Aung San Suu Kyi spoke to about 5,000 Burmese natives in the heart of the US on Tuesday in Fort Wayne, Ind., midway through her 17-day US tour. She delivered her speech in Burmese, which was translated into English via video.
Her message was more personal, voicing hope for Burma’s national reconciliation after decades of brutal repression at the hands of successive military regimes.
“The important thing is to learn how to resolve problems. How to face them and how to find the right answers through discussion and debate,” she told the gathering, which represents one of the largest Burmese communities in the country.
“The differences and problems we have amongst ourselves, I think we can join hands and reconcile and move forward and solve any problems,” she said, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
“I would appreciate and be very grateful if you could look back to your home country, which is Burma,” she said.
Burma’s President Thein Sein, who is visiting New York this week, has introduced political and economic reforms in recent years, and the US is considering easing its remaining sanctions, a ban on imports.
Suu Kyi, who met with President Barack Obama last week and received Congress’ highest civilian honor, said the sanctions were effective in pushing the junta to reform but that “they should now be lifted” so Burma can rebuild its economy.
“We cannot only depend on external support and support of our friends from other nations. We should also depend on ourselves to reach this goal,” she said.
“I would like to ask everyone to be united,” she said, according to local newspapers reports. “I also want to say to you not to be jealous, not to have envy. We need to control our feelings of envy and jealousy, so that we can unite, join hands, and work towards our goals.”
She spoke often of ethnic issues. Allowing the traditional languages and cultures to flourish should be a part of Burma’s future, Suu Kyi said.
“I do believe that every ethnic language should be taught in all the different ethnic places or in all the different indigenous provinces and regions,” she said. “We should maintain our heritage and language.”