Belfast Telegraph

Nobel laureate visit: Aung San Suu Kyi says lessons from peace process can help Burma

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said lessons from Northern Ireland's peace process will help the people of Burma reconcile their differences.

She met political leaders, police and school children during a whistlestop tour of the region.

The peacemaker and former political prisoner said she was in Northern Ireland to listen and ask questions, because in her homeland during 50 years of military rule questions were not encouraged.

"The main reason I have come to Northern Ireland is to learn about how you managed to negotiate a peace process in spite of all the difficulties," she said at Wellington College in Belfast.

"It is very useful, what we have learned here I think will help us a great deal back in Burma.

"I want to see from you how you see your present day problems because I am told the work is not done."

She said divisions in Northern Ireland, dating back 800 years, were more deep seated but in Burma the problem was much more complex, with a multiplicity of ethnicities and challenges in integrating a new military and civilian administration.

Earlier she had lunch with members of the PSNI and justice minister David Ford.

She has also met members of the main political parties at Stormont, including largest powersharing partners Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists.

The Burmese opposition leader also toured Belfast and visited the Titanic Belfast visitor centre.

"The last 30 years has been a struggle not just against a dictatorship but a struggle against our people accepting the dictatorial regime's definition of their own country and it is a matter of making our people think for themselves and, as we put it, to shape their own destiny," she said.

"We wanted to shape our own destiny, we decided that we had the right to shape our own destiny.

"It is always the case that authoritarian governments try to convince the people that they know best, that the people don't know best and it is best for them to listen to their rules and to do exactly what they are told."


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