Nobel Peace Prize Winner Suu Kyi Travels To Thailand

May 30, 2012
Originally published on May 30, 2012 6:41 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is in Thailand today. It's her first trip outside her homeland of Myanmar, or Burma, in more than 20 years. But as Michael Sullivan reports, her first speech was to a familiar crowd.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI: (Foreign language spoken)

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MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Aung San Suu Kyi wowed her audience in her first speech abroad this century, but it was an audience that adores her anyway - migrants from Myanmar working here in Thailand, many of whom send money back home to help their families survive. She promised she would do all she could to help them and to help Myanmar develop after the unprecedented reform process that that began 18 months ago, reforms that convinced her to seek and win a seat in parliament in April.

And many in the crowd said the pace of reforms - and Suu Kyi's decision to participate in the political process - had them thinking about returning home a lot sooner than they had expected. Convincing economic migrants is one thing, convincing political exiles to return is another. Suu Kyi will have a chance at the latter when she travels later this week to a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Many in the camps have fled fighting between Myanmar's military and ethnic militias demanding greater autonomy from the central government. Myanmar's new military-backed government has signed peace agreements with some, but not all of those groups in the past few months.

For NPR News, I'm Michael Sullivan in Bangkok.

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