Suu Kyi visits Europe for first time in 24 years

By Frank Jordans

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 11:38 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this July 14, 1995 file photo, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is surrounded by bodyguards and aides in the garden of her house during a press conference following her release earlier in the week after six years under house arrest, Rangoon, Burma, Friday, July 14, 1995. Twenty-four years ago Aung San Suu Kyi left Europe for what was then a military-controlled nation called Burma. She returns Wednesday, June 13, 2012 the icon of Myanmar's democracy movement to a continent eager to hear from her whether the country's recent reforms truly spell the end of its cruel dictatorship.(AP Photo/Anat Givon, File)

Associated Press

GENEVA — Twenty-four years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi left Europe for what was then a military-controlled nation called Burma. She returned Wednesday the icon of Myanmar's democracy movement to a continent eager to hear from her whether the country's recent reforms truly spell the end of its cruel dictatorship.

The trip is seen as a sign of gratitude to those governments and organizations that supported Suu Kyi's peaceful struggle against Myanmar's generals over more than two decades, 15 years of which she spent under house arrest.

Dressed in blue and wearing three white roses in her hair, Suu Kyi smiled and waved as she stepped out of the plane that landed in Geneva late Wednesday. She greeted local officials who received her on the tarmac amid tight security, before being taken by limousine to a nearby hotel for the night.

On Thursday, she will visit the U.N.'s European headquarters to address the annual meeting of the International Labor Organization, whose campaign against slavery and child labor in Myanmar drew constant attention to the junta's abusive exploitation of its people. The ILO decided Wednesday to reward Myanmar for reforms undertaken so far.

From Switzerland Suu Kyi flies to Oslo, where on Saturday she will make a belated acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to her 21 years earlier while she was detained by the military after leading a pro-democracy party to victory in Myanmar's 1990 elections.

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