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Suu Kyi honored by Oxford University

OXFORD, United Kingdom--Aung San Suu Kyi said she was deeply moved Wednesday as she was honored by Oxford University, in the city where she studied and brought up the family she would later leave behind.

The Myanmar democracy icon also called on the prestigious seat of learning to help educate a new generation of students that could lead the Southeast Asian country along the road from military rule to democracy.

“Today has been very moving,” Suu Kyi, 67, said in a speech after she was presented with an honorary doctorate in civil law in the grand surroundings of Oxford's 17th century Sheldonian Theatre.

“During those difficult years I spent under house arrest I was upheld by my memories of Oxford. They helped me cope with the challenges I had to face,” she said.

Wearing a traditional longyi skirt under her scarlet academic robes, and flowers in her hair beneath her black velvet cap, Suu Kyi smiled as she received a scroll from university chancellor Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong.

After her speech she received a standing ovation from an audience of more than 1,000 dons and students from the university where she studied politics, philosophy and economics in the mid-1960s.

Patten said, in Latin: “Unbowed champion of liberty, who has given your people and the whole world an example of courage and endurance, I on my own authority and that of the whole university admit you to the honorary degree of doctor of civil law.”

Suu Kyi spent nearly two decades in Oxford, and brought up her sons Alexander and Kim there with her English husband, Michael Aris.

When she left for her homeland to care for her dying mother in 1988, she could not have imagined it would be nearly a quarter of a century before she would return.

As leader of the country's democracy movement, she refused to leave Myanmar, fearing that the military leaders would prevent her from returning.

As a result, she only saw her husband and two sons a handful of times in the intervening years. When her husband was dying in 1999 he urged her to remain in Myanmar and pursue her struggle.

She was released from house arrest in November 2010 and is now a member of parliament.

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Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives in a procession at an award ceremony at Oxford University, Oxford, England, Wednesday, June 20. It was a long wait, but Aung San Suu Kyi has finally received her honorary degree from Oxford University on Wednesday at the university's Encaenia ceremony, where it presents honorary degrees.

(AP)

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