Suu Kyi Picks Up Degree in San Francisco

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the San Francisco Freedom Forum in San Francisco on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

SAN FRANCISCO—Nobel Peace Laureate and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi received an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco during her landmark visit to the United States.

Most of the nearly 5,000 seats at the university’s War Memorial Gymnasium were filled on Saturday morning as Suu Kyi was presented with the framed degree by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents a local district, and given a key to the city by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The 67-year-old spoke to the crowd in English for several minutes before switching to Burmese. She also answered written questions from the audience.

In her speech, she urged factions in the Southeast Asian nation, officially known as Myanmar, to consider what they have or have not done to promote peace.

Suu Kyi’s appearance at the university is part of her high-profile visit to the US that has included a private meeting with President Barack Obama and standing ovations at ceremonies in Washington and New York.

“USF is honored to serve as the home for this event working in partnership with the San Francisco Bay Area Burmese community to shine a ray of light on Burma at this pivotal moment in its history,” said USF President Stephen Privett.

Suu Kyi has been a key player in Burma’s political transformation after a half-century of military rule.

Until November 2010 she had spent about 15 years under house arrest during the former military regime. Now she heads the main opposition group with 43 seats in Parliament, which is dominated by allies of the former regime.

Still, her presence in the legislature is a huge step toward democracy. She has also been named head of a 15-member parliamentary committee tasked with helping to implement rule of law in the country. Her National League for Democracy party had boycotted the November 2010 elections but took part in by-elections in April.


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