tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN December 29, 2012 7:00am-8:00am EST
>> thank you. thank you to all my house colleagues were with us today. representative don manzullo and leader mcconnell, senator feinstein, john mccain. our thanks and appreciation to mrs. bush and madame secretary for taking time to be here today and the contributions to this effort and your commitment to advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in burma. i would be remiss if i did not mention someone who's not with us today, congressman tom lantos. tom, and his wife and staff, worked so hard on behalf of burma for so many years. i wish he were here to share this moment in history with us because i think today is an
amazing day. today is an incredible. who would have thought that when this bill was introduced in the house in 2008 when aung san suu kyi was under house arrest that in a few short years she would be standing or sitting with us on u.s. soil receiving this honor as a member of the burmese parliament. back then we thought about granting the metal and extension which may have been the first time a person would have received in the history of the metal the congressional gold medal while in detention. who would have imagined this change was possible. who would have thought that this could happen. let me tell you one who believed it could come true, aung san suu kyi herself. she might be too humble to admit it but i know she always thought
this moment would be possible, not because she worries about awards or honors. let me tell you she certainly does not. she believed it because she and the burmese people always believed change was possible. they hoped, as a new change must come to their country. she knew the burmese people, human rights and most importantly deserved democratic governance. shea stoked the flames in a peaceful way for a lasting change even among those already in a position of power. her efforts have helped lead us to where we are today. there has been a lot of advancement and debate in burma over the last two years and we must recognize and give thanks to all those who had the courage to lead and support the changes in burma including those in the
present government. we also must honor and remember those who made the great sacrifices, imprisonments, lives lost, to get to where we are today. too many paid too high a price in the effort to bring about freedom and democratic governance in burma. it is with those people in mind, those who have sacrificed so much, to acknowledge the work that is not done yet. we must insure that the momentum and folds into sustained progress, into a permanent freedom and democracy. as much as i would like to believe that change that has occurred is irreversible, as much as i would like to revel in wind optimism and believe the battle for freedom was won it is not yet.
the tides of progress can reverse just as easily as they flow if we do not remain vigilant and demand further progress. let there be no doubt today is the moment of joy for a apps who is enforced solitude and someone who has put country but for herself, someone who has inspired millions of others to stand up for a human-rights and justice, someone who has bitten by weeks to a movement, someone who has led with unwavering commitment. that person is aung san suu kyi and we are so very proud to stand here and honor you today. [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, representative from the sixteenth district of illinois, donald manzullo. >> mr. speaker, secretary clinton, mrs. bush, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my family. i come before you today to humble the welcome a legendary human rights champion, aung san suu kyi, for a ceremony many of us never thought would happen. surely foreign affairs subcommittee asia pacific, up when my friend joe crowley worked to pass the gold medal in
2008, aung san suu kyi was serving her thirteenth year under house arrest incarcerated for exercising freedom of speech and daring to challenge a military and the. your presence here is nothing short of a miracle. patriots succeed because of miracles. the sound of freedom can never be silenced. is a testament to the incredible strength of your convictions and the depth of your aspirations for burma to achieve democracy. you have made the time to visit us during this momentous visit. aung san suu kyi is someone who needs no introduction because there are no words to adequately describe the sacrifice this woman has in toward for 15 years. we know the incredible story of
her dedication and her love for her beloved homeland and people but underneath the public face there is a daughter, a mother, beloved companion who put everything she held deer on the line to fight injustice and oppression. there are no awards that replace the time lost or the pain in toward but this time lost was not and will not be in vain. we must follow the example set by aung san suu kyi and continue to fight against oppression wherever it rears its ugly head. we gather today to praise not only her accomplishments but to bring to light the in anguish and suffering of all those around the world who continue to indoor oppression. we must never forget the geopolitical decisions made in washington have a real and lasting impact on individuals
around the world. aung san suu kyi, on your landmark visit to the united states let me congratulate you on making a tremendous difference in burma and the rest of the world. you are a true inspiration for all of us. as leader of the opposition your responsibilities are significant but in my opinion there's nothing you cannot accomplish. when you address the subcommittee and asia pacific i was overcome with emotion by your resolved and spirit. you asked congress to support myanmar and her people and i am happy to report we have not. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the senator from california, the hon. dianne feinstein.
