Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in a live broadcast from Burma, addressed the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. Suu Kyi, who engaged in a conversation with moderator Charlie Rose and fellow Nobel laureate Demond Tutu, engaged in a wide ranging discussion (video) on human rights, the democracy struggle in Burma, and her views on the Arab Spring.
Suu Kyi reflected on recent uprisings in the Middle East and the role of the Arab Spring in spreading democracy. She said:
Movements like the ones that have been going on in the Arab countries mean something to peoples all over the world who are struggling for their own freedom. It reminded many of us in Burma of what happened in 1988 when our people rose up to ask for democracy. Of course our societies are very different but in the end we’re all human beings. And I think we can all understand each other’s hopes and fears and aspirations. We would like the Arab countries to be as happy and prosperous and secure as we would want our own countries to be.
Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest for her role as the opposition leader against Burma’s military junta, reflected on the sacrifices she and her family have made:
All journeys are made step by step and that’s how I’ve made this journey, step by step. To be honest, I didn’t think when I first started out in the movement for democracy, that I would have to devote my whole life to it. […] But I’m not the only one who is in this position now. Many of my colleagues are working alone, without the support of family and friends. So I get tremendous courage from looking at them, how hard they struggle. And they are the unknown soliders of our cause. And the unknown soldiers are far braver and far worthier than people like me who are known to the world.
Suu Kyi’s appearance was part of the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) annual meeting, which convenes global leaders from both the public and private sectors to address the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Initiative members have made more than 2,000 commitments, which, according to the CGI, have improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. Member commitments, when fully funded and implemented, will be valued at over $63 billion.