Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., continues to praise Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of her visit to Louisville.
Suu Kyi received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday for her commitment to democratic reforms in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. The medal is Congress’ highest honor, and lawmakers including McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush attended the ceremony.
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell says Suu Kyi has been an international symbol of peace and democracy since first being put under house arrest by the Burmese dictatorship in 1991.
“For nearly two decades—two decades—she remained under house arrest in her mothers old home on university avenue on the shores of Inya Lake. Over the years I’ve followed Suu Kyi closely, and I’ve done what I could to advance her cause,” he says.
Suu Kyi is on a landmark two week tour of the U.S. that includes a private meeting with President Obama at the White House. She has recently called for an end to sanctions on her impoverished country, and the administration has worked to begin easing them since May.
Since 2003, McConnell has co-sponsored the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act to pressure the country to adopt democratic reforms. Earlier this year the country adopted democratic reforms and Suu Kyi was elected to the country’s parliament.
“If not for the quiet determination and simple confidence of this remarkable woman, democratic reforms might have seemed a lost cause under the Burmese junta,” says McConnell. “But in November 2010, we were all encouraged when Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest. And since then we’ve seen other hopeful signs.”
Suu Kyi will be at the University of Louisville next Monday as part of the McConnell Center’s lecture series.