Washington: Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded with Americans not to take democracy for granted.
“You must vote. You must use your democratic rights. Otherwise, they will fade away,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said to a Queens College crowd in America.
Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest for bucking her country’s military government, moved the Queens College crowd with her inspiring story of fighting for freedom at any cost.
According to the New York Daily News, Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the National League of Democracy in Myanmar, pleaded the audience, which included singer Carole King and actress Anjelica Huston, to vote in the November U.S. presidential election.
“Don’t take it for granted,” Suu Kyi said, but stopped short of endorsing President Barack Obama or his GOP rival Mitt Romney.
“You must vote. You must use your democratic rights. Otherwise, they will fade away,” she added.
Kyi said she endured her loss of freedom by practicing meditation, exercising and reading in the small bungalow with iron bars she jokingly described as “a five-star residence, by Burmese prison standards.”
She refused deals to withdraw from politics and leave the country in exchange for her freedom, even while separated from a husband dying of cancer.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Chelsea) thanked Kyi, who was presented the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday in Washington, for being an inspiration to all New Yorkers.
“It gives all of us strength and courage. It reminds all of us that faith and perseverance are always rewarded,” Quinn said.