Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taking Freedom of the City to Burma; North Teenager Gets to Meet His Inspiration

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taking Freedom of the City to Burma; North Teenager Gets to Meet His Inspiration

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Warburton

ATEENAGER has capped years of political activism in Burma by meeting resistance leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Declan Stokle, from Gosforth, Newcastle, met the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi as he travelled along the Thai border during a six-month tour helping orphans and refugees.

While he stayed in Burma's biggest city, Rangoon, the 18-year-old arranged a meeting with the 66-year-old leader of the country's National League for Democracy. Declan - who is in Burma with his parents, Tony, 51, a teacher, and Anne, 50, a nurse, to coach football and give English speaking lessons - presented her with a scroll marking her being awarded the Freedom of Newcastle earlier this year.

Mrs Stokle said: "I explained what the certificate meant, that it was the highest honour the city of Newcastle could give her and that she was now entitled to graze her cows on the Town Moor.

"She said she didn't have cows but asked if it would it be possible to walk her dog there? It was an incredible experience to meet her. She was so normal, showing that it is ordinary people filled with great courage that can change the world."

Suu Kyi became a figurehead for the democratic movement after studying at Oxford University and returning to Burma where she was placed under house arrest in July 1989.

For the majority of the last 20 years she has spent her time in some form of detention because of her efforts to bring democracy to military-ruled Burma before being released last year.

Her fight inspired Declan to highlight the plight of those living in Burma when he first visited the country as an eight-year-old.

Since then the student has visited the Burma-Thailand border eight times with his family and has helped run the charity Burmalink which raises thousands of pounds for the oppressed population. …

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