Chin Girl Received Award on Aung San Suu Kyi’s Behalf in Sweden
30 April 2011: A 10-year-old Chin girl, Laura Sakhong, received the World’s Children’s Prize crystal globe on behalf of Burma’s democracy champion, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in a ceremony held at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden on Thursday.
Dressed in Chin traditional costume, Laura, daughter of Dr. Lian and Runpen Sakhong, was presented the award by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden in honour of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who became the new patron of the World’s Children’s Prize, now joining two other global legends, Nelson Mandela and Xanana Gusmão.
A 4th Grade student in Sweden, Laura Sakhong said she was honoured to have received the award on Aung San Suu Kyi’s behalf, adding: “The Queen (Queen Silvia) said to me on stage ‘I am happy that I presented the prize for Aung San Suu Kyi. Please send my warmest regards to her.'”
HRM Queen Silvia of Sweden is the first Honorary Adult Friend of the World’s Children’s Prize, a unique educational programme for children, with 53,800 schools with 24.5 million pupils in 102 countries involved.
At Thursday’s Award Ceremony, 50 children from 15 countries also honoured their child rights hero, Murhabazi Namegabe from D. R. Congo; and Cecilia Flores-Oebanda from the Philippines, and Monira Rahman, from Bangladesh, with the World’s Children’s Honorary Award.
In her acceptance letter according to the WorldsChildrensPrize.Org, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Thank you very much for honouring me. Now that I am no longer in detention I hope I shall be able to participate in the activities of your foundation. As you well know Burmese children suffer from insufficient health care and inadequate education.”
Burma’s 66-year-old democratic icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, was finally released on 13 November 2010 after spending most of the last 20 years in some form of detention because of her efforts to bring democracy to the military-ruled nation.
Laura’s parents, Dr. Lian Hmung and Runpen Sakhong, expressed their delight for the occasion, saying: “As parents and Chin individuals working in the struggle for democracy in Burma, it is such an honour that our daughter received the award on behalf of our beloved leader, Kan Pi (a Chin honorific literally meaning ‘Our grandmother’).”
Mrs. Runpen Sakhong, alongside Swedish friends, has been actively involved with a charity organisation ‘Chinland Development and Research Society (CDRS)’ in helping about 800 children for their education, mostly orphans and from poor families in Chin State, Burma since its inception in 1999.
The recipient of the 2007 Martin Luther King Prize, Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong, has spent most of his adult life engaged in the struggle for freedom in Burma since 1988. As General Secretary of Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) and United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD), he worked closely with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 1988-89.
Following Lian’s escape from Burma in 1991 after being arrested and tortured by the military junta on three separate occasions between 1988 and 1990, the Sakhong family, with son David, 14, and daughter Laura, 10, has since lived in Stockholm, Sweden.
Founded in Sweden in 2000, the World’s Children’s Prize, which is run annually in collaboration with tens of thousands of teachers and hundreds of organisations across the world, is committed to promoting a more humane world through its programme from which millions of children learn about the rights of the child, democracy and global friendship every year.
Van Biak Thang