Call it the second lap of Aung San Suu Kyi’s worldwide tour to gather laurels as one of most prominent democracy defenders in recent times.
Her extraordinary personal journey – already enshrined in films and books and perhaps far from over – has captured the world’s attention, and her walk on the US stage this month will call forth even more tributes – while giving her a chance to repay a debt for US support over the decades during her house arrest, and it's relentless pressure on the former military junta to relinquish power and embark on its current path to democracy.
That it happened so suddenly has been a source of surprise and wonder throughout the world, and it has also called forth tributes to the former junta general, President Thein Sein, who now leads the country’s parliamentary government as a civilian.
Thein Sein is scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly in New York City at the end of September, and he may also meet with government officials in Washington, according to reports.
Meanwhile, US dignitaries and other officials are lining up to be a part of the tributes to Burma’s democracy heroine.
First off, Suu Kyi will pick up the US Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian award of the US Congress – at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The award will be presented in the Rotunda of the US Capitol building.
She will also reportedly be feted at the White House in a dinner attended by top US officials and celebrities including former US Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well as Microsoft chief Bill Gates, according to reports. Such an occasion is usually reserved for heads of state and special dignitaries.
While in the capital, she is also due to receive several other awards and scheduled to address prestigious think-tank meetings, including the Asia Society and the US Institute of Peace in Washington on Tuesday. She will also speak with the local Burmese community.
On Thursday, she will attend a ceremony at the National Endowment for Democracy that will also honour five leading Burmese activists including Min Ko Naing, a key leader of both the 1988 student movement and the 2007 Saffron Revolution; Hkun Htun Oo, the chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy; Kyaw Thu, a prominent film director and actor-turned-activist who heads one of the country’s most important civil society organizations, the Free Funeral Service Society; Dr. Cynthia Maung, an ethnic Karen doctor; and Aung Din, a leader of the 1988 student movement and co-founder and executive director of the US Campaign for Burma.
On Sept. 21, in New York, she will receive the Global Citizen Awards from the Atlantic Council, a prominent think-tank, and she will reportedly open the US Stock Exchange and meet with the Burmese community.
She will reportedly also speak at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
On Sept. 25, she will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she will meet with the Burmese community. The area has one of the highest concentrations of Burmese natives in the US. Her speech in Burmese will be simultaneously translated into English, said local officials.
On Sept. 29, she will speak at a university in San Francisco. The bay area has the largest concentration of Burmese natives in the US, numbering nearly 9,000 residents, according to the latest census.
On Oct. 2, Suu Kyi will speak to the Burmese community in Los Angeles, prior to returning to Burma.