Aung San Suu Kyi to receive freedom of Newcastle

Aung San Suu Kyi walks with friends and family in Yangon Aung San Suu Kyi walks with friends and family in Yangon

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Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been awarded the freedom of the city of Newcastle.

The long-time campaigner for civil rights and freedom of speech in Burma has spent most of the past 20 years under house arrest.

The Nobel prize-winner was freed last November but was not able to pick up the award in person as she is not allowed to leave the country.

Wai Hnin, from the Burma Campaign, collected it on her behalf.

Speaking at the official ceremony at the Civic Centre, Wai Hnin said: "Suu Kyi is a symbol of freedom. She is not only Burma's leader - she is our mother.

"If Suu Kyi could come here she would say to people in the UK in general, and Newcastle in particular, 'Please use your freedom to campaign for democracy and human rights in Burma'."

Her name will be engraved on the walls of the Banqueting Hall alongside those of Cardinal Basil Hume, 201 (Northern) General Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers) and St John's Ambulance.

International humanitarians including Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldof and Andrei Sakharov have also received the city's highest honour.

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