News / Asia

    Aung San Suu Kyi Receives US Congressional Gold Medal

    Cindy Saine
    Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has received the Congressional Gold Medal - the highest honor Congress can bestow, at a ceremony Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Later she met with President Obama at the White House.

    Members of the U.S. Congress from both chambers and both major political parties gathered to pay tribute to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was first awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, while she was under 15 years of house arrest in Burma.  On Wednesday, she was in the Capitol Rotunda in person, surrounded by congressional leaders, to receive the honor.

    Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell has been a strong advocate of Suu Kyi and the democracy movement in Burma for almost two decades.

    "And it is impossible today, all these years later, not to be moved by the thought, that this most unlikely of revolutionaries may yet witness the deepest longing of her heart," said McConnell.

    An emotional Republican Senator John McCain thanked Suu Kyi for teaching him about courage.

    "I consider myself very fortunate to have lived to see this day and to know the people of Burma, whose dignity and rights Aung San Suu Kyi has sacrificed so much to defend, and will one day be free to live with dignity and justice and hope," said McCain.

    -The United States' highest civilian award
    -Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the medal in 2008, while under house arrest in Burma, for her leadership and commitment to human rights
    -The first Congressional Gold Medal recipient was George Washington, the first U.S. president, in 1776
    -Other recent recipients include India's Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Reverend Martin Luther King
    Many of the lawmakers who spoke mentioned the great personal sacrifices Aung San Suu Kyi made for the cause she believed in.  Burma's military junta separated her from her family and she was not even permited to visit her husband when he was dying of cancer.

    But Wednesday was more a day of joy, and former First Lady Laura Bush celebrated the triumph of the democratic reforms Burma has launched over the past two years.

    "The transition in Burma, like past events in South Africa or Eastern Europe, shows that history has a hopeful direction.  It is capable of miracles.  There is a part of every soul that longs for freedom and any government built on opression is built on sand," said Laura Bush.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized that Suu Kyi was not content just to remain a symbol of democracy, an icon, but is continuing the fight as a member of parliament in Burma.

    "It is almost too delicious to believe, my friend, that you are here in the Rotunda of our great Capitol, the centerpiece of our democracy, as an elected member of your parliament," said Clinton.

    After all the praise heaped upon her, Suu Kyi was soft-spoken in her response.

    "This is one of the most moving days of my life, to be here in a house undivided, a house joined together to welcome a stranger from a distant land.  Yet I do not feel myself to be a stranger, for I see many familiar faces, and faces that are new to me but known through what they have done for my country and for our cause," said Aung San Suu Kyi.

     
    Aung San Suu Kyi's tour of the United StatesAung San Suu Kyi's tour of the United States
    x
    Aung San Suu Kyi's tour of the United States
    Aung San Suu Kyi's tour of the United States

    During her visit to the United States, Suu Kyi has said she supports the easing of the remaining U.S. sanctions against Burma. 

    On Wednesday, while she was the Capitol, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that sanctions against Burmese President Thein Sein and the speaker of the lower house of parliamentart Thura Shwe Mann have been lifted.

    • Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, October 2, 2012.
    • Burmese opposition leader speaks at the University of San Francisco after receiving an honorary doctorate degree, San Francisco, California, September 29, 2012.
    • Nobel laureate holds the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Human Rights Foundation's first San Francisco Freedom Forum in San Francisco, California, September 28, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses a gathering at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 27, 2012.
    • Burmese democracy leader receives a traditional Chin shawl before speaking in Fort Wayne, Indiana, September 25, 2012.
    • An infant in the audience wears the flag of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy as the Burmese pro-democracy leader speaks in Fort Wayne, Indiana, September 25, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi receives an award from U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (L) at Queens College in New York, September 22, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of Burma's National League for Democracy, receives a Global Citizen Award from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde during third annual Global Citizen Awards Dinner in New York, September 21, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi signs the guest book of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations in New York, September 21, 2012.
    • Burma's opposition leader receives the National Endowment for Democracy award from Carl Gershman (L), President of the National Endowment for Democracy, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a ceremony in Washington, September 20, 2012.
    • Burma's recipients of the National Endowment for Democracy award (L-R) Aung San Suu Kyi, Khun Htun Oo, Aung Din, Dr Cynthia Maung and Kyaw Thu, during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 20, 2012.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi holds her Congressional Gold Medal after it was presented to her by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (2nd L), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012.
    • Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Senators (L-R) John Kerry (D-MA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jim Webb (D-VA), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012.
    • Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the Voice of America, September 18, 2012 (Neeta Maskey Torrini/VOA)
    • Aung San Suu Kyi is presented with the Global Vision Award by Asia Society trustee Tom Freston at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., September 18, 2012.
    • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) introduces Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to speak at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., September 18, 2012.

    Related Video courtesy - VOA Carolyn Presutti

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: jason from: Cambodia
    September 20, 2012 10:44 AM
    After reforming politics, Burmese people will be closer and closer to knowing democracy. Congratulation Suu Kyi

    by: hane from: dakar
    September 20, 2012 4:54 AM
    I love her courage, good luck

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.