Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi will speak at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center Monday morning.
Suu Kyi is in the middle of a two-week U.S. visit, where she’s been trying to reassure supporters and skeptics that the reforms in Burma–also known as Myanmar–are genuine.
She has already received the Congressional Gold Medal and has met with President Barack Obama.
“Perhaps the principal purpose of her trip is to help to improve the image of Burma worldwide, bring it in from the cold. For many, many years it was a pariah state,” said Jason Abbott, U of L’s Aung San Suu Kyi Endowed Chair in Asian Democracy.
Abbott has followed Suu Kyi’s career for most of this 15-year career and he never thought he’d get a chance to meet the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, he said.
She was recently elected and recognized by her country’s parliament and was only recently allowed to leave the country.
Suu Kyi’s visit to the U.S. has been both celebratory and political. She’s called for the U.S. sanctions on her country to be lifted and for Burmese refugees living in the U.S. to support the democratic movement in Burma, said Abbott.
“The picture from Burma has looked bleak for so many years that the scale of reforms that we’ve seen and the rapidity of the reforms process has really taken everyone by surprise,” he said.
Since Suu Kyi’s visit, personal sanctions on Burma’s president and parliamentary speaker have been lifted.
Suu Kyi will address the McConnell Center at 9 am this morning.