Burmese Opposition Leader to Tour Provinces

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she is planning to tour the country next month, in her first foray into the provinces since 2003, when a similar trip ended with her arrest.

The Nobel laureate announced her intentions Monday in a video presentation to more than 1,000 academics and students at the University of Hong Kong. She did not provide details, saying the itinerary has not yet been completed, and said she has not received any safety assurances from the government.

Eight years ago Monday, while touring upper Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi and her entourage were ambushed by supporters of the ruling military junta near the city of Magwe. U.S. analysts at the time said as many as 70 people may have been killed. Aung San Suu Kyi escaped, but was later captured and placed under house arrest, where she remained until November 2010.

Aung San Suu Kyi told her Hong Kong audience Monday that the state of education in Burma is "deplorable" and that her country is crying out for the potential of its young people to be realized.

Burma's universities once were viewed with respect, she recalled, and helped build the nationalist movement that was to free the country from colonial rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi said that same spirit inspired students at Rangoon University to lead the 1988 uprising aimed at freeing the country from military government. More than 20 years later, she said, many of those same students are still in prison and the standard of education at all levels in Burma has fallen.