Luc Besson‘s newest film, The Lady, stars international actress Michelle Yeoh portraying Burmese activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The film opens today in select theaters across the U.S. Read our interview in our Winter 11-12 issue of Audrey.
Appropriately, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Suu Kyi today at her residence in Rangoon, Burma, reportedly the first senior U.S. official in 50 years to visit Burma.
The 66-year-old daughter of Aung San, considered the father of modern-day Burma, returned to Burma in 1988, leaving her life in England with her Oxford professor husband and two sons, to lead the pro-democratic movement in the military-controlled country. (The home is the same one Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in for most of the last two decades.) Suu Kyi continues her fight for a democratic Burma, also known as Myanmar by the ruling military junta, and hopes to run in next year’s parliamentary elections.
“It’s a historical moment for both our countries because we hope that from this meeting, we will be able to proceed to us renewing the ties of friendship and understanding that bound our countries together since independence,” said Suu Kyi. She called for an end to the country’s division among its many ethnic groups, as well as the release of political prisoners.
“It is through engagement that we hope to promote the process of democratization,” she added. “For this, we do need the help not just of the United States, but of other members of the international community. We need capacity-building in Burma, we need technical assistance. We are very eager that the time will come soon when the World Bank can send in an assessment team to find out what it is that our country really needs.”
Secretary Clinton expressed hope that the her two-day visit with government officials and local leaders was the beginning of a move to true democracy. “The United States wants to be a partner with Burma. We want to work with you as you further democratization, as you release all political prisoners, as you begin the difficult but necessary process of ending the ethnic conflicts that have gone on far too long, as you hold elections that are free, fair, and credible.”
Secretary Clinton concluded by encouraging Suu Kyi. “I know you feel that you are standing for all the people of your country who deserve the same rights and freedoms of people everywhere. The people have been courageous and strong in the face of great difficulty over too many years. We want to see this country take its rightful place in the world. We want to see every child here given the chance for a good education, for the healthcare that he or she needs, for a job that will support a family, for development not only in the cities, but in the rural areas as well.”