>> mr. speaker, nancy pelosi, mrs. bush, harry reid, leader mcconnell, secretary of state hillary clinton and my colleagues in government this is a special day to honor a special person in a special place. for many years i have followed tragedies and victories of this uncommonly courageous and persistent woman. in 1988 she quickly rose to be the voice of democracy in burma creating the lead for democracy, elections followed in 1990 when her party won 80% but that joy turned to tragedy and the the military junta and aung san suu
kyi spent 3 decades under house arrest unable to visit her dying husband. in 1996 i recall senator bill cohen approaching with senator mccain to sponsor a burma sanction bill, sanctions were put in place in 1997 and only loosened in july of this year. senator mcconnell became one of aung san suu kyi's chief advocates and we continue to work on behalf of the people of burma. in 2003 following an assassination attempt senator mcconnell and i worked to pass an important man the remains in place today, an effort to bring about further reform and i must say burma is extremely lucky to have a champion like aung san suu kyi. in the face of violence, intimidation, harassment, she has never wavered from her
principles or ceased her push for democracy and human rights. she celebrates the relief of political prisoners including approximately 90 released this week but she remains true to them to remain behind bars, a number estimated to be around 200. this woman sacrificed many years of her life to bring about these changes. she is truly an inspiration to the world. you are so well deserving of this congressional gold medal i can only begin to express my thrills and happiness that we are able to present this to you today in this special place, a very special woman. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the senator from the state of
arizona, the hon. john mccain. >> at my age i try to be realistic about how many more times i will be surprised by a wonderful turn of the events. i am not sure i expected that i would have the honor of welcoming my personal hero, aung san suu kyi to the united states, that you could travel abroad without fear of being barred from returning to the country she loves and served so well. i consider myself an unfortunate to have lived to see this day and to know the people of burma whose dignity and rights aung san suu kyi has sacrificed so much to defend and will one day be free to live with dignity and justice and hope. is a testament to the courage of
the burmese people and the person they call simply the lady that that day is approaching. i have known a few brave and inspiring people but none more so than the one and we honor today. i first met her fifteen years ago when she was permitted to leave her house briefly to speak with me at the residence in renton. i was not prepared for her. she was exquisitely polite and graceful. she spoke softly and calm we, the picture of gentleness and serenity. is this woman, i asked myself who has managed somehow to cause so much trouble for the powerful, violence, cool men to unlawfully rule her country, men who are so befuddled by the implacable resistance offered by
this one gentle lady attacked her, jailed her, isolated her, kept her family from her, they had done all that and all that could be done to break her spirit and her will to resist. as a union soldier once noted as he sat on his horse placidly while shells exploded around him, aung san suu kyi didn't scare worth a damn. it is not power that corrupts, she says, but fear. fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the surge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. aung san suu kyi would not be afraid and that is the most powerful resistance human beings are capable of.
