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Aung San Suu Kyi at the Newseum

Posted by: | September 24, 2012 | No Comment |

Professor Klein requested that I write about my experience at the Newseum from Thursday September 20th. At this event I was honored to be in attendance when Noble Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi spoke to a group of Amnesty International members.

Aung San Suu Kyi is pro-democracy leader in the country of Myanmar. Having been under house arrest for more than fifteen years, Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released earlier this year by the Burmese government.

Her visit to the Newseum was part of a seventeen day trip around the United States. Prior that day, she was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal which was presented by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton along with Speaker of the House John Boehner.

The Newseum appeared to be the perfect place to host Kyi. In a world where the freedom of speech, press, and expression aren’t equal, the Newseum highlights the importance of a free press. Aung San Suu Kyi, who for so many years wasn’t allowed to speak, was in a place that honors freedom of speech.

Aung San Suu Kyi at the Newseum on September 20

According Reporters Without Borders, a nonprofit that monitors attacks on freedom of information, Burma restricts freedom of the press. In the case of Nay Phone Latt,  a blogger from Burma who was serving a twelve year prison sentence until we was released in November 2011. Using his blog and the internet cafes available, Latt reported on the street demonstrations. While violence still occurs in the streets of Burma, writers such as Latt and opposition leader such Kyi continue to fight for a free government and a free press.

When asked what wants the next generation to do, Kyi simply replied that “younger generations must find out why people put away political prisoners.” Instead of just releasing political prisoners, Kyi encouraged younger generations to get at the heart of the reasons behind why governments suppress individuals.

Since the rise of the pro-democracy movement. Kyi highlighted that the government is now allowing independent newspapers to be published. Before newspapers were owned strictly by the state and her father’s image wasn’t allowed to be published, as he was the first leader of the pro-democracy movement.

Listening to her speak was one of the most inspirational moments of my life. It is not often that one gets to be the presence of someone who has faced so much and is so keenly aware of her place in a difficult political struggle. I was very honored to be a part of this event.


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