Carleton University Holds Ceremony to Honour Aung San Suu Kyi

Carleton University awarded an honorary doctorate in absentia today to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi at a special ceremony.

A Doctor of Laws honoris causa was awarded in recognition of Ms. Suu Kyi’s “distinguished contribution to people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.’’

“Her leadership and courage are an example to us all,’’ said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “As an active partner in the global community, Carleton is pleased to recognize the international contributions of Aung San Suu Kyi.’’

The ceremony included a speech by the Hon. Flora MacDonald, who has devoted her post-political career to international humanitarian work and has met Ms. Suu Kyi.

“What she has been able to accomplish, especially with so much time spent under house arrest, is nothing short of remarkable,’’ said Ms. MacDonald. “Her personal life has suffered so greatly yet she is a steadfast beacon for democracy in a country that badly needs heroes.’’

In a videotaped address accepting the honorary degree, Ms. Suu Kyi pointed out that she is an honorary citizen of Canada and is aware of the “great work’’ of Carleton students to help Burma’s democracy movement.

“I’m very glad this is an honorary degree in law,’’ said Ms. Suu Kyi. “I feel that I am accepting it on behalf of the legal aid committee of the National League of Democracy.’’

The ceremony was attended by government and embassy representatives, as well as Carleton faculty and other members of the university community.

Carleton recieved Ms. Suu Kyi’s acceptance speech courtesy of the Canadian Friends of Burma.

Background:
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the Asian country formerly known as Burma.

She was born in June 1945 in Rangoon. Her father, General Aung San, negotiated Burma’s independence from the British Empire in 1947 but was assassinated by his rivals that same year.

After living abroad for many years, Ms. Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her critically ill mother and helped found the National League of Democracy to focus the revolt against then-dictator General Ne Win.

Her party won national elections in May 1990 but the junta refused to hand over control.

She has spent most of the last 20 years in some form of detention because of her efforts to bring democracy to the military-ruled nation.

She was finally released on Nov. 13, 2010 after another set of elections that left military-backed parties in control.

Aung San Suu Kyi has won numerous international awards, including the Rafto Human Rights Prize (1990), the Nobel Peace Prize (1991), the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (1990) from the European Parliament and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom (2000).

In 2007, the Canadian government made her an honorary Canadian citizen, one of only five people to ever receive the honour.

She is the author of several books, including Freedom from Fear and Other Writings (1995), The Voice of Hope (1998), Letters From Burma (1998), Aung San of Burma: A Biological Portrait by His Daughter (1991) and Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity (1994).

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For more information:
Amy Guest
Media Relations Officer
613-520-2600, ext. 8718
Amy_Guest@carleton.ca