Myanmar’s Suu Kyi onstage in Dublin with Bono

Agence France-Presse

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Aung San Suu Kyi received a rock star welcome in Ireland Monday, June 18

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and Irish singer Bono (L) arrive at Dublin airport in Dublin, Ireland on June 18, 2012. Aung San Suu Kyi landed in Ireland with U2 star Bono by her side for a flying visit on her European tour that was to see her pick up a prize honouring her unwavering commitment to human rights. AFP PHOTO / PETER MUHLY

DUBLIN, Ireland – Aung San Suu Kyi received a rock star welcome in Ireland Monday, June 18, with U2 singer Bono among those performing at a concert to honor the Myanmar democracy icon after flying in with her on his private jet.

Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi took to the stage with Bono to receive a prize from Amesty International at the rights group’s “Electric Burma” concert in a packed Dublin theatre.

She was later given the freedom of the city of Dublin at a special ceremony and crowds joined in singing “Happy Birthday” as she was given a cake to mark her 67th birthday, which is on Tuesday.

Bono thanked Suu Kyi for being at the concert, saying: “We know there are many many other places you could be and we understand the signal your presence here sends out and we are humbled, we are grateful.”

Suu Kyi sat alongside Bono — who has long supported Suu Kyi’s freedom struggle and dedicated the song “Walk On” to her — after the pair travelled from Oslo, Norway, where they had co-hosted a peace forum.

“To receive this award is to remind me that 24 years ago I took on duties from which I shall never be relieved but you have given me the strength to carry out,” Suu Kyi said in reply.

“I have discovered how much more people care. I had not expected this. I had not known how much they cared. This has come as a surprise to me and a very moving one.”

The concert, attended by around 2,000 people, opened with Ireland’s Riverdance troupe performing against an atmospheric set designed to look like a nocturnal beach scene.

Suu Kyi received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, the rights group’s most prestigious prize, after performances from world artists including Benin singer Angelique Kidjo and US rapper Lupe Fiasco.

She won the award in 2009 but was under house arrest in Myanmar at the time so could not collect it.

The concert also featured a recorded message from Dave Lee Travis, the British DJ nicknamed the “Hairy Cornflake”, who Suu Kyi has said kept her spirits up during her time under house arrest.

Myanmar comedian-activist Zarganar, another of the performers, said he spent almost 11 years in prison in his country “because of making jokes”.

Bono, wearing his trademark black glasses, wrapped up the event with a performance of “Walk On”, followed by U2’s “One”.

In Dublin, Suu Kyi also met with Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

After the concert at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, thousands of people turned out at an open-air event to see Suu Kyi given the Freedom of the City of Dublin, some 12 years after she was named for the honor.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, paid tribute to “a democracy and human rights activist of world renown”, promising Suu Kyi: “The Irish people will stand by you.”

Suu Ky briefly thanked the crowds but warned them that the “troubles are not over yet” in Myanmar.

An emotional Suu Kyi delivered her Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall on Saturday, more than two decades after the peace prize was awarded to her in 1991. She was unable to accept it at the time.

After visiting Ireland, Suu Kyi’s 17-day European tour takes her to Britain on Tuesday.

She will celebrate her birthday with a family reunion in the southern English town of Oxford, where she studied at the prestigious university and lived for several years with the late Michael Aris, her English husband and father of her two sons.

Oxford University, where she studied politics, philosophy and economics, will award her with an honorary degree on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Suu Kyi is to address both houses of parliament in London as well as meet Prime Minister David Cameron and heir to the throne Prince Charles.

Suu Kyi’s tour, which also takes in Switzerland and France, is her first trip to Europe for 24 years.

It has been clouded by continued violence in western Myanmar where dozens of people have been killed and more than 30,000 people displaced by clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya. – Ruth Holmes, Agence France-Presse

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