[applause] >> i want to thank the united states congress for allowing me to add my voice to the global chorus of honors for aung san suu kyi and to send along the deep respect of my husband george as well. the transition in burma, or eastern europe, shows that history has a hopeful direction capable of miracles. there is a part of every soul but longs for freedom and any government built on oppression is built on sand. vast historical changes often begin in the single mind, a single heart and a hope that now grows in burma is a tribute. one of the most repressive governments on earth attempted
to isolate and silence 1-woman. it must have seemed an easy task. instead of the regime encountered and it immovable object and its legitimacy broke against her character. she became a symbol of courage, perseverance and defiance, a symbol that integrity was still possible in burma and the symbol became an inspiration for activists, monks and millions around the world. when her long isolation ended some of us finally met aung san suu kyi in person and found not a symbol but a woman, of tremendous humor, honesty and grace. that only increased our admiration. when political prisoners are freed and normal political life revised it is the start of new
tests. burma needed aung san suu kyi's courage and patience. now it needs for wisdom and leadership in a work of reform and reconciliation. her contribution to burma is decades old and just beginning. today our country on ears and exceptional woman who became the mother of her country and we pledge our support in the work ahead. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the democratic leader of the united states house of representatives, the hon. nancy pelosi. >> it is a historic opportunity
to be here today with aung san suu kyi as she is awarded the congressional gold medal, the highest honor congress can be so. i join my colleagues including the leader of this effort in the house, congressman crowley in thanking aung san suu kyi for her unwavering commitment to peace, nonviolence and democracy in burma. i associate myself with his remarks and praise of our former colleague and his family's efforts on behalf of this occasion today. it is appropriate to honor today to honor the many burmese democracy supporters in california, senator feinstein, we take this opportunity to remember those who have suffered so much including the burmese students, national league of democracy party members and other supporters who fought for
democracy in 1988. members of the burmese parliament in exile who have worked tirelessly from abroad. buddhist monks courageously rose up in a saffron revolution in 2007 and the ethnic minorities who have been poured so much poverty and conflict. today as we be so the congressional gold medal on aung san suu kyi we honors them all with this ceremony in the rotunda of the united states capitol. it doesn't seem so long ago and it wasn't, that women leaders and members of congress gathered to honor aung san suu kyi on her 50th birth day. she could not be with us that they but madeleine albright was, secretary of state, and she is with us today and we are so honored. we agreed to that day as we
saying happy birthday so loudly we thought you could hear us and it was important that you know how well we wish you but we also wanted to -- let the people in burma to know how strongly we felt about you as well as how hard we are willing to fight for you. i know that i consent i speak for all here today when i say that our hearts are full of joy to celebrate aung san suu kyi in her presence. her presence today is remarkable. when we pass the gold medal legislation in 2008, it was thought maybe it would be given in absentia but aung san suu kyi knew better. she knew if we waited a bit we
could celebrate in this way. it is a symbol of the progress in burma and the bond between her and united states. within 15 years ago she said to the world please use your liberty to promote hours. with sanctions and boycotts, rallies and legislation and direct dialogue and engagement, you did. the obama administration and secretary clinton are to be commended for their policy engagement that has produced real progress on the long road toward democracy. an honor for us, a great honor it is for us that mrs. bush is here. the united states has stood and stand with the freedom speaking people of burma in there just cause. i am proud to say northern california is home to the largest burmese population in
the nation. we are not competitive around here. san francisco has been a leader in promoting burma and supporting aung san suu kyi. buddhism and its non-violent tradition has been a source of strength for that democracy movement in burma. aung san suu kyi has seen her supporters beaten, tortured and killed. she has never responded with hatred and violence. she has asked only for peaceful dialogue and progress toward democracy. she has always believed the need for democracy for all the people of burma was more important than her personal needs. she made great personal sacrifices in terms of her own family as dianne feinstein pointed out.
one admirer described her as a sole pilgrim, one who makes her life a vehicle for an awakening to deeper and greater truth. aung san suu kyi walks in the steps of her beloved father and the giants of history. for her personal sacrifice, her inner strength, her love of burma and its people and for being an example of strength and courage to world, today we are proud to honor her with the congressional gold medal, the highest medal congress can be so. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the republican leader of the united states senate, the hon. mitch
mcconnell. [applause] >> over the years, we recognized many remarkable men and women in this place of honor. all of them extraordinary. it would be foolish to make comparisons among them. for me at least, today's ceremony was particularly meaningful. i first came to know the woman we honor today two decades ago. and told the story of her struggle. and to make that cause -- it was impossible not to be moved by her quiet resolve, her hidden,
luminous heroism and it is impossible today all these years later not to be moved by the fatah that this most unlikely of revolutionaries may yet witness the deepest longings of her heart. representative, democratic system in which the people of burma are able to fully enjoy their god-given rights. it is in this hope that we stand today with the people of burma and with aung san suu kyi knowing that whatever the future holds, she will fight unflinchingly to the end.
