Suu Kyi tells Australian audience, value and protect democracy

Nov. 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM
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MELBOURNE, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told an audience at an Australian university Saturday to value their country's democracy.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, formerly Burma, told the audience at Monash University in Melbourne they should "learn to value what you have."

"Because you have these tremendous advantages, I would like you to look to countries like ours that are just starting out on the road that you take for granted," Suu Kyi said. "You think democracy is there for you, that you're entitled to democracy, but entitlement is a perception. There is no such thing as absolute entitlement. You have already got much more than some of us could ever dream of achieving in our lifetime ... we need your help and support."

Suu Kyi, 68, has faced some protests from Australia's population of Kachins, Muslims native to Myanmar who have been critical of her for failing to speak out against Muslim oppression in the country, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Suu Kyi lived for years under house arrest after her caravan was attacked and four supporters were killed.

She said that experience has tempered her views on relations between rival ethnic or religious groups.

"I've found that condemnation of one community increases fears and drives people to extremism," she said. ''Everybody is afraid when violence breaks out all too often. The first step that has to be taken is to establish the rule of law. If people feel under threat, they cannot be expected to sit down and work out a solution to their differences."

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