Aung San Suu Kyi honoured by Brighton Festival

Image caption,
Aung San Suu Kyi was met by thousands of supporters on the day of her release

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been named as the guest director of the 2011 Brighton Festival.

Organisers said this year's festival would celebrate and champion Ms Suu Kyi's cause and world vision.

Ms Suu Kyi said it was wonderful to know there was so much support for the effort to bring democracy to Burma.

Events include a discussion with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called Article 19, which will look at Freedom of Information and the right to know.

'Use your liberty'

Ms Suu Kyi will not be attending the event, but in a statement she said: "It is especially pleasing for me to see, albeit remotely, Brighton Festival taking shape this year, and to think that so many people will come together in May to celebrate great art and experience the inner peace it brings.

"It is wonderful too to know that there is such support for the effort to bring democracy and freedom to Burma, for which the Burmese people have been diligently working for so long."

She urged people involved in the festival to "continue to use your liberty to promote ours" - a plea which arts organisers said had been taken to the heart of the event.

The Burmese military authorities released the Nobel Peace Prize winner from house arrest on 13 November last year.

She had been detained for 15 of the previous 21 years.

Thousands of people gathered outside the home of 65-year-old Ms Suu Kyi to greet her and hear her speak.

Since her release, she has called for a peaceful revolution in Burma and said she hoped for a non-violent end to military rule.

Victorian police cells

Her brother-in-law Adrian Phillips said: "Aung San Suu Kyi has often said how important music and the arts have been to her throughout her life.

"Brighton Festival is a wonderful opportunity to bring her struggle to a wider public, at a time when it is so important for the world to keep remembering what remains to be done in Burma."

Image caption,
This year's festival will champion Ms Suu Kyi's cause and explore themes of freedom and voice

Festival chief executive Andrew Comben said he hoped the programme reflected some of Ms Suu Kyi's extraordinary spirit.

He said an incredible collection of artists had come together to celebrate an iconic woman who inspired so many.

The Asian Dub Foundation will open this year's festival with a live performance inspired by the struggle in Burma.

One performance, called The New World Order, is offering the audience a "visceral experience of imprisonment" and will take people on a journey through Victorian police cells.

And Beethoven's opera, Fidelio, chosen for "startlingly contemporary" themes of wrongful incarceration, abuse of power and personal sacrifice, will be performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Brighton Festival Chorus.

The full festival programme is due to be launched later this month.

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