Sunday, July 1, 2012

"I try to read a little bit of French everyday..." Suu Kyi said

In 1988, I had the privilege to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband at their home in Rangoon. She was not yet the famous Lady we know today. She had just delivered that historical speech at the Shwedagon Pagoda. I was in the crowd that day, and remember not being able to hear anything she said due to bad sound system. But it was just great to be there! We all thought a new era had come for the country - We did not know yet that it would take 3 more decades... Philippe, a téméraire young French journalist  had convinced me to come along with him to Daw Suu's place to ask for an interview. She gracefully answered the questions in English and... in French. 

This week, she was in France shaking hands with president François Hollande. Comme quoi, tout arrive en ce bas monde ! 

Reuters – Tue, Jun 26, 2012

PARIS (Reuters) - France's revolutionary spirit, art, literature and even its onion soup served as an inspiration to Myanmar pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi during years of house arrest, she said on Tuesday.

Asked in Paris, as she nears the end of a 17-day European tour, what a visit to France meant to her, Suu Kyi, who studied the French language and culture during 15 years confined to her home, responded:
"Everything from Victor Hugo to onion soup."
"It would be difficult for me to say in a few short (words) what France means to me (but) the revolutionary spirit of France has always been inspirational to me in my political struggle," she told reporters during a joint news conference with France's new Socialist president, Francois Hollande.
Hollande welcomed the 67-year-old Nobel Peace laureate with full head-of-state honors during a visit that would have been unimaginable 19 months ago, when an authoritarian junta ruled Myanmar and confined her to her home.
Suu Kyi said that under house arrest she had immersed herself in learning French and understanding its literature and referred by name to Hugo, whose masterpiece "Les Miserables" depicts the struggle of the poor in 19th-century France.
"I am such an admirer of Victor Hugo because he understood that true revolution begins within yourself. So we have to make those that are not yet committed to the path of reform understand that a revolution from within themselves is the best way to improve the situation in the country," she said.
"A superficial acceptance of what is happening now is not enough."
While under house arrest, the Oxford graduate became an emblem of non-violent political resistance. After her release in November 2010, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party dominated April by-elections and threatens the military-backed ruling party ahead of a general election in 2015.
"I try to read a little bit of French everyday so I am always in touch with France and the thoughts and ideas that have made France one of the foremost champions of liberty in the world," she said.