Burma

Suu Kyi Says Polish Path to Democracy Inspired Her

By Reuters 13 September 2013

WARSAW — Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told Polish democracy champion Lech Walesa on Thursday that she was inspired by how Poland had peacefully ended authoritarian rule and hoped her homeland would follow the same path to freedom.

Suu Kyi, who spent many years under house arrest for opposing Burma’s military rulers, met fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Walesa, who in the 1980s led the protests that helped oust Poland’s Communist authorities.

“We in Burma are just at the beginning of this road that you took many, many years earlier, a couple of decades earlier, but we believe, as you did then, that we should succeed,” she told reporters in the Polish capital.

“It is very encouraging for me to be among people who understand exactly the kind of struggle that we would still have to go through before we can say that we are a democratic society,” she said.

Walesa, a former shipyard worker who went on to be Poland’s first democratically elected president, said he was optimistic about Burma’s chances for freedom.

“We lost a number of battles before accomplishing success. They’re in a similar situation. They lose some battles, but in general they’ll probably win the war,” he said.

Suu Kyi is on a tour of eastern Europe that will also include visits to Hungary and the Czech Republic.

On Wednesday, Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi had to walk through the rain to visit Poland’s parliament after protesters blocked traffic, but she said she did not mind because it showed democracy in action.

Suu Kyi had to get out of her car and walk to avoid crowds of trade unionists protesting in front of the parliament in Warsaw.

Speaking to reporters after she reached the building, she brushed off the inconvenience. “It was interesting to me to see a democracy in action,” she said. “I had to come to the parliament on foot despite the rain.”

“The whole thing, thanks to the colorful jackets (worn by protesters), is beautiful,” she said.

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