On stage in Dublin tonight, Bono announced that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is to be awarded Amnesty International's most prestigious honour - the 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award for 2009.
'As powerful a voice and as strong a leader in these times, as Dr. King and Nelson Mandela were in theirs... is Aung San Suu Kyi. 'She has been under house arrest in her native Burma for most of the last 20 years. Her crime is that if she was to participate in elections she would win. 'This week, the brutal force that has her incarcerated will decide in a mock trial if she will spend the next 5 years in a prison. 'We are proud to announce tonight...on the 27th of July in Dublin...that Amnesty International have chosen Aung San Suu Kyi as the recipient of their Ambassador of Conscience Award 2009. Thank God for Amnesty International. May God keep Aung Sang Suu Kyi safe.'
On the twentieth anniversary of her arrest, Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty, said she remained ' a symbol of hope, courage and undying defense of human rights, not only to the people of Myanamar but to people around the world.'
The leader of the Myanmar opposition party the National League for Democracy, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained for over 13 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest. Her house detention order was set to expire on 27 May 2009, but she was arrested and placed on trial on 18 May. Over 2,100 other people are currently imprisoned in Myanmar for their political beliefs and should be freed. Every night on the 360 tour, U2 are throwing a spotlight on her plight during 'Walk On', a track written for her in 2001.
Vaclav Havel, who received the inaugural 'Ambassador of Conscience Award' in 2003, joined in the congratulations: 'I know from my own experience that international attention can, to a certain extent, protect the unjustly persecuted from punishments that would otherwise be imposed. That is why, shortly after I was elected President, I nominated Mrs Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize, which she did subsequently receive. Goodness knows what would have happened if her fate had not been highlighted as it is again today. I welcome Amnesty's decision and am delighted at the solidarity, that U2 and all of you are showing towards this courageous woman - the Ambassador of Conscience of each one of us.'
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's trial for violating the terms and conditions of her house arrest resumed on 24 July. If convicted she could face up to five years in jail. The Ambassador of Conscience Award, now in its sixth year, recognises exceptional leadership and witness in the fight to protect and promote human rights. Past winners of the award include Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela and Mary Robinson. Inspired by a poem written for Amnesty International by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, the award aims to promote the work of the organization by association with the life, work and example of its 'Ambassadors', who have done much to inspire the world through their work and personal example.
Add your own support to the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanamar's Political Prisoners here.