Prisoner of conscience becomes Ambassador of Conscience

On Monday, I was privileged to be present as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi took to the stage of the Electric Burma concert in Dublin to accept Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke of the commitment she had made to the cause of human rights and freedom almost a quarter of a century ago.

“To receive this award is to remind me that 24 years ago, I took on duties from which I have never been relieved,” she said.

The former prisoner of conscience thanked Amnesty members for their support for her and her people in their search for freedom and human rights.

“You have shown me that I shall never be alone as I go about my discharge of these duties.”

“Amnesty International…has helped us to keep our small wick of self-respect alive, you have helped us to keep the light and we hope that you will be with us in the years to come, that you will be able to join us in our dreams, and not take either your eyes or your mind off us, and that you will help us to be the country where hope and history merges.”

Outside she spoke to the five thousand strong crowd which had gathered for an open-air celebration of her visit.

“This will be one of the unforgettable days of my life. I have been welcomed to Ireland as though I belong to you”.

“You have stood by us in our times of trouble. These troubles are not yet all over and I am confident that you will continue to stand with us.”

Amid the celebration, we were all conscious that much work remains to be done in Burma, that violence and repression continue and that hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars (take action here to free the remaining prisoners of conscience).

Yet, for all that, the day was a moment for celebration, for taking time to rejoice as the prisoner of conscience became an Ambassador of Conscience.