Co-founder of Forum 2000 Yohei Sasakawa Met with Burmese Dissident Aung San Suu Kyi

In December 2011, Yohei Sasakawa, co-founder of the Forum 2000 Foundation and Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, visited Burma to meet with a representative of the democratic opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi. During the meeting, Yohei Sasakawa gave Aung San Suu Kyi photos from the last Forum 2000 Conference, along with a personal letter from Václav Havel, expressing support for her efforts and gratitude for her contributions, which was sent to the conference via video message. The meeting was held in Rangoon, one day following the death of Václav Havel.

Since its inception, the Forum 2000 Foundation has supported Aung San Suu Kyi’s non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Václav Havel invited her annually to the Forum 2000 Conference; however, she has never been able to attend it personally. She was kept under house arrest for many years, until she was released in autumn 2010. Despite this, she was not able to come to Prague last year due to concerns that she would not be able to return to Burma.

During the conference in 2010, Václav Havel said: “For many reasons, we think it is important to invite even those who have a 90% chance of being prevented from coming. Based on my own memories and experience, I know how important it was for those of us who were imprisoned that our friends took an interest in us and invited us abroad, despite the expectation that the regime would not let us go, especially when we were in prison. Nevertheless, the very fact that we were invited abroad greatly strengthened the position of the dissidents and showed the regime that the world was aware of them and that it had not succeeded in consigning them to the pit of oblivion.”

Last year, Aung San Suu Kyi participated virtually in the 15th annual Forum 2000 Conference; she shared with us her opinion and experience concerning the relationship between democracy and the rule of law via a video message. In her contribution, Suu Kyi said: “It is some years since we started on our road towards democracy. We have still not reached our goal but, as we proceed towards it, we are strengthened by the support of friends like you. So, once again, may I thank all of you and ask you to stay by our side and to help us as we continue with our struggle and we, in turn, will always be prepared to stand by the side of those who themselves are struggling for the right to enjoy basic human rights and democratic institutions under the rule of law.“

The Forum 2000 Foundation firmly believes that one day, we will be able to welcome Aung San Suu Kyi personally to the Forum 2000 Conference in Prague.