21 June 2012
Aung San Suu Kyi
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Pamela Gillies met with the Nobel Laureate and political leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday, 21 June.
During the meeting, the Principal formally handed over an invitation from the Lord Provost of Glasgow inviting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Glasgow and accept the Freedom of the City.
As a trustee of the British Council, Professor Gillies met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as part of a British Council delegation at a Foreign and Commonwealth Office reception hosted by the Foreign Secretary William Hague. The event was part of a four-day UK visit by Suu Kyi, during which she addressed both Houses of Parliament.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gained global recognition as one of the world's most prominent political prisoners, spending 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. During her detention, she was awarded the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in 2007, but was unable to formally accept the award. This award was also granted to the world’s most celebrated political prisoner, Nelson Mandela.
Professor Gillies said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have had the chance to meet this extraordinary woman. Like many others, I have been struck by her dignified resistance during her house arrest, as well as the humility and leadership she displayed during her ongoing tour of Europe. I was also delighted to have had the opportunity, on behalf of Glasgow’s Lord Provost, to deliver an invitation to collect her long-delayed Freedom of the City Award in person. I am certain I am not alone in hoping that Glasgow will be able to welcome her soon.”
Glasgow Lord Provost, Councillor Sadie Docherty, added: “I am very pleased Professor Gillies was able to hand over our invitation to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in person. The Freedom of the City of Glasgow is the highest award that our city can bestow and the courage she showed during her house arrest is more than deserving of this honour. I hope she can come to Glasgow so we can express our admiration for her achievements and give our support for her continuing efforts to reform her country.”
Professor Gillies also relayed greetings to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from Professor Muhammad Yunus who, in partnership with the University, has pledged his support in bringing the Social Business movement to the people of Burma.
Professor Gillies’ meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi builds on an existing relationship that GCU has with the people of Burma. GCU currently has 17 students from Burma, including 10 enrolled in the MSc Diabetes Care and Management course in its School of Health and Life Sciences. Other courses the students are studying include the MSc Pharmacology, the MSc in Financial Services Risk & Operation.
One of the GCU students from Burma, studying MSc Diabetes Care and Management, May Po Po Chit said: “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the reasons I am proud to be a Burmese Citizen. She is a great figure who has been an inspiration for our people. I think that with her leadership Burma can not only move towards democracy, but improve living standards as well. I hope that she will able to visit Glasgow one day, a city filled with friendly people that have made me feel welcome.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at GCU. As our country develops, I would also like to see developments in universities in Burma so that more students can enjoy similar opportunities.”
Another student studying MSc Diabetes Care and Management, Myo Min Aung added: “I have really enjoyed my time at GCU and I’ve appreciated the warmth and support from both academic and non-academic staff. There have been challenges in studying here, but overcoming cultural barriers has been part of the value of studying abroad. I came to GCU enhance the skills I had after graduating in medicine and the multi-disciplinary approach of my course means I have definitely been able to do that. I would certainly recommend GCU to any other prospective international student thinking about studying in the UK.”
Image courtesy of the Burma Campaign UK