Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was busy last week in the United States, first visiting the United Nations in New York, then receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C. and on Saturday, speaking to the local San Francisco Bay Area Burmese community at the University of San Francisco, with over 5,000 in attendance. Myanmar, more popularly known as Burma prior to its military coup and takeover, had placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for almost 15 years for her promotion of democratic reform and was released in 2010, and this past Spring was elected into parliament.
The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest Burmese communities in the nation and the community lead the U.S. government to implement trade sanctions against the military regime. Aung San Suu Kyi had visited San Francisco once before – almost 40 years ago.
Mayor Ed Lee first spoke, enthusiastically greeting Aung San Suu Kyi and honoring her by giving her a symbolic key to the City of San Francisco. Congresswoman and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi honored Aung San Suu Kyi with the flag flown over the Capitol the day she received her Congressional Gold Medal as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco. Aung San Suu Kyi spoke a few minutes in English before speaking to the Burmese community in Burmese (headsets were available for translation). After a few minutes, she sat down and address quite a few personal and domestic and political questions, mostly in Burmese but as well as some questions in English, for almost if not over an hour.
What I got out of seeing 67-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi speak was that she is quite the energetic, eloquent and distinguished speaker who lives each and every day with humility and has strongly held beliefs and lives life practicing those strong convictions. She often stressed to those Burmese and those who wanted to help Burma to do so not for their own ego and reward, but for the people of Burma. The video I took captures all the events that occurred in English. I should probably watch the film The Lady about Aung San Suu Kyi to learn more about her story (or of course, read a book).