'There is no one on this island who doesn’t understand how costly the word freedom is.  How difficult the word justice is to live by. How quixotic peace can be. After all your years of wide-open heartache in an enclosed space, your newly travelled road has brought you here to Dublin at a big old bun fight in your honour… and we love that.'

At Electric Burma at the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin this evening, Bono presented Aung San Suu Kyi with Amnesty International’s ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ Award. The award was originally announced from the stage when U2  played Croke Park in July 2009 - while the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize recipient was still under house arrest in Burma.

'The honour is ours just to be in your presence,'  said Bono in his speech. 'Everybody is here to sing for you tonight, but it’s your song that everyone wants to hear. It’s your song we need on the radio all over the world… your words… your topline melody. It’s a timeless song yet it seems more important in this time, than ever before…' 

Responding to the award Aung San Suu Kyi said that it was a reminder that 'Twenty four years ago I took on duties from which I shall never be delivered but you have given me the strength to carry on.' In Ireland she had discovered just how much people care: 'I had not expected this.'

'I feel very close to you. The British used to refer to the Burmese as the Irish of the East. We never quite understood why. Some say it was because we never gave them any peace, we were very rebellious and others say it was because our men like their drink and we are all rather superstitious.
For whatever reason tonight I  feel proud to be your Eastern counterpart - I am very happy to be the Irish of the East.

'Throughout these years, you and others like you, and Amnesty International and other organisations like AI have helped us to keep our small wick of self respect alight. You have helped to keep the light. And we hope that you will be with us in the years to come, that you will be able to join us in our dreams and not take either your eyes or your mind off us,  and that you will help us to be the country where hope and history merges.'

Irish and international artists from the worlds of music, drama, cinema and dance took part in  ‘Electric Burma’, a three hour show organised by Amnesty International. 

An audience of 2,000 saw Riverdance open the show followed by Donal Lunny leading a chant of Aung San Su Kyi's name. Music came from Damien Rice and Angelique Kidjo while actor Vanessa Redgrave read Seamus Heaney's  'The Republic of Conscience'.  Human right activists such as Wu’er Kaixi, the exiled leader of the Tiananmen Square protest,  reminded the audience of political prisoners across the world who remain behind bars. The set featured a wall of opened birdcages, referencing the lyrics to Walk On and Aung San Suu Kyi's  release from house arrest.

Read Bono's speech and Aung San Suu Kyi's response in full here.

Watch Bono's interview with RTE News.

From A Conspiracy of Hope in 1986 to a clandestine film trip to Burma in 2011, our  slideshow charts U2's long collaboration with Amnesty International and with Aung San Suu Kyi.

See also




20 July, 2012
Thank you; for leading me back home. Still don't know why we; i guess it was and still is that you'r e still my way. Hope to hug you soon. much Love Rose.
22 June, 2012
Keep the light
It was very touching to read the speeches of Bono and Aung San Suu Kyi. With the digital version of Aung San Suu Kyi U2 made all of us aware of an incredible woman who always deserves our deepest respect and help. Bono;s heartfelt words about his audience reveal the value of people raising their voices for justice and peace. Over the years U2 remarkably supported Amnesty International-an exceptional organisation that continues to fight for more humanity. Since the 360 Tour I have given donations to AI on a regular basis.
20 June, 2012
To BONO, U2, AI, all Artists and fans: I would like to say THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH for your long time support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and people of Buma.
19 June, 2012
Thanks from Japan!
Thanks for sharing the full transcript of speech. I was really moved to read the part he mentioned U2 audience! I translated the part into Japanese and put it on my Facebook. Bono is my politics teacher. He makes me keep interested in the world. I'll be his student from now on, and do whatever I can do for the better world.
19 June, 2012
Thank you for all what you do
That was so beautiful and perfect... I'm very very happy to see that. That means a lot and I'm just speechless, just listening :)
19 June, 2012
Now the bird is flying in freedom Walk on, walk on Stay safe in the future
18 June, 2012
Bono + Aung San Suu Kyi: a beautiful goa
I'm Italian but you made the most beautiful goal yesterday. Ireland and Burma are the winner! Thank you Bono and Aung San Suu Kyi for such an emotional night!
18 June, 2012
Beautiful people and words...we all want to be Irish and "Irish of the East" tonight! Walk on,
Miriam Jonker
18 June, 2012
Thank you
Thank you U2 for all your efforts on her behalf. Everybody: watch her acceptance speech, it's brilliant.
18 June, 2012
Thank you Bono
Thank you Bono for this amazing evening. Very very emotional. Finally with Aung San Suu Kyi Love Natasa
18 June, 2012
Thank you for sharing this moment...
My respect for her is beyond words.
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