Myanmar’s pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi capped a ‘homecoming’ visit to Britain Thursday with an unprecedented address to a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament and a meeting with Tibetan leader Dalai Lama who praised her courage.
Suu Kyi became the first non-head of state to address the members of the lower and upper houses of the British parliament — a privilege that has only been accorded to dignitaries such as US President Barack Obama and the Pope.
She told 1,400 invited guests at the historic Westminster Hall that during her 15 years in house arrest, it was not just the BBC and other broadcasters that “kept me in touch with the world — it was also the music of Ravi Shankar and Mozart.”
And she doffed a cap to the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, saying her later father Aung San’s best-known photograph — taken outside 10 Downing Street in 1947 — shows him wearing a large British overcoat given by Nehru “to protect him against the unaccustomed cold. And I must say that having not left my tropical country for 24 years, there have been odd moments when I’ve thought of that coat.”
Suu Kyi, who lived in Oxford for many years after marrying her late British husband, met with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday.
The Dalai Lama’s office said, “After more than half an hour’s close conversation, during which His Holiness told her that just as her late father had shown great dedication, he was confident that she too would be of great service to humanity, he wished her every success in fulfilling her life’s goals. He also said he looked forward to meeting her again.”
On Myanmar, she said: “My country today stands at the start of a journey towards, I hope, a better future. So many hills remain to be climbed, chasms to be bridged, obstacles to be breached.”
Suu Kyi was cheered and given a standing ovation by British legislators. “Our own determination can get us so far. The support of the people of Britain and of peoples around the world can get us so much further,” she said.