Mayor gives Burmese opposition leader key to city

September 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
They lined up before sun rise, anxious to see the woman with many names, "She is like my mother," Fremont resident San Lin said. "She is like my hero."

"She" is Nobel Peace Prize winner, Burmese opposition leader, and international symbol of personal sacrifice Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This is the 67-year-old's first trip to San Francisco in more than 40 years.

On Saturday Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi gave Suu Kyi an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco, while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee gave her a key to the city, "She has been and continues to be an inspiration to our city and our communities here in San Francisco," Lee said.

The Bay Area has the third largest Burmese community in the country. Suu Kyi addressed the thousands here in English and in Burmese, as she laid out plans for her country's future.

"We look to our people from all over the world to help us in our transition to a genuinely democratic society," Suu Kyi said.

Suu Kyi has spent her life fighting for democracy -- a position that led to her house arrest in 1989. She spent the last 15 out of 21 years in forced confinement. All the while, a throng of people supported her. Suu Kyi is now a member of parliament and can demand change.

"We better start seeing progress in one or two years because our people are in great need," Suu Kyi said.

And those here are answering the call for action, "We want to help the country rebuild so it's very important why we are all here," San Jose resident Yasmin Yanya said.

San Francisco resident May Cherry added, "It's not done yet. She's still trying and we believe she is really good leader."

Saturday was Suu Kyi's last public appearance in the Bay Area, though she will spend the weekend here. On Monday she leaves for Los Angeles. And then, back to Burma.


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