New Delhi: Returning after a gap of 25 years, Aung San Suu Kyi today said she was saddened that India was drawn away from Myanmar in its “most difficult days” and hoped it will stand by her country in achieving democracy.
“I was saddened to feel that we were drawn away from India, or rather India was drawn away from us during our most difficult days,” Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate and Myanmar’s opposition leader, said delivering the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture here.
The National League for Democracy leader, who was under house arrest for over 21 years, was referring to the period when India established diplomatic relations with the military junta in the 1990s. India had initially supported the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar.
67-year-old Suu Kyi, whose father General Aung San — regarded as Myanmar’s independence hero — was a personal friend of Nehru, last visited India in 1987 when she travelled to Shimla to join her husband Michael Aris, who was studying in the hill station.
Suu Kyi said Myanmar had not yet achieved the goal of democracy.
“We are trying and we hope that in this last battle, the people of India will stand by us and walk by the path they were able to proceed many years before,” said Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi said she always has faith in the lasting friendship of India and Myanmar which was based on love and kinship between the people of the two countries. “Governments come and go and that is what democracy is all about. But, people remain and as long as our people remain bound in understanding and mutual respect, the friendship between our two countries will last far into the future,” she said.
In her 30-minute speech, Suu Kyi expressed her deep appreciation for the leaders of India, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru, for their “precious friendship”. “It was their life that helped me to find my way through the uncharted terrain,” she said referring to the trials and tribulations she had to face in the struggle for democracy in Myanmar.
Earlier, Congress President Sonia Gandhi hailed Suu Kyi as the “most remarkable figures of our times” and described her visit to India as “something of a homecoming”.
Suu Kyi spent her formative years in India studying at the Convent of Jesus and Mary and later graduating from the Lady Shri Ram College.
When she delivered the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture at the Vigyan Bhawan, present in the audience were her teachers and students from the school and college she studied at.
On a personal level, Gandhi said she was delighted to renew the links with Suu Kyi that go back to two generations. Suu Kyi’s father General Aung San was a personal friend of Nehru.
India had honoured Suu Kyi with the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1993 while she was under house arrest under the military government in Myanmar.
During the day, Suu Kyi discussed the process of democratisation in Myanmar with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She also offered tributes at Rajghat and Shanti Van the memorials to Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru respectively.