(BBC) — Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has arrived in Geneva, where she will address the United Nations at the start of a visit to Europe.
She is due to make a speech at the UN’s International Labour Organisation, which has led a long campaign against child and slave labour in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi spent much of the past 24 years under house arrest in Burma.
The visit, her first to Europe since 1988, is seen as another milestone for the country’s political progress.
During a tour lasting over two weeks, she will visit the UK, Switzerland, Ireland, France and Norway, where she will accept her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
Correspondents say Aung San Suu Kyi is addressing the ILO in recognition of its longstanding focus on the poor human rights record of former Burma’s military rulers.
It is her second recent overseas trip, after visiting Thailand in May.
She told reporters before she left Burma that she expects the trip to Europe to be eye-opening.
“Each country will be different. I will know how backward [Burma] is when I reach the other countries,” she said.
She also added that she “would like to do my best for the interests of the people”.
Ms Suu Kyi has spent much of the past two decades under house arrest as a political prisoner. But as part of Burma’s recent reform process, she was freed in late 2010 and won a seat in parliament in by-elections in April this year.
Her decision to travel is seen as a sign of confidence in the government of President Thein Sein, who has pursued a course of reform since coming to power last year, in Burma’s first elections in 20 years.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burmese independence leader Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947.
She became the leader of Burma’s pro-democracy movement when, after living abroad for many years, she returned to Burma in 1988, initially to look after her sick mother.
After that, she did not leave the country until recently, fearing that the country’s then military rulers would not allow her to return to Burma.
The decision meant that she was unable to receive in person her Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1991, or be with her British husband, Michael Aris, when he died in 1999. (*)
SOURCE : BBC
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2012