Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver her first speech outside the country since at least 1988 before a U.N. labour conference in Geneva on June 14, the head of the U.N. labour office said Tuesday.
Suu Kyi’s speech to the annual conference of the Geneva-based U.N.’s International Labour Organization will be a key element of her first trip abroad since 1988, when she returned to Myanmar to care for her ailing mother.
“This will be the first place where she will speak internationally after leaving Myanmar,” Juan Somavia, the ILO’s director-general, said on Tuesday.
After becoming leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, Ms. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 of the following 22 years of military rule. Her confinement also prevented her from attending the ceremony in Oslo, Norway, where she was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
Over the past couple of decades or so, Ms. Suu Kyi was only rarely allowed to receive visitors or to communicate with the outside world at her lakeside home in Yangon, the capital.
And while she was always free to leave Myanmar, she chose to stay partly out of fear she would be denied permission to re-enter and forced to live as a political exile.
The ILO has long been a vocal critic of forced labour in Myanmar. The junta was shunned for its human rights abuses and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government led by Ms. Suu Kyi after her victory in a 1990 general election.
But after a 2010 general election and Ms. Suu Kyi’s election to parliament last month, the United States and other Western governments have begun to roll back years of hard-hitting restrictions against the Asian nation.
Ms. Suu Kyi also plans to visit Norway, where she will deliver her acceptance speech for the Nobel prize nearly 21 years after winning it. Her eldest son, Alexander Aris, had accepted the peace prize on her behalf during the 1991 ceremony. Norway’s government said Ms. Suu Kyi will also meet Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg during her visit.
She is also expected to visit Britain, where she got a college degree in philosophy and spent much of her married life raising two sons.
In 2010, she was able to see her youngest son, Kim Aris, after a decade-long separation when the junta finally gave him a visa to enter Myanmar and visit her.
She received her first passport in 24 years earlier this month.