x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Suu Kyi ends 'rock star' European tour in Paris

The Nobel Peace laureate, who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle, has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.

PARIS //Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi wrapped up her tour of Europe in France yesterday, after being lauded during her numerous visits as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.

The Nobel Peace laureate, who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle, has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.

In France, she was treated with honours normally reserved for heads of state, dining at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday with Francois Hollande, the recently elected president, who pledged support for her country's transition towards democracy.

Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general Thein Sein, now the president, has freed political prisoners and allowed Ms Suu Kyi's party back into mainstream politics.

Ms Suu Kyi, 67, has in the past two weeks visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and now France, receiving enthusiastic and emotional rock star welcomes along the way.

The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, and to thank groups and institutions from the Rafto Foundation and Amnesty International to Oxford University for awards they have given her.

Yesterday she visited both houses of France's parliament - the National Assembly and the Senate - and talk to students at the Sorbonne university in Paris.

She started the day with a 45-minute breakfast with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in a Paris hotel.

On Wednesday, Ms Suu Kyi received her 2004 honorary citizen of Paris certificate and was hailed by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe for her "tenacity" and "unshakeable faith" in her campaign for democracy in the country formerly called Burma.

Ms Suu Kyi has enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh.