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UPDATE: Suu Kyi Enchants Europe & Coca-Cola

Updated On: Jun 15, 2012

This past Saturday Daw Suu Kyi belatedly accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1991. Suu Kyi was unable to accept the award at the time because she was under house arrest. She originally returned to Myanmar from her home in England to take care of her ailing mother, leaving behind her husband and two young children. Throughout the duration of her 15 years of house arrest, Ms. Suu Kyi was separated from her family and only saw her husband 5 times in a 10 year period. Her late husband, Michael Aris, died of prostrate cancer in 1999, after being denied a visa to enter the country. Suu Kyi had not seen her husband since 1995, but did not leave the country for fear she would not be let back in. 

Kim and his older brother Alexander, 14 and 18 at the time, respectivaly,  accepted the Nobel Prize with their father on Suu Kyi's behalf in 1991. Suu Kyi's youngest son, Kim Aris, was present at the ceremony this past Saturday.

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In her first visit to Europe in almost 25 years, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was met with applause and standing ovations during her speech at the United Nations' International Labor Organization in Geneva on Thursday. Geneva is Suu Kyi's first stop on a 17-day European tour to 5 countries.

Daw Suu Kyi's trip carries personal and historical significance. In Norway today, Suu Kyi will belatedly accept the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to
her 21 years ago. In her travels to Ireland, Britain and France next
week, she will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University,
will meet the new French president, François Hollande, and will take
time off to celebrate her 67th birthday with her family.

Ms. Suu Kyi has used the publicity of her travels to bring attention to the
pressing economic and political needs of her country, calling on the
West to invest in infrastructure, the tourism industry, and financial
services to help achieve "democracy-friendly development growth" for
Myanmar.

After initial tensions with her government following her trip to Thailand last week, Daw Suu Kyi has remained conciliatory but firm in expressing her political concerns. She has warned companies to be "cautiously optimist" about growth in Myanmar, citing the need for
greater transparency and accountability in government with respect to
business practices.

In a symbolic move, the US-based Coca-Cola Company announced that they will start selling their products to Myanmar after 60 years of US sanctions. Until Thursday, Myanmar was only one of three countries Coca-Cola didn't operate in - alongside Cuba and North
Korea. The company also pledged US$3 million toward job creation for
women in the country. Many European countries followed suit by lifting
decades-old sanctions on Myanmar.

These economic reforms have raised hope for potential growth in the country, which has rich reserves of natural resources, including gas and oil. While economic and
political reforms are underway, concerns over social stability remain in
light of recent eruptions of religious violence in Northern Myanmar.

Report: A Burmese Leader's Triumphant Return to Europe (June 14, 2012, The New York Times).

Report: Coke to Enter Myanmar for First Time in 60 Years. (June 15, 2012, The Jakarta Post).

Report: Suu Kyi Visits Europe for First Time in 24 years (June 13, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek)