Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, has welcomed the visit of Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi to Belfast today.
Ms. Suu Kyi, the chairperson of the National League for Democracy Burma, rose to international prominence as a symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. Ms.Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest because of her efforts to bring democracy to the military-ruled Burma, before eventually being released in November 2010.
On Tuesday 22nd October, Ms. Suu Kyi addressed the European Parliament after finally receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, some 23 years after it was originally awarded to her. Ms. Suu Kyi thanked MEPs for their support over the years, and said there was still progress to be made in her country: "We want to make sure that the right to think freely and to live according to our conscience is preserved."
Speaking ahead of her visit, Jim said: "It is terrific that Aung San Suu Kyi is visiting Northern Ireland today.
I was fortunate to be in attendance in Strasbourg when Ms. Suu Kyi addressed the Parliament. I, and am sure all the other MEPs in the room and everyone watching at home, could not help but be moved by the courage and conviction Ms. Suu Kyi has demonstrated in her pursuit of freedom and democracy for Burma.
I am also delighted that Ms. Suu Kyi specifically requested to come to Northern Ireland during her visit to the UK. While no one could argue that our political system is perfect, the progress that both Northern Ireland and Burma have made in recent times must be recognised, and I hope we can share and learn from our experiences in order to strengthen the democratic process.
Ms. Suu Kyi is a truly remarkable woman, and continues to be an inspiration to us all."