Suu Kyi’s cousin, Dr Sein Win, the Prime Minister of the exiled Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, will attend the graduation ceremony on her behalf.
He will accept the honorary doctoral degree – Doctor Litterarum et Pholosophiae (honoris causa) – on behalf of the Noble Peace Laureate and one of the world’s most renowned human rights advocates.
UJ’s faculty of humanities
is conferring the honorary doctoral degree on Suu Kyi in acknowledgement of her revolutionary journey to bring democratic change to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy. The military in her country placed her under house arrest in 1989. It offered to free her if she agreed to leave the country. She refused and demanded a return to civilian government and the release of political prisoners. Suu Kyi spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest.
“In her spirited but peaceful resistance to tyranny, she has given hope to millions of oppressed Burmese people and others suffering similar hardship elsewhere in the world,” said UJ executive dean Prof Rory Ryan.
Although Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to victory in the 1990 elections, the military junta that led the government refused to recognise the results.
The junta later changed the nation’s name to Myanmar, but many democracy supporters, including Suu Kyi, still refer to it as Burma.
“Aung San Suu Kyi powerfully represents the guiding principle of the University of Johannesburg.
“Its respect for diversity and human dignity, its call for democratic freedom and the accountability and the emphasis it has placed on providing access to people formerly denied the benefits of higher education,” said Ryan.
Founder of the Free Burma Campaign in SA, Kiru Naidoo, will be delivering the keynote address entitled Dilemmas in SA’s relation to Burma.