Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to be invited to Dublin by Mayor Gerry Breen to accept in person the freedom of the city conferred on her 10 years ago.
Ms Suu Kyi was given the Freedom of the City of Dublin in March 2000 by the then mayor, Mary Freehill. She is the only person who has received the honour who has not signed the roll of the Freemen of the City of Dublin.
Mr Breen yesterday said he would work with Ms Freehill to issue an invitation to Ms Suu Kyi “as soon as possible” to visit Dublin and sign the roll. Ms Freehill said it had always been her regret that Ms Suu Kyi had been unable to come to Dublin.
President Mary McAleese praised Ms Suu Kyi’s “remarkable courage and resilience” during her long period of detention.
“She has been a beacon of hope for the Burmese people and her release is a wonderful boost to all those who never gave up on the peaceful struggle for democracy.”
Ms McAleese said she hoped her release would mark a new beginning for Burma.
“I sincerely hope that today’s welcome developments represent a genuine sign of new and progressive thinking by the Burmese authorities and that they mark, not just the end of the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, but also the beginning of the end of a dark chapter in the history of Burma.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin welcomed the release but said it did not in itself signify a move towards real reform in Burma. “There are concerns that she may remain under close watch and restrictions; that would be entirely unacceptable. More than 2,000 other prisoners of conscience remain in Burmese jails. These too must be freed, both as an issue of fundamental human rights and as an essential component of political progress.”
Amnesty International Ireland director Colm O’Gorman said Ms Suu Kyi was inspiration to a generation of human rights activists. “The release of Aung San Suu Kyi must not mean that we forget the other prisoners in Myanmar. Her release must be the first of many.”
Campaigning Irish pop star Bono said he felt a “cautious joy” at her release, and hoped the military junta in Rangoon would open democracy talks.
“All of these things are bound up in the same thought for me, which is just one of freedom and equality. Our audiences have had to suffer me banging on about this stuff for a long time!”
The U2 frontman praised Suu Kyi’s dedication to championing the causes of oppressed people around the world: “She is kind of the Mandela of our moment. She’s a character of great grace.”