Burma's democratic heroine named honorary Canadian
Parliament on Wednesday unanimously passed a motion to designate Burma's democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi, an honorary Canadian citizen.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented the motion in the House of Commons, calling her a "symbol of the desire of the Burmese people for political freedom."
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been held under house arrest in Burma — also known as Myanmar — for the past 18 years by the military junta governing the impoverished southeast Asian country.
"All Canadians know that what is happening in Burma is an attack on the values we hold dear … and an attack on the values of civilization itself," Harper said, following a standing ovation.
Peaceful anti-government demonstrations in Burma, which were led by the country's revered monks over the last few weeks, were met with violent force from soldiers and riot police.
Pictures and video footage from the country showed monks and protesters being beaten in the streets as part of an effort to crush dissent.
According to the military junta, several demonstrators were also gunned down, and state-controlled media said the countrywas holding 500 demonstrators in prison.
In the midst of the humanitarian crisis and in spite of being confined to house arrest since 1989, Harper said Suu Kyi has shone as "the embodiment of [democratic] ideals and an inspiration for all of us."
"More than anyone else, she has focused international attention on the plight of her people. This is why we are bestowing honourary citizenship on Aung San Suu Kyi," Harper said.
Larry Bagnell, the Liberal MP for the Yukon Territory, recognized Suu Kyi for her "courage to sacrifice her life in order to give life to an entire nation."
Other foreigners who have been granted honorary Canadian citizenship include the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.