Local support grows for release of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi
Trista di Genova and Nicholas E. Veitch, Special to the China Post
Yesterday morning, Son Yu Liam, the founder and president of the Aung
San Suu Kyi Network in Taiwan, met with Vice President Annette Lu at
Sun Yat-sen Memorial for the event “Support Democracy in Burma,” with
more than thirty organizations lent their support to the action.
Vice President Lu expressed her support for the Aung San Suu Kyi
Network, and her desire to establish a pan-Asian democracy movement based in Taiwan that would make use of the Taiwan democratic experience of
moving peacefully from military dictatorship to democracy. She pointed out
that there was a time when Taiwan, too, had political prisoners jailed
for decades on Green Island and that democracy “requires real people
making real sacrifices and that we should all be grateful for them.” She
said Aung San Suu Kyi is making just such a sacrifice in Burma today.
The vice president and Aung San Suu Kyi Network are discussing holding
a range of public activities in December to stimulate public awareness
and interest both locally and internationally.
Next Tuesday, the Aung San Suu Kyi Network will have an internal
meeting at their office on Han Kou St. Members of the local and Burmese
expatriate communities will attend to discuss how to best exert pressure on
Burma via the member nations of ASEAN. Their goals are to end the
house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, have the government admit its electoral
failure in 1990, and put the nation back on the road to democracy. They
hope the international community can come together to pressure Burma to
return to democracy.
Recent int’l support
When Aung San Suu Kyi greeted protesters marching past her house,
briefly praying with monks on Sept. 22, it was the first time the public
had seen her in four years.
This year alone, many attempts have been made to persuade Myanmar to
release her. On Jan. 1, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for
her release, as it released 2,831 prisoners. On May 16, world leaders —
including all three surviving U.S. presidents — wrote a letter
demanding her freedom. On May 30, the Philippines led members of the ASEAN in calling to overturn Myanmar’s decision to extend her house arrest. On June 13, members of the Indian Parliament wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi for
her 62nd birthday: “You are the true prime minister of Myanmar.” On
June 18, 2007, the day before her birthday, U.S. Senators Mitch
McConnell and Diane Feinstein urged the Senate to continue trade sanctions on Myanmar.
About Aung San Suu Kyi
Heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence,
Aung San Suu Kyi helped found the National League for Democracy in 1988,
and was put under house arrest on July 20, 1989. During her arrest, she
was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990, and the
Nobel Peace Prize the year after.
In 1990, the military junta called a general election, which her party
won decisively. Being the NLD’s candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi would have
assumed the office of prime minister. Instead, the results were
nullified, and the military seized power.
She was released from house arrest in July 1995 but if she left the
country to visit her family in the UK, the military would not allow her
return. She was never again able to see her husband, who died in March
The junta continually prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from meeting with
party supporters or international visitors. In September 2000, it put her
under house arrest again. On May 6, 2002, following U.N.-led
negotiations, the government released her. Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed “a new dawn for the country.” However on May 30, 2003, a mob attacked her
caravan; she fled and was arrested. In September 2003, the government again
placed her under house arrest.
Her father, Aung San, had negotiated Burma’s independence from the
United Kingdom in 1947, and was assassinated by rivals in the same year.
Her mother, Khin Kyi, gained prominence in the newly-formed Burmese
government, and appointed Burmese ambassador to India in 1960.
Aung San Suu Kyi graduated from St Hugh’s College, Oxford in 1969 and
in 1972 married Dr. Michael Aris, an Oxford academic in Tibetan
culture. They had two sons together, Alexander and Kim.
One of her most famous speeches is the “Freedom From Fear” speech,
which begins: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing
power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts
those who are subject to it.”