The Burmese opposition leader, member of parliament and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is visiting the Czech Republic for the first time in history. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who spent almost 15 years under house arrest when the military government was in power, is coming to the Czech Republic at the invitation of the Forum 2000 Foundation. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has also been a member of the Forum 2000 Foundation’s International Advisory Board since October of last year.
“We invited Suu Kyi to Forum 2000 every year even though during her house arrest it was clear to us that this would only be a symbolic invitation,” says the Executive Director of the Forum 2000 Foundation Jakub Klepal. “But this is precisely why we wanted to at least support her in this way in her fight for democracy and the observance of human rights in Burma. Václav Havel, who nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, would undoubtedly have taken great delight in her visit.” The Forum 2000 Foundation is not only hosting the Burmese MP but is also the main coordinator of her second European trip since she was released from house arrest. Besides the Czech Republic, she will also be visiting Poland and Hungary.
“There are no better friends than those with whom we shared the same values. It is because the late President Václav Havel and we in Burma shared a hunger for democracy and human rights then we became friends across oceans and continents,” says Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
A number of other distinguished guests will be gathering at the 17th annual Forum 2000 Conference entitled “Societies in Transitions,” which takes place on September 15–17 in Prague. These dignitaries include people such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the American singer and activist Joan Baez, and the former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Frederik Willem de Klerk.
The theme of this year’s conference stems from the legacy of the founder of Forum 2000 Václav Havel, who devoted his life to fighting for freedom and human dignity in the face of a repressive regime and who strived to transform our country into an open and prosperous democracy. “The conference will focus on the difficulties, opportunities, and risks of transformation processes in countries from the post-Soviet region to the Arab world, Latin America, and Asia,” says Jakub Klepal while outlining this year’s program. “The aim is to better understand what is needed during the transition from an authoritarian regime to a democracy but also to better understand the things that cause these processes to grind to a halt or lose their way. Discussions will focus on institutional, constitutional, and social development, the dynamics of political parties, transformational justice, the media, education, foreign policy, and other factors such as religion and historical memory.”
This year’s conference will be attended by important international figures, particularly politicians, academics, representatives of civil society, journalists, business men and women, and religious leaders. Besides the aforementioned guests, others who have confirmed their participation include the former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo, the member of the European Parliament and former Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz, the renowned British philosopher and political scientist Roger Scruton, the Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri, the Bahraini activist Nada Dhaif, the President of the National Democratic Institute Ken Wollack, the former European Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler, the head of the Danish media company Jørgen Ejbøl, the politician and former Director of the main Israeli security service Shin Bet Ami Ayalon, the Egyptian analyst Tarek Osman, the renowned American political scientist Michael Novak, and the Venezuelan lawyer and human rights defender Tamara Sujú Roa.
“Last year, a record 4,000 visitors attended the conference,” says Forum 2000 Foundation spokesman Filip Šebek. “We are very happy that interest in our conference debates on topical international and domestic themes is constantly growing. This year, students or any interested members of the public can also attend the conference by filling out a simple registration form on the internet. What’s more, people can attend our lectures for free. Unlike most other similar events, the Forum 2000 Conference is unique in this respect.” The main part of the conference this year can also be watched via a live broadcast on the website of the event’s media partners ihned.cz and respekt.cz.
Admirers of the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will certainly welcome the fact that, besides his appearance at the conference and a discussion at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, there will also be a public lecture entitled “Compassion and Respect in Today’s Society,” which is taking place at the Tipsport Arena in Holešovice on September 14 at 13.30. Tickets for the lecture can be bought from the Ticketportal network. After operating costs have been covered, the proceeds from their sale will be used for organizing the Forum 2000 Conference in 2014 and to support schools in Tibet in 2014 via the M.O.S.T. and Brontosaurus civic associations. You can find more details about the lecture and the conference program as well as a continuously updated list of conference guests at the foundation’s website: www.forum2000.cz