Canada on Monday conferred honorary citizenship on jailed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her fight for restoration of democracy and human rights in the southeast Asian nation.
The 63-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi has been under arrest since 1990 when the military junta annulled victory of her party, the National League for Democracy, in the general elections.<b1>
Presenting a certificate of honorary citizenship to Aung San Suu Kyi's cousin, Sein Win, on the Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canadian foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier said this honour was in recognition of her long and courageous fight to promote freedom and democracy in Myanmar.
"The presentation of this honorary Canadian citizenship to Aung San Suu Kyi is testimony to Canada's long-standing respect and admiration for her tireless struggle, a struggle she has pursued in the face of overwhelming odds," the minister said.
Bernier said Canada stood for the universal values that were under siege in Myanmar today.
"The Burmese (Myanmarese) regime is abhorrent to Canadian values. On Dec 13, Canada imposed the toughest sanctions of any country in the world against Burma.
"We have chosen sanctions that will have an impact on the Burmese regime and clearly indicate Canada's condemnation of that regime's complete disregard for human rights and repression of the democratic movement."
The minister pointed out that despite calls by the international community, the military rulers continued to keep Aung San Suu Kyi under arrest.
"We once again call upon the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners, and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people of Burma.
"We stand alongside those who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, share our commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."
With this honour, the Myanmar leader joins Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama who have been given honorary citizenship by Canada.
The US Congress also conferred the Congressional Gold Medal, which is America's highest civilian honour, on Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this year.