in this place surrounded by the statues of our own national heroes and equality, we draw inspiration from this courageous woman from a distant land. she reminds us the freedom is we enjoy are not just our birthright as americans, they are the aspirations of all men and women. defending them will always require the kind of courage she has shown throughout her long and difficult struggle. for the people of burma. there are many examples of that courage but i think my favorite took place on august 26, 1988. aung san suu kyi was about to make her very public debut with a speech to half million people
at the sweatagong pagoda and someone asked if she wanted to wear a bulletproof vest. why, she ended? 5 is afraid of being killed by would never speak out against the government. it is easy to throw flaming bottles from a passing car or from behind a mask. it is easy to spray bullets from a tank at an unarmed mob. the woman we honor today shows a far more difficult task, the path of gone the, the path of martin luther king. the path of peaceful resistance, civil disobedience,
for the sake of future generations she would never know. the path of hope. it was not the life she wanted but it was, she knew, her calling. and she has been faithful. we are honored today to stand with you, my friend, for the noble cause that you embody. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the majority leader of the united states senate, the hon. harry reid. >> today the people of burma
honors aung san suu kyi for personal sacrifice and dedication spreading freedom and justice not only in burma but the world. even when max separation from her family it meant being apart from her husband in the our of his death, aung san suu kyi has remained true to her cause. today i also recognize my colleague, republican leader mitch mcconnell. i have stood next to him on the senate floor for a long time and there is no cause for which he has been more pronounced than in honoring aung san suu kyi and burma and i applaud him for his good work. he has been a longstanding advocate to focus on burma and what is wrong with the ruling
junta, cosponsoring the bill that pressured the burmese regime for freedom. sometimes people think it is hard for two parties in congress to find common ground and oftentimes it is but i am pleased where burma policy is concerned there has been no split between democrats and republicans. i am grateful senator mcconnell put leadership on this issue not just for the last two days, the last week, two months and two decades. i also commend hillary clinton and the many foreign security officers who dedicated their time and talents in the cause of liberty and democracy abroad. as we tragically saw last week's state department put their lives on the line and worked to spread american value around the globe. as we honor suu kyi we should express gratitude to all those in the quest for peace.
did to suu kyi's quest for leadership and sacrifice, burma has moved towards freedom for all its people but there's more work to be done. she will tell you that. more work to be done to ensure no one in burma need live in fear of political pressure or ethnic violence. elections are important step toward that goal. aung san suu kyi x release from house arrest is another but as suu kyi has said, quote, one prisoner of conscience is too many end until the burmese people live under a fully democratic government that is transparent and respect the rule of law we must continue to push for reform. suu kyi said in oslo she accepted the nobel peace prize, quote, the piece of the world is as long as negative forces, the better forces anywhere for all at risk. every citizen of the world
including those who live in the most free and safest conditions of the debt of gratitude to the helpful souls who put their lives on the line for democracy and freedom. there is no better example of that than the guest we have here today. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the united states secretary of state, the hon. hillary rodham clinton. [applause] >> 17 years ago, as we were in beijing on behalf of the un conference concerning the rights
of women, we fought about many of the women around the world who could not be with us but whose presence was a strong message of the values that we were promoting, values that were not just american values but universal values. madeleine albright left that conference in beijing, taking with harry poster signed by all the americans and a few others do we gave the opportunity to sign, to take that poster to burma to give to aung san suu kyi, to let her know once again that there were many of us are around the world supporting her
in her cause. when i was a member of the senate and privileged to vote for the bill we now see come to fruition in 2008, i never imagined that a year later i would be secretary of state. but i was so pleased to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues, my former colleagues, in thinking about a new approach that the united states might take to from to see if there were any ways to help move a transition forward not only in honor of an furtherance of aung san suu kyi's life work but for the people of burma.
