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Democracy

Germany's SPD awards Myanmar's Suu Kyi with Willy Brandt Prize

Germany’s Social Democrats have awarded the Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the Willy Brandt Prize for her life of resisting oppression. Suu Kyi is in Germany for a four-day visit.

The 68-year-old Suu Kyi received the award Friday from former Social Democratic Party politician Egon Bahr (left in photo) and SPD head Sigmar Gabriel (right), who called her a "role model and great inspiration" in the fight for freedom.

Gabriel compared Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, with Willy Brandt while handing her the prize. The award is named after the former West German chancellor who fled abroad from the Nazis as a young man and returned to rebuild democracy.

"Just like him, you have resisted the pressure of persecution," Gabriel told Suu Kyi during the ceremony. "Just like him, you are fighting for freedom and democracy."

Her latest battle with Myanmar's rulers involves pushing for amendments to the 2008 constitution, which had essentially cemented military control over the legislature. The charter, pushed through by the junta that ruled from 1988 to 2010, allocates 25 percent of all parliamentary seats to military appointees.

The constitution also requires 75 percent parliamentary approval for all new legislation. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which holds 43 of the 664 seats in the lower and upper houses, has pushed for amendments before the next general election, slated for late 2015.

Earlier Friday, Suu Kyi visited a session of Germany's parliament. The deputy speaker, Claudia Roth, said she admired Suu Kyi‘s courage, integrity and stamina and wished her success in her "parliamentary actions."

On Thursday, Suu Kyi visited separately with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck as part of her four-day trip to Germany. Gauck had previously met with Suu Kyi in Myanmar in February.

The SPD first awarded the 25,000-euro ($35,000) prize in 2011. The pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, of Israeli descent who opposes the occupation of the Palestinian territories, won the prize in its first year. The second winner was the former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, a Labor politician who was in power during the July 2011 attacks in Oslo and Utoya that killed 77 people and famously said that "the answer to violence is more democracy and openness."

mkg/hc (dpa, epd)

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