RICHHILL journalist Peter Cardwell had the rare privilege of meeting Burmese heroine and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi this week, on his final assignment as a producer for Sky News.
Aung San Suu Kyi is in the UK this week as part of a tour of Europe, during which she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize originally awarded to her in 1991, and attended a concert in her honour in Dublin.
Peter, 28, who wrote for The Portadown Times as a teenager and has been working with Sky News since February, was assigned as one of two producers of the major interview for the broadcaster.
Her party, the National League for Democracy, won the 1990 general election in Burma, but she spent 15 of the next 20 years under house arrest in Burma, before being released in November 2010. During her years of captivity, her husband, Michael Aris, died of cancer, and she was apart from her two sons, Alexander and Kim.
Both Peter and Daw Suu, as she is known, attended St Hugh’s College at the University of Oxford in their respective youths. They met in the college principal’s office on Tuesday during the Sky News interview.
“The continued house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi was always there in the background when I was at university,” said Peter. “We were very aware of her noble and stoic struggle against the brutal Burmese military junta and how they oppressed the people of Burma. I remember when she was released in 2010; I was working for Newsnight at the time and it was an amazing feeling to think that she was, at last, free in one sense, though many problems remained.”
Sky News’s special correspondent Alex Crawford asked the questions of Aung San Suu Kyi, with Peter and another producer managing the logistics of the highly sought-after interview at St Hugh’s College. Immediately following the interview the Richhill man had a brief chat with the democracy campaigner and a photograph was taken.
“I never, ever, thought Aung San Suu Kyi would be released from house arrest. I never thought she would have the freedom to visit Britain with the certainty that she will be let back into Burma. And I certainly never thought I would have the privilege of meeting her,” said Peter. “It was an incredible final assignment for Sky News, where I have hugely enjoyed working over the past few months.”
Peter takes up a new post reporting for UTV Live on Monday.