Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi tells Harvard students: I'm no icon

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 27, 2012 9:03 PM
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi tells Harvard students: I'm no icon

By Ros Krasny

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Myanmar pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi got celebrity treatment from students at Harvard University on Thursday, but insisted she was not an "icon."

"I don't like to be referred to as an icon, because from my point of view, icons just sit there," Suu Kyi said during a lecture before an enthusiastic, overflow crowd at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"I would like you to think of me as a worker. I put a lot of faith in hard work. Even under house arrest, I had to work very hard to live a disciplined life. It was hard work. ... Please look upon me as a hard worker."

Suu Kyi is on a 17-day tour of the United States that included a meeting with President Barack Obama, the receipt of a U.S. Congressional Gold Medal to recognize her efforts to promote freedom and democracy, and visits with Myanmar expatriates.

She has spoken on several college campuses, where her celebrity, forged by years as one of the world's most prominent political prisoners, has attracted excited crowds.

Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize came in 1991, while she was under house arrest in Myanmar, enforced by a military dictatorship. The country is also known as Burma.

Elected in April 2012 to the lower house of the Myanmar parliament, Suu Kyi said she was surprised at suggestions she only now had to learn the art of politics.

"I have always seen myself as a politician. What do they think I have been doing for the past 24 years?" she said.

In her lecture, the leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy Party said the Southeast Asian nation had a long way to go to become a free society.

"The best way to be a truly responsible citizen in a free society is to act as though you were already a free citizen in a free society," Suu Kyi said.

(Reporting By Ros Krasny; Editing by Peter Cooney)