Tutu meets Suu Kyi, political prisoners

2013-02-26 14:02
Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Aung San Suu Kyi after their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon, Myanmar.  (Soe Than Win, AFP)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Aung San Suu Kyi after their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon, Myanmar. (Soe Than Win, AFP)

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Yangon - Archbishop Desmond Tutu met fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday during a visit to Myanmar that also included talks with dissidents imprisoned by the former junta.

The Nobel laureates met behind closed doors at Suu Kyi's lakeside mansion in Yangon where the Myanmar activist was locked up for years during her more than two-decade struggle for democracy, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

An official from Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) said the veteran campaigner had returned from duties in the capital Naypyidaw especially to meet Tutu, who arrived in the country on Monday.

He did not reveal details of their discussion.

Earlier Tutu met political prisoners held under the previous military regime, which was replaced in 2011 by a quasi-civilian government that has enacted sweeping changes including the release of hundreds of jailed activists.

"He asked what we thought of the Myanmar reform process," former imprisoned dissident Toe Kyaw Hlaing told AFP.

"He also wanted us to pass on his regards and respect to those political prisoners who he was unable to meet today, and to those still in jail," he said, adding that his group estimates over 200 political inmates remain behind bars.

Tutu, who won the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the fight against apartheid, was a fervent supporter of Suu Kyi's struggle for democracy during her long years of house arrest.

In September 2011, almost a year after she was released, 81-year-old Tutu flamboyantly declared "I love you!" to the Myanmar activist in a video link talk.

At the time Tutu said he would visit Myanmar when Suu Kyi was "inaugurated as the head of government".

Since then Suu Kyi has entered parliament alongside dozens of members of her once-ostracised party after historic by-elections in April 2012, seen as a crucial step in Myanmar's reforms.

Suu Kyi, known as "the Lady" in her home country, also embarked on several foreign trips last year in a sign of her confidence in the changes in Myanmar.

The opposition leader travelled to Norway in June to finally give her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991.

She was unable to collect it in person for 21 years because of fears Myanmar's generals would not let her return to her country.

Tutu is set to give a speech at the American Centre in Yangon on Wednesday, according to a US embassy source.

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