Highest award to Aung San Suu Kyi: US plan moves forward


Washington : The US Senate has introduced a bill to bestow detained Myanmar Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi with the highest civilian honour from the US Congress.

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In December, the other chamber, the House of Representatives, gave near unanimous approval to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader.

The Senate effort Wednesday was spearheaded by two senators – Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Mitch McConnell – guaranteeing it strong bipartisan support.

The US Campaign for Burma (Myanmar) said the measure was also supported by presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is a giant for human rights and democracy, and we hope this award will strengthen her efforts even further,” said Aung Din, director of the US-based campaign and a former political prisoner in Myanmar.

In 1990, Suu Kyi led her political party to a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, gaining 82 percent of the seats in parliament. But the junta refused to recognise the results, and cracked down on all political expression.

She has spent more than 12 of the past 17 years under house arrest.

The US Senate and House of Representatives have passed separate bills proposing tighter economic and financial sanctions on the military regime ruling the southeast Asian country.

But the versions must still be reconciled. The leading sponsor in the House, Representative Tom Lantos, died earlier this week, meaning there has been a pause for mourning amidst the negotiations, a campaign spokeswoman said.