Aung San Suu Kyi and Bono will meet at Oslo peace forum
Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will meet on Monday one of her biggest fans at a Norwegian peace forum — Bono, the U2 frontman and activist rock star who has written a song about her.
Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, who has herself received superstar treatment on a triumphant European tour after years of house arrest and isolation, will be joined by the Irish singer and 100 other guests at the annual Oslo Forum talks.
After their panel talk, Bono is to give Suu Kyi a lift to Dublin aboard his private jet, a Norwegian foreign ministry official said, where she will be feted at the “Electric Burma” tribute concert hosted by Amnesty International.
“It’s so rare to see grace trump military might, and when it happens we should make the most joyful noise we can,” Bono said on U2’s website.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s grace and courage has tilted a wobbly world further in the direction of democracy,” said the global rights activist, who dedicated U2’s 2001 single “Walk On” to Suu Kyi.
An emotional Suu Kyi delivered her Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall on Saturday more than two decades after receiving the peace prize awarded to her in 1991 for her “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.
She was unable to accept it at the time, as she was under house arrest and feared that the regime would bar her from returning to her country.
Suu Kyi and Bono will join other speakers at the Losby Gods retreat just outside Oslo to discuss “the role of dialogue in transition”, focusing on the sweeping changes in Myanmar as well as the “Arab Spring” nations.
The aim of the meeting “is to share practical experience of mediating between parties in conflict,” said Norway’s foreign ministry.
Other guests include Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Myanmar’s Minister of Industry U Soe Thane, and the president of think-tank the International Crisis Group, Louise Arbour, who is also former UN human rights chief.
At the Dublin concert later in the day, a different kind of line-up will feature Benin singer-activist Angelique Kidjo and US rapper Lupe Fiasco, while British campaigner Bob Geldof and actress Vanessa Redgrave will also appear.
After the concert around 5,000 people are expected at a public event to sing “happy birthday” to Suu Kyi, who turns 67 the following day in her former family home Britain, the next stop of her whirlwind Europe visit.
Suu Kyi has dealt humbly with the adoring crowds that have greeted her in Switzerland and Norway, telling an interviewer that she appreciates the warm welcomes while stressing that others have made greater sacrifices than hers.
Her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century is being hailed all the more because her and her party’s struggle has begun to pay off, as the former military regime has given way to a quasi-civilian government in the past year.
Suu Kyi — for years isolated, threatened and vilified by one of the world’s most repressive dictatorships — has rejoined mainstream politics, while hundreds of her party members have been freed from prison.
The Oxford-trained daughter of the country’s independence hero has warned against “reckless optimism” but also pledged that she and her National League for Democracy are committed to the path of healing and reconciliation.