Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi was to end her triumphant tour of Europe in France on Thursday, after being lauded during her visits as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.
The Nobel Peace laureate — who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle — has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.
In France, she was treated with honours normally reserved for a head of state, dining at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday with President Francois Hollande, who pledged support for her country’s transition towards democracy.
Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi’s party back into mainstream politics. Suu Kyi, 67, has in the past two weeks visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and now France, receiving rock star welcomes along the way.
The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.