for the first time in 24 years for a four-day tour that will see her address the House of Parliament and have her meet with members of the royal family.
On Wednesday, she will receive an honorary degree from her alma mater, Oxford University, where she will also deliver an address. She has already participated in a debate at the famed London School of Economics.
Suu Kyi, who was elected to Myanmar’s parliament in a historic election in April, is on a whirlwind tour through Europe -- she has already picked up her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway (23 years after she was awarded it). Officials in her native country (also known as Burma) are promoting her journey as part of its gradual progress toward democracy.
However, during her appearance at the LSE, Suu Kyi appeared to soften her previous cynical stance against the Burmese government by insisting that democratic reforms would continue.
“The reason why I've emphasized the rule of law so much in my political work is because this is what we all need if we are to really process towards democracy, she said.
Unless people see that justice is done and seen to be done, we cannot believe in genuine reform.”
She also said she thinks she can work with Burmese military leaders on amending the nation’s constitution.
Do we think it can be amended? Yes, we think so, because we think that it's possible to work together with the military to make them understand why we think that this constitution will not move [the country] in a positive direction, she added.
Suu Kyi is quite familiar with England. She studied at Oxford and was living in Britain with her English husband, Michael Aris, and their two children when she was summoned back to Burma in 1988 to see her ailing mother. She decided to stay in Burma out of fear that the military regime would never let her return.
Over the next two-plus decades, Suu Kyi remained largely under house arrest and tragically never saw her husband, who died in 1999, ever again.