Oxford University has confirmed that Burmese pro-democracy politician and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is to collect an honorary degree at the Encaenia ceremony on 20th June, during her first trip abroad in 24 years.
Suu Kyi was invited by Prime Minister David Cameron to visit her “beloved Oxford” when he travelled to Burma in April. In the joint press conference, responding to the PM’s invitation, Suu Kyi said, “Two years ago I would have said thank you for the invitation, but sorry. Now I am able to say ‘perhaps’ and that is great progress.”
A spokesperson for the University said, “The University offered Aung San Suu Kyi an honorary doctorate in civil law in 1993, an award which is yet to be conferred for obvious reasons. We look forward to doing so as soon as she is able to visit Oxford.”
Suu Kyi has been unable to travel abroad until now due to being under house arrest for 15 of the past 22 years, and the fear that if she left Burma the military government would prevent her from returning. She even stayed in Burma when her husband Michael Aris, who died in 1999, was terminally ill with cancer.
A spokesperson for Number 10 Downing Street, told Cherwell that the visit is “testament to the progress being made in Burma, and the efforts of President Sein.” They confirmed that Suu Kyi will visit from 18th June for a week and will address both Houses of Parliament.She will also collect her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on 16th June, which was received by her family on her behalf in 1991.
Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton said, ‘We are delighted that Daw Suu is finally able to return to the University and are looking forward greatly to what will be a very special occasion.’
Andrew Dilnot, Principal of St Hugh’s, where Suu Kyi studied PPE from 1964 to 1967 and is now an honorary fellow, told Cherwell, “We at St Hugh’s are delighted that the University expects to confer an honorary doctorate in civil law on Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the UK in June, and very excited by the prospect of welcoming her.”
Nora Godkin and Ebba Lekvall, co-Presidents of Oxford Burma Alliance, said, ‘It is our hope that [the visit of Daw Suu] will serve to make Oxford students, and the British general public, more interested in Burma issues.’