Deaf to Daw Suu
25 Jun 20120 comments
I hate celebritisation. It's by far one of the worst developments in the British 'free' media. But meeting Daw Suu I can begin to understand the feeling - it felt like I spoke with her for an hour, but I barely remember what she said.
Daw Suu has been an ARTICLE 19 honorary board member for at least a decade. During that period, her struggle has been a constant reminder of what we are defending and fighting for.
Having seen her speak several times - but always at a distance in a large crowd - coming face to face with her, my immediate thought was how much taller and more powerful she seems up close.
In the far distance, she seems somewhat frail and delivers gentle and sometimes stilting speeches. Up close however, the 67 year old cuts a completely different perspective, appearing much stronger and more confident than her orations show.
She joked in parliament last week that when party workers visited her house in Oxford and spoke to her late husband, Michael Aris, he always told them to speak to Daw Suu as she would decide who he voted for. At the time, her quiet voice and gentle speech made you laugh. But having now met her, I can really believe it's true.
Thinking now, we spoke for about five minutes, although it felt like an hour. (Indeed, I now realise that I took up the whole of our "governance" group's time!) But I was so in awe of being 18 inches away from a personal hero that my senses went into overload. (Two people from other organisations congratulated me afterwards, so I know that I wasn't blabbering.)
We discussed Bhutan (I join her late husband as a student of the small kingdom) and had a little joke about my eviction from her parliamentry speech last week. We then went on for the majority of our conversation to discuss freedom of expression and media regulation.
Under Chatham House rules, my lips are sealed as to what she said. All I can say is that she is very concerned. I for one look forward to hearing more from her, and doing something to address those concerns.