U2 join forces with Amnesty to give Aung San Suu Kyi prestigious award

Burmese leader named Amnesty International’s ‘Ambassador of Conscience’

Amnesty International today gave Aung San Suu Kyi is most prestigious honour – the “Ambassador of Conscience” Award for 2009.

This year’s award will be officially announced in Dublin later today by Amnesty International and the Irish rock band U2, previous recipients of the award and long-time supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“This month marks the 20th anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest and 20 years since Amnesty International declared her a prisoner of conscience. In those long and often dark years Aung San Suu Kyi has remained a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights, not only to the people of Burma but to people around the world.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureate 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.”

Background:

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 Nelson Mandela and Mary Robinson.

The Award – inspired by a poem written for Amnesty International by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney – aims to promote the work of the organisation 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.

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