Myanmar's Suu Kyi to deliver BBC lectures

10th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver two BBC lectures on the struggle against authoritarian regimes, eight months after her release from house arrest, the broadcaster said Friday.

The addresses have been pre-recorded in Myanmar and form part of the 2011 Reith Lectures, a major annual event in the BBC calendar which honours the first head of the broadcaster, John Reith.

"To be speaking to you through the BBC has a very special meaning for me. It means that once again I am officially a free person," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi in a statement released by the BBC.

"When I was officially 'unfree', that is to say when I was under house arrest, it was the BBC that spoke to me -- I listened."

Her first lecture, to be broadcast on June 28, looks at dissent in Myanmar and the second, to be broadcast on July 5, explores how freedom can be won with reference to the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Middle East.

Suu Kyi was released on November 13 following her latest stint of house arrest, which lasted seven years, and shortly after the country's first elections in 20 years.

Oxford-educated Suu Kyi swept the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide election win in 1990, but the military regime never accepted the result and she spent much of the past two decades a prisoner in her own home.

Her party boycotted the November 7 elections, saying the rules were unfair. Suu Kyi was excluded from the vote which was won by the military's political proxies.

Power is now held by a nominally civilian but army-backed government.

In her comments released on Friday, Suu Kyi said that listening to the BBC while she was under house arrest gave her "a kind of freedom, the freedom of reaching out to other human minds.

"Of course it was not the same as a personal exchange but it was a form of human contact."

She added: "Even though I cannot be with you in person, I am so grateful for this opportunity to exercise my right to human contact by sharing with you my thoughts on what freedom means to me and others across the world who are still in the sad state of what I would call unfreedom'."

© 2011 AFP

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