Suu Kyi honoured in Dublin during 'unforgettable day'
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi tonight said her reception in Ireland had made for "one of the most unforgettable days of my life".
Several thousand well-wishers turned out tonight for the culmination of her seven-hour visit to Dublin when she formally signed the Roll of Honorary Freedom for the City of Dublin.
Hundreds of members of the exiled Burmese community were given pride of place in front of the stage at the Grand Canal Plaza beside the Bord Gais Energy Theatre where a concert had been held in her honour.
The crowd held up yellow banners wishing her a happy birthday, and traditional Burmese musicians played a number of songs for her. She is 68 tomorrow.
Having signed the roll, she made a speech short in duration but strong in sentiment. “I have been welcomed to Ireland as if I belonged to you,” she told the crowd. “You have stood by us in our times of troubles.”
She referred to the continuing difficulties in her homeland when she said: "These troubles are not yet all over, and I am confident that you will continue to stand with us."
To date, some 300 political prisoners remain in Burma despite a significant relaxation of restrictions that has allowed her to travel outside her country.
“Please believe that when I say that you are a part of my heart, I really mean it with my whole heart,” she told the crowd. Ms Suu Kyi was earlier led in procession from the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Andrew Montague, compared Ms Suu Kyi’s non-violent response to the Burmese military regime to Daniel O’Connell’s peaceful campaign that led to Catholic emancipation.
He said she could have taken the easy way out and gone into exile, but, instead, resolved never to abandon her people. “You have inspired us with your courage, moved us with your sacrifice, and you have touched us with your kindness,” he said.
He told her that so many Irish people had never given up on her and had campaigned for her release for years. Cllr Montague also thanked U2 in particular for using their platform to raise awareness of her detention.
He recalled how her son Kim accepted the freedom of Dublin on her behalf and expressed a desire that some day her mother would be able to accept the honour herself. The Mayor added: “That day is today.”
Earlier, there were emotional scenes too at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre where she was presented with the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award by U2's Bono in front of audience of artists and members of the Burmese community.