Campaigners across the globe are honoring the birthday Friday of
Burma's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Burmese
pro-democracy leader spent her 64th birthday at Rangoon's notorious
Insein prison, where she is on trial and facing up to five years behind
Activists and politicians are marking Aung San Suu Kyi's
64th birthday with gatherings of support from Thailand to Europe and
the United States.
In addition, a coalition of 23 Burma rights
groups has formed "64forsuu.org", a website where supporters can post
messages urging her release from detention.
Johnny Chatterton is
with the Burma Campaign UK and Project Manager for 64forSuu.org. He
says they have received over 9,000 messages of support, including from
politicians and celebrities.
"I think the site is very important
in showing that right across the world people have not forgotten her,"
Chatterton said. "And, that there's a huge political support for her
and there's public support calling for her to be freed. So, I think
it's a great help in showing the Burmese regime that they can't just
get away with this and that the world won't forget her."
San Suu Kyi is on trial for violating the terms of her house arrest by
allowing an uninvited American man to stay over without official
The trial has been widely condemned as a sham designed to keep her locked up through next year's controversial elections.
San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won Burma's last
elections in 1990. But Burma's military rulers ignored the results and
placed her under house arrest, where she has remained for most of the
last 19 years.
Burma's military rulers cite ongoing fighting
with ethnic insurgent groups in the country to partly justify their
continued grip on power.
However, rights groups and exiled
politicians say the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, along with more than
2,000 other political prisoners, is the real barrier to peace.
Zin Linn is a spokesman for the Burmese government in exile.
San Suu Kyi is key to the national reconciliation in Burma," Linn said.
"Without her, Burma cannot have genuine national reconciliation. That's
because all the ethnic leaders, ceasefire leaders, all the ethnic party
leaders, all dissident leaders, all the leaders, they agree to give
their mandate to Aung San Suu Kyi to sit down at the dialogue table
with the military junta."
Aung San Suu Kyi led Burma's
non-violent resistance movement for democracy, and in 1991 was awarded
the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts.
She is the daughter of
Burma's revered founder, General Aung San, who was assassinated just
months before the country gained independence.
was the U.N. human rights envoy to Burma from 2000 to 2008 and on
several occasions met Aung San Suu Kyi as well as Burmese officials. He
says if it was not for her famous father the military government would
probably have executed her by now.
"Because she has an enormous
charisma and she is the only leader inside Burma of the opposition,"
Pinheiro said. "And, they don't want to risk having her in freedom.
They don't want to deal with a strong opposition movement."
authorities have already re-worked the constitution to ensure the
military remains in power regardless of the 2010 elections.
says it is almost certain the court will find Aung San Suu Kyi guilty,
but would likely put her back under house arrest rather than prison.
Supporters are concerned her health would quickly deteriorate in prison.
there is little doubt about the resilient spirit of Aung San Suu Kyi
and the movement for democracy in Burma that she represents.