Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged cooperation among leaders in her country to work for its good. Speaking briefly during a visit to the United Nations Friday, she said the time has come for the Burmese people to take responsibility for democratizing their own country.
Aung San Suu Kyi is making her first visit to the United States in decades, just days ahead of a visit by her president, Thein Sein, who will be making his international debut at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual debate on Thursday morning.
Asked if she worried about stealing his spotlight, she said she did not think people should think about it in terms of personalities.
“I think we should think about it as a common goal," she said. "If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large.”
The pro-democracy activist, who spent years under house arrest during military rule, said she welcomed the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Burma.
“It is time now that the Burmese people took responsibility for their democratization of the country," said the opposition leader. "I am very, very appreciative of what the U.S. Congress has done for many years to support our movement, but now we have to try to work on our own, of course, with the continuing support and help of friends.”
Aung San Suu Kyi met Friday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said she has become a “global symbol of human rights."
“We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country, together with President Thein Sein of Myanmar,” he said.
Afterwards, the democracy icon met with U.N. staff from Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. Staffer Hnin Yu said Aung San Suu Kyi urged the diaspora to be involved in Burma’s transition.
“She said wherever you are, in a way, you can help out. You don’t have to be there to help out, everybody can be involved,” said Hnin Yu.
Friday night Aung San Suu Kyi was to pick up yet another award, this time from the Atlantic Council, where she will be one of their Global Citizens of the Year. On Wednesday, she received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.
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.