Aung San Suu Kyi. Courtesy of Artist Min Kyaw Khine
“We feel very honored by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s work,” U Lwin, spokesman for her National League for Democracy, told RFA’s Burmese service. “To have Aung San Suu Kyi as a leader is like at one time when we had a leader like General Aung San,” Burma’s independence hero and Aung San Suu Kyi’s father.
“We felt the same, then and now. What is extraordinary now is that we have international support from various governments, and organizations that have honored her.”
Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, remains under house arrest by Burma’s military regime, raising doubts as to whether she might be able to accept the award, agreed unanimously by the U.S. Congress last week. No details on when the ceremony might be held were available.
Last year, Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, received the award at a ceremony attended by U.S. President Bush, to the dismay of the Chinese authorities, who regard him as an anti-Chinese separatist.
“This is a well-deserved honor for a remarkable woman who has led the struggle for freedom and democracy in her country,” Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who sponsored the Gold Medal effort, said.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party won parliamentary elections in 1990, two years after the junta came to power by crushing a nationwide pro-democracy movement. But the authorities never recognized the election result and have instead kept her under house arrest for years.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II have also been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Aung San Suu Kyi received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.