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Myanmar Democracy Leader Speaks In NYC

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A freedom fighter and Nobel Prize Winner came to New York Saturday, asking for help in her country's struggle for democracy. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

More than 40 years ago, before Myanmar's military leaders put her under house arrest for 15 years, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi lived in New York. She worked for the United Nations.

"I loved the city at a time when people thought it was terrible," she said.

That same city is giving her a big welcome on her first trip to the United States since 1971. Her 17-day visit included a stop at Queens College, where she delivered two speeches, one in English and one in Burmese.

Myanmar is also known by its former name, Burma.

"I hope you will all understand what it is like to struggle for human rights and democracy in Burma," she said. "It is just the way you've heard about it. It may seem to you not quite real until you meet it face-to-face."

That the leader of Myanmar's opposition movement is in the U.S. is a sign of the recent reforms that are beginning to take hold.

"While we have started out on the path of democratization, we are not yet anywhere near our goal of a truly democratic society." Suu Kyi said.

Hundreds of Burmese-Americans came out to see her.

"We feel like we are seeing our sister," said one. "That's how I feel."

Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest in 2010. In April, she was elected to Parliament. Earlier this week, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

She urged the audience and all people living in Democratic countries to cherish their rights. She said she was always worried when her English her friends didn't bother to vote.

"I would say to them, 'You must vote,'" she said. "'You must use your Democratic rights. Otherwise, they will fade away.'"

Aung San Suu Kyi said she came here to say thank you and to ask Americans to stay with her and with her country until its journey to democracy in complete.

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