i've reached out to joe crowley and congressman manzullo and my friend diane feinstein, john mccain and mitch mcconnell. i went to see senator mcconnell in his office. i said what do you think about seeing whether there is any opening whatsoever? i was so pleased when he said let's get given a try. let's proceed judiciously, the way out is his office, showed me a letter. we knew at some point, change would have to come but whether it would be a year or decade or longer, no one could predict. that very carefully and close
consultation, we began sending assistant secretary campbell and created by the congress and special envoy. listening, probing, seeing whether they are seeing something happening and slowly change started. when the house arrest was lifted and the voice of this remarkable woman could be heard more broadly, we knew the united states had to be not only supporting the change but carefully nurturing it with --
to ensure our did not end up being detoured. today we are joined by a representative from the president of burma and we welcome the new ambassador from burma and we are joined not only by a fearless champion of human rights and democracy, but a member of parliament. it is almost too delicious to believe, my friends, that you are here in the rotunda of our great capital, the centerpiece of our democracy as an elected member of your parliament. [applause]
and as nancy pelosi, the leader of the political opposition, the leader of a political party. i am so deeply moved by what she has stood for and what she has represented first and foremost for the people of her country but for people everywhere who yearn for freedom, whose voices deserve to be heard. but i am also very impressed that she was not satisfied upon their release from house arrest
to remain an advocate, a symbol, an icon. in many ways that would have been the easiest path to take because if anyone understands how difficult politick is anywhere in the world, it is all of us in this chamber today. the to and fro of making decisions, of compromise, of reaching agreement with people that you don't agree with and in her case, people who were her former jailers, is a great testament to her courage and fortitude and understanding of what burma needs now. last december, i had a great honor of visiting with her in the house by the lake where she
was confined for many years. as we walked around that house and through the room, i remember another visit i had made years before with nelson mandela showing me his prison cell on robin island. these two political prisoners were celebrated -- separated by great distancess but they were both marked by uncommon grace, generosity of spirit, and unshakable will. they both understood something that i think we all have to grasp. the day they walked out of prison, the data house arrest was ended it was not the end of the struggle. it was the beginning of the new phase, overcoming the past,
healing a wounded country, building a democracy would require moving from icon to politicians. in a time when politics and politicians are sometimes the object of criticism and even distain, it is well for us to remember people fight and die for the right to exercise politics, to be part of a democracy, to make decisions peacefully without resorting to the gun. that work of building democracy never ends, not here in the seat of the oldest democracy in world war in a country like burma and
its new capital where the speaker of the lower house where suu kyi now serves says to me help us learn how to be a democratic congress, a parliament. they were trying to teach themselves by watching old segments of the west wing. i said i think we can do better than that, mr. speaker. so as we honor her, a time that many of us feared would never happen, it is good to recognize that one phase of her work may be over but another phase, equally important, is just beginning, and that the united
states will stand with her, with the president of burma and those who are reformers in the executive branch and the legislative branch, with the activist, with civil society, as they stand, the flickers of democratic progress and press forward with reforms, and we wish them all god speed. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the hon. john boehner. [applause] >> once again let me say thank you all for your presence here in the capitol rotunda today.
let me also thank secretary clinton and mrs. bush for joining us and thank my colleagues on both sides of the capital for their work in bringing us all together. mike collins sponsored the resolution, thank you. one leader in particular deserves recognition for his extraordinary devotion to this cause and that is my good friend senator mitch mcconnell. in a few moments we will present miss suu kyi with the congressional gold medal and what a moment will be for a woman whose name means strange collection of bright victories. a quarter of a century ago, ms. suu kyi invited her countrymen to fulfill her father's goal to make democracy the popular creek. today because of the sacrifice of she and her supporters that
invitation still stands, a bright victory indeed and one that we will celebrate today. as we do we can look ahead with a renewed sense of purpose, we can present this metal not only as a symbol of the highest honors but also of our highest hopes and for the hard work that lies ahead. because freedom isn't easy to find, it takes a long winding road. shortcuts are few and setbacks are many. america has known its fair share. the party led by men who refuse to give in to fear or doubt or refuse to give up their identity, their dignity and their sense of mission, that gleam in their i will still get their. for all we have of freedom, rudyard kipling, of suu's
favorite authors once wrote all we use or no, this is our father's fought for us long, long ago. she still delights in difficult and often lonely path and with this gold medal, the american people having a lantern for her, may it serve as a beacon of our commitment to the future of good health and bright victories. thank you all very much. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated for the unveiling and presentation of the congressional gold medal, members of the united states congress.
[applause] >> this is one of the most moving days of my life, to be here in a house not divided, a house joined together to welcome a stranger from a distant land. yet i do not feel myself to be a stranger. i see many familiar faces, faces that are new to me but what they have done for my country and our cause. this is a moment of which i have been waiting for many years.
among all these faces, some i saw when i was under house arrest and some i saw after i was released from house arrest and all the phases of my life i have been accompanied by friends. soak it is worth the years of waiting. the great honor you have conferred in me will be all lasting memento of the steadfast support of the united states congress from the dams are at -- democratic aspirations of my people, from the death -- depth of my heart i think the people of america and their representatives for keeping us in your hearts and minds during the dark years when freedom and
justice seemed beyond our reach. so many of you have done so much to uphold our cause that it would take me more than one afternoon to recite all the names of those who i hold dear in appreciation and gratitude. however, i would like to mention the name of one man who i so wished could have been with us today. tom lantos. i am sorry i have arrived too late to be able to meet him, to be able to take his hands and to say thank you for what you did for us, thank you for being the man you are. i never had the chance to meet him, but i shall always remember him with gratitude. i stand here now, strong in the knowledge that i am among friends who will be with us as we continue with our talks of
building a nation that offers peace and prosperity and basic human rights protected by the rule of law to all who dwell within its realm. this has been made possible under reform measures, our presidents are very young but rapidly maturing legislature and the vast majority of our people are committed to democratic values and to enable us to fulfill our potential and take our rightful place in the modern world. i am particularly encouraged by the presence of the minister who has been leading peace talks in our country and who reinforces my faith in the future of reform
and reconciliation. there will be difficulties in the way ahead. [applause] there will be difficulties in the way ahead but i am confident that we shall be able to overcome all obstacles with the help and support of our friends. the ties of friendship and understanding of that have developed between you, the representatives of the most powerful democracy in the world, lovers of democracy in burma, for much of what we had to suffer over the past decade. these ties will be strengthened as we work together to achieve our common goal. how privileged i am to be with you today, but there are many who are not enjoying this
privileged yet and these are the people we need to remember. not just those in my country but everywhere else in the world where freedom is yet a dream. i believe i speak not just for myself but for many of my colleagues and for my people when i say may today be and on every of many days and years of hope and joy for the people of the united states and burma and other people the world over who are delighted in the desire for harmony, security and liberty. it has always been my opinion that democracy offers the best balance between freedom and security for all of us. to be a whole human being we need both security and freedom.
without security we cannot rest in the peace necessary to discover the world to be the beautiful place that it can be. without freedom also, we will be deprived of the many opportunities that make us more cumin and more remain. for this reason, we are secured to the principles and values of democracy. no doubt it is not perfect. there is no such thing as a perfect system invented by we human beings who are so riddled with imperfections. and yet in spite of the imperfection, democracy still remains a beacon of hope for all of us. we have been united. in many parts of the world, by our belief, but i our confidence
in democracy. as i go forward with my countrymen and women along with the difficult path of building a truly democratic society where all our people can live together in peace, remembering always that burma is a nation of many different nationalities of people, we believe that we can go forward in unity and in peace and give our friend the satisfaction of helping us to get to a place where all people wish to get to. a place where dreams are realized. thank you. [applause]
>> let us pray. god moves glory, fills the skies, triumphs over the shades of night. board, thank you f , thank you, congressional gold medal ceremony and the opportunity to honor a woman of excellence, aung san suu kyi. we praise you for her passion for freedom, for her willingness to sacrifice for truth and for her courage to clings to her convictions, may her compassion, courage and competence challenge us when we are too well pleased
with ourselves. when our dreams come true simply because we have dreamed too little. may her sacrifice, daring and persistence inspire us to rise to the challenge of the needs of our world and to do it by making new commitments followed by faithful service to you and human kind. lord, make us strong in your strength and lead us into a future fuelled by faith, focus, and fortitude. we pray in your sovereign