Nobel laureate Suu Kyi visits Northern Ireland

Burmese opposition leader meets political leaders at Stormont

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Parliament buildings at  Stormont today. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Parliament buildings at Stormont today. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 16:36

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was briefed on lessons from Northern Ireland’s peace process today during a visit to Belfast.

The Burmese opposition leader said she intended to learn as much as she could about the developing work.

She was hosted by members of the devolved power-sharing administration at Stormont, established after 30 years of conflict.

She was met at the airport by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

She called on Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister junior ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann.

The First and Deputy First Ministers are in the US on a trade mission. She was later due to meet schoolchildren and tour the Titanic Belfast visitor centre.

She also go to Wellington College in South Belfast to field questions from politics students from across the city.

Ms Suu Kyi has close connections with Britain having read philosophy, politics and economics at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, between 1964 and 1967, before settling in the university city with her late husband Michael Aris, a Tibetan scholar.

In July 1989, about a year after her return to her homeland to care for her mother, Ms Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest by the ruling military which feared the influence of a woman whose father was instrumental in gaining Burma’s freedom from British rule.

She remained there for much of the next 20 years, finally being released in November 2010.

Her husband died of prostate cancer in 1999 at the age of 53. He had asked the Burmese authorities to grant him a visa to visit her one last time, but was refused.

Lord Mountbatten, the prince’s great uncle, and the campaigner’s father, General Aung San, were involved in important events leading up to Burma’s independence from British rule.

As supreme allied commander of South East Asia Lord Mountbatten held negotiations in 1943 with Aung San, Burma’s war minister, who switched his country’s military allegiance from Japan to Britain and helped the Allies defeat the Japanese in his homeland.

The general went on to play a crucial role in Burma becoming an independent nation before he was assassinated in 1947, months before independence was realised.

Mountbatten was killed by the IRA in Co Sligo in 1979.

PA