News / Asia

Burma's Detained Democracy Leader Honored Globally for 65th Birthday

Burma's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, turns 65 Saturday.  But, as with many past birthdays, she is spending it in detention. The military government, which ignored her party's 1990 election win, has kept her under house arrest for most of the last two decades and barred her from this year's controversial elections. She is being honored around the world for her determination to see democracy in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi's 65th birthday is being marked globally with rallies and speeches from London to Manila to Washington D.C. But it is more a show of solidarity than a celebration.

The leader of Burma's National League for Democracy has spent 14 birthdays in some form of detention, with limited access to the outside world.

Last August, the government extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest for 18 months for failing to inform authorities that an uninvited American man had swam to her lakeside home.

Critics say it was an excuse to keep her locked up through controversial elections expected later this year.

Demand for dialogue

Activists and supporters spoke at the Bangkok press club Thursday calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's release and for the government to agree to a dialogue with her and opposition groups.

Canada's Ambassador to Thailand, Ron Hoffman, says Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the few foreigners granted honorary Canadian citizenship for her work towards democracy in Burma.

"Today we reaffirm our commitment to carry this collective struggle forward. The government of Canada will do its part to ensure that Canadian actions match our words," Hoffman said. "To this end, Canada has imposed, and continues to, the toughest sanctions in the world on Burma's military regime."

The United States and the European Union, among others, also have tough economic sanctions against Burma for its failure to improve democracy and human rights.

Many political prisoners

There are more than 2,100 political prisoners in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and rights groups document widespread military abuses.

George Kent, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, read a statement on behalf of the U.S. government.

"Like Nelson Mandela 20 years ago when he walked out of prison, and a now prosperous South Africa successfully hosting the World Cup, Daw Suu could be the greatest possible partner for the regime to manage a successful transition to a better future without recriminations or revenge," he said.

The statement also says the United States stands in solidarity with the people of Burma to honor Aung San Suu Kyi's non-violent struggle for democracy and that it was tragic the military government saw her as an obstacle rather than the key to peace and prosperity.

Respected by many

Aung San Suu Kyi is believed to be one of the few figures in Burma respected by democracy advocates and various ethnic groups opposed to the government.

Zipporah Sein is general secretary of the Karen National Union, the political wing of one of the largest ethnic groups fighting against