Suu Kyi awarded freedom of city
Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has joined Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldof and Sir Bobby Robson in being awarded the freedom of the city of Newcastle.
The Nobel Prize winner is not allowed to leave her country so the honour was accepted on her behalf by Wai Hnin, whose father is a political prisoner and who represents the Burma Campaign UK.
Her name will now be engraved on the walls of the city's Civic Centre, where an official ceremony took place on Friday night.
Wai Hnin said: "Suu Kyi is a symbol of freedom. She is not only Burma's leader - she is our mother. If Suu Kyi could come here she would say to people in the UK in general, and Newcastle in particular, 'Please use your freedom to campaign for democracy and human rights in Burma'."
A scroll announcing her honorary title will stay in the Burma Campaign UK offices in London in the hope that in the future it can be sent along with other awards to Burma.
Peter Sagar, the chairman of Amnesty International in the North East, lobbied Newcastle City Council to make the award.
He said the idea came from discussions with activists in other UK cities that had honoured her.
"It's the old Amnesty idea of lighting a candle in the darkness and saying to these regimes: 'We know what you're doing, and now you know we know what you're doing.' And they don't like that.
"Aung San Suu Kyi, you are not alone in this struggle. The people in Newcastle Upon Tyne are with you in this struggle for freedom and democracy."
Aung San Suu Kyi was released in November last year after being held in detention by Burma's ruling military junta. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, a year after her party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming majority in an election that was not recognised by the military junta.