Activists Campaign to Get Suu Kyi Invited to Canada
21 November 2010: Canada-based Burmese activists are initiating a campaign aimed at getting the Canadian government to invite the recently freed Aung San Suu Kyi to receive her honorary Canadian citizenship.
The 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate was awarded, in absentia, the honorary Canadian citizenship three years ago by the current ruling Conservative government.
Activists are organizing a letter-writing campaign trying to urge the ruling government to invite the leader of the internationally recognized Burma’s pro-democracy leader to personally receive her honorary citizenship in Canada.
Kyaw Zaw Way, a leader of the Burma Ethnic Nationalities Network – Canada (BENN-Canada) who initiated the campaign said, “We are urging the Canadian government to remind the Burmese regime to ensure the safety of honorary Canadian citizen Aung San Suu Kyi and [for the Canadian government] to invite her to receive her award in person.”
Earlier this week, amidst concerns for the physical security of the newly freed popular leader, a group of over 40 Canadian Parliamentarians had warned they would hold the Burmese regime and its likely successor Union Solidarity and Development Organization (USD) responsible for the safety of Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi is one of only five people in the world who have been bestowed honorary Canadian citizenship. She stands along side South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, both fellow Nobel Peace Laureates.
A symbolic honor, honorary Canadian citizenship is awarded to foreign nationals of ‘exceptional merits.’
Winner of some of the highest international awards, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1990 European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, Suu Kyi never had a chance to personally receive her honors as she had been kept under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years.
Last week, the Nobel Committee in Norway invited the Burmese pro-democracy icon to give a belated acceptance speech for the prize she won almost two decades ago.
Urging other activists to sign the petition addressed to the Canadian foreign minister Lawrence Cannon, Kyaw Zaw Way said, “I would like to request you to act as soon as possible and encourage your family and friends to do the same.”