Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi told an LSE audience that fairness and freedom can only be restored to her country under the rule of law.
Speaking on her first visit to the UK for 24 years, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said that unity in Burma and a new constitution could only be achieved within a legal framework. “This is what we all need - unless we see that justice is to be done, we cannot proceed to genuine democracy”, she told an audience of students, staff and visitors.
She said that she condemned violence wherever it occurred, but that a full understanding of its causes was key: “Resolving conflict is not about condemnation, it’s about finding the roots, the causes of that conflict and how they can be resolved in the best way possible.”
The leader of the National League of Democracy in Burma, who has spent much of her life under house arrest on the orders of the country’s military rulers, was speaking as part of a round-table discussion at LSE featuring academic and legal experts.
LSE Director Judith Rees reminded listeners that the event was taking place on Aung San Suu Kyi’s 67th birthday and that everyone wanted to celebrate that she was able to enjoy the day in freedom.
Professor Rees said: “Your trip to the UK will go down in history and I’m sure that it’s an emotional trip for you.”
She also invited the crowd to sing Happy Birthday, adding: “It’s a tribute not just to you but to all those who have campaigned for freedom in Burma.”
Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary of LSE’s Students’ Union, presented the guest with a surprise present - a photograph of her late father taken in London in 1947 - and with an LSE baseball cap, a traditional gift for visiting leaders.
The panel discussion also involved LSE professors Mary Kaldor and Christine Chinkin, Burmese activist and visiting fellow Dr Maung Zarni, Oxford professor Nicola Lacey and barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.
Professor Kaldor ended the event by passing on a question from a student who’d asked Aung San Suu Kyi how she had found her strength to continue her campaigning. She answered: “It’s all of you, and people like you, who give me the strength to continue. And I suppose I have a stubborn streak in me.”
Listen to the event
19 June 2012