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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 14:13 GMT
Clinton honours Burma's Suu Kyi
Alexander Aris, Suu Kyi's son
Suu Kyi's son received the award on her behalf
US President Bill Clinton has conferred America's highest civilian honour on Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.


She is an astonishingly brave woman

President Clinton
But Aung San Suu Kyi was unable to collect the Presidential Medal of Freedom in person because she is under virtual house arrest in the Burmese capital Rangoon.

"She sits confined, as we speak here, in her home in Rangoon, unable to speak to her people or the world." Mr Clinton said as he presented the award to her son, Alexander Aris. "But her struggle continues and her spirit still inspires us."

Aung San Suu Kyi
Suu Kyi is confined to her house
Aung San Suu Kyi is already a Nobel Peace Prize winner because of her opposition to the country's military rulers who have now confined her to her home.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide victory in elections in 1990 but the military authorities refused to hand over power.

Bravery

Mr Clinton warned Burma's rulers they would remain outcasts until they allowed Aung San Suu Kyi's party to take power.


America will be a friend to freedom in Burma for as long as it takes to reach [that] goal

President Clinton
Paying tribute to the democracy leader, he added: "She has seen her supporters beaten, tortured and killed, yet she has never responded to hatred and violence in kind. All she has ever asked for is peaceful dialogue.

"The only weapons the Burmese people have are the words of reason and the example of this astonishingly brave woman." he added.

"America will also be a friend to freedom in Burma - a friend for as long as it takes to reach the goal for which she has sacrificed so very much."

Aung San Suu Kyi was confined to her house in September after trying to leave the capital to visit party supporters in Mandalay.

The authorities also placed her under house arrest for six years from 1989 until 1995.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry Truman as a wartime honour. President John F Kennedy reintroduced it as way to honour civilian service.

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See also:

25 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi
17 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma accused of murder
27 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese opposition HQ blockaded
22 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: War of attrition continues
22 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
No train ticket for Suu Kyi
16 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's Suu Kyi sued by brother
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