Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi leaves Ireland after awards

Monday 18 June 2012 23.10
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Aung San Suu Kyi was presented with flowers by Burmese-Ireland children
Aung San Suu Kyi was presented with flowers by Burmese-Ireland children
Bono accompanied the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner to Dublin
Bono accompanied the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner to Dublin
Ms Suu Kyi has met President Higgins and will attend a concert in her honour
Ms Suu Kyi has met President Higgins and will attend a concert in her honour

Burma's pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi has flown out of Dublin after receiving the prestigious Amnesty Ambassador of Conscience award.

It was presented to her by Bono at an event in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin.

Accepting her award, Ms Suu Kyi said she found the whole experience "totally unexpected".

"To receive this award is to remind me that 24 years ago, I took on duties from which I have never been relieved," she said.

Ms Suu Kyi also added that the British had always referred to the Burmese as the Irish of the East.

She said they never quite understood but it was possibly because they never gave the British any peace and were very rebellious.

Earlier, Ms San Suu Ski arrived in Dublin as part of her first trip to Europe in nearly 25 years. She was greeted by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland at Dublin Airport and was presented with flowers by Burmese-Irish children.

Mr Gilmore said her election to parliament in Burma alongside the military-backed government heralds a new era of peace, democracy and human rights. He said: "I am honoured on behalf of the Government to give a warm cead mile failte to Aung San Suu Kyi on the occasion of her historic visit to Ireland this afternoon.

"Ms Suu Kyi is enormously admired in this country and her visit here is something which we have long hoped to see."

Mr Gilmore also said that Ireland will accredit a non-resident ambassador to Burma. She later met President Michael D Higgins during a 20 minute visit to Áras an Uachtaráin.

The President said he was pleased to have had the opportunity to welcome Ms Suu Kyi and to hear directly her account of the challenges she faces.

Ms Suu Kyi travelled to Dublin from Norway, where she collected the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991.

The Nobel laureate attended a public event at Grand Canal Plaza. 

Ms Suu Kyi also accepted the Freedom of the City of Dublin, which she was awarded in 2000, before leaving for a flight to London.

Burma's opposition leader has led a peaceful campaign against the country's military leadership for more than two decades and spent 15 years under house arrest in the country, which is also known as Myanmar.

It was only last month - two years after her release - that she felt confident she would be allowed return to Burma if she travelled abroad.

This year, Ms Suu Kyi also led 42 other members of her National League for Democracy into the Burmese parliament.

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