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Aung San Suu Kyi: What Follows?

  • November 14th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

burma-aung-pbs.jpgThe Saturday night (13.11.10) liberation from home detention of  Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar has been welcomed with stern reservations by democratic governments.

LINE UP OF SUPPORTERS

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the leader of the Burmese democracy movement must have total liberty of movement and be able to participate fully in the political life of her country.

The European Union has taken a lead in exerting pressure on the military regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and hold fully free elections.

The President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, said there should be no constraints on her freedom of expression.

“I rejoice that Mme Aung San Suu Kyi today has the freedom of which she never should have been deprived,” he said.

“France will be extremely watchful of the conditions under which this liberty is achieved.”

Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, said she should have been free long ago.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration for all of us who believe in freedom pf expression, democracy and human rights”, he said.

“Her detention was a parody of justice, of which the only goal was to silence the Burmese public.

“Aung San Suu Kyi has the right to her freedom and the Burmese regime from now on should respect it.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany called for the liberation also of more than 2000 other political prisoners in the country of Burma, currently named Myanmar.

She said the peaceful determination of Mrs Suu Kyi had become a model for the worldwide struggle over human rights.

The demand for the release now of all political prisoners has been taken up as well by the United States, President Barack Obama calling Aung San Suu Kyi a “heroine” – and also by Australia.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, told Australian television the government would seek a meeting with Mrs Suu Kyi to express its support for her cause.

“She should now have complete freedom of movement, and complete freedom of speech”, he said.

HARD TIMES

Aung San Suu Kyi, as leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), won an overwhelming victory at open elections held in 1990, but she had been detained, and the military government refused to transfer power.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the following year, but remained cut off from the public, held in detention for extended periods.

Elections held a week ago (7.11.10) were all but universally dismissed as unfair and unfree: the regime, ensuring it would win through a government-sponsored party, gave itself a start in the contest by reserving 25% of parliamentary seats for its own nominees, banned voting in certain ethnic areas of the country, and imposed severe campaign  limits on opposition parties. The NLD rejected the terms and declared a boycott, though some members formed a break-away group to take part.

WHAT NOW IN BURMA POLITICS?

Thousands of exhilarated supporters flocked to the gates of Mrs Suu Kyi’s home late on Saturday after a cordon of military guards was stood down, signifying that the detention had ended.

She said it was time for parties to be “working together”, telling the supporters they had “not seen one another for a long time” and people should come to “have a talk” at another meeting, the next day.

Kevin Rudd observed: “I think if you’ve spent 15 of the last 21 years in prison… based on a core principle, which is the belief that the people should actually be the ones who decide the government of a country, then it’s very unlikely that Aung San Suu Kui is now going to walk away from that principle.”

Reference

Alister Bull, Reuters, Toronto Star, “World leaders applaud release of Aung San Suu Kyi”, 13.11.10. http://www.torontosun.com/news/world/2010/11/13/16125086.html, (14.11.10).

Government of Myanmar, State Peace and Development Council, “Myanmar.com: the Ultimate Guide to Myanmar”, Naypyidaw. http://www.myanmar.com/, (14.11.10).

Le Monde, Paris, “Les Birmans fêtent la libération d’Aung San Suu Kyi”, (Burmese celebrate the liberation of San Suu Kyi); “Libre, Aung San Suu Kyi appelle ses partisans à ‘travailler ensemble’”, (Free, Aung San Suu Kyi calls on  supporters to ‘work together’); “Paris met en garde contre ‘toute entrave’ à la liberté d’Aung San Suu Kyi”, (Paris on watch against ‘any constraints’ on the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi), 13.11.10. www.lemonde.fr, (14.11.10).

Reuters, London, Factbox:  Facts about Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, 13.11.10. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AB1UI20101113, 14.11.10).

Picture   pbs.org

 

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