Aung San Suu Kyi to present the BBC's Reith Lectures

Aung San Suu Kyi Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver two of the 2011 Reith Lectures, along with former MI5 Director-General Baroness Manningham-Buller, who will give three more

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, will deliver the 2011 BBC Reith Lectures.

Her two lectures will discuss the themes of dissent and liberty and will be broadcast on BBC Radio from 28 June.

The lectures are part of a wider series, entitled 'Securing Freedom', reflecting on global events of the past year.

Former MI5 Director-General Baroness Manningham-Buller will present three further lectures in September.

Aung San Suu Kyi said: "When I was under house arrest, it was the BBC that spoke to me - I listened.

"I am so grateful for this opportunity to exercise my right to human contact by sharing with you my thoughts on what freedom means to me, and others across the world who are still in the sad state of what I would call 'unfreedom'."

BBC Radio 4 Controller Gwyneth Williams said "I am thrilled to have as our 2011 Reith lecturers Aung San Suu Kyi, addressing the themes of dissent and liberty, and Eliza Manningham-Buller who, on the tenth anniversary, will reflect on intelligence and foreign policy since 9/11.

Start Quote

Baroness Manningham-Buller

I am honoured to share this year's Reith Lectures with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose selfless courage on behalf of Burma's freedom should remind us not to take our own freedoms for granted”

End Quote Eliza Manningham-Buller Former head of MI5

"These are two very different sides of a familiar story - the struggle for liberty and its defence."

Aung San Suu Kyi's first lecture will examine the notion of dissent, and will draw on her personal experience as a campaigner for democracy.

In 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the Burmese election by a landslide. She then spent 15 of the next 20 years under house arrest, and was finally released on November 13, 2010.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner's second lecture will explore the notion of democracy, and the responsibility of the international community towards authoritarian regimes, with reference to recent events in the Middle East.

Normally the Reith Lectures are delivered in person in front of a live audience, but due to the exceptional circumstances, Aung San Suu Kyi's lectures were recorded in Burma this week.

Writing on the Radio 4 blog, controller Gwyneth Williams said it had been a "tense" few days while a BBC team secretly made its way into Burma to record with Ms Suu Kyi, before smuggling the material out for broadcast.

The lectures will be played to public audiences at two events to be held at BBC Broadcasting House in London on 20 and 27 June.

The second phase of this year's Reith Lectures will be broadcast in September 2011 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC.


  • The Reith Lectures were created as a "stimulus to thought and contribution to knowledge", and were named in honour of the BBC's first Director-General, Lord Reith.
  • The inaugural lectures were given by the philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell in 1948
  • Past Reith lecturers have included the "father of the atomic bomb" Robert Oppenheimer; Canadian economist JK Galbraith; architect Sir Richard Rogers; and pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim

Eliza Manningham-Buller was director-general of MI5, the British security service, from October 2002 until her retirement in April 2007.

She led the organisation through substantial change in the wake of 9/11 and the growing threat from al-Qaeda.

Across three lectures she will assess the post-9/11 world, and will consider the role of security intelligence, reflecting on the threats to freedom and the means of countering them, as well as the implications for foreign policy.

Eliza Manningham-Buller said: "I am honoured to share this year's Reith Lecture series with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose selfless courage on behalf of Burma's freedom should remind us not to take our own freedoms for granted."

Aung San Suu Kyi's lectures will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service on Tuesday, 28 June and 5 July. Eliza Mannigham-Buller's lectures will be broadcast in September.

Tickets for the London events for Ms Suu Kyi's lectures will be available through BBC audience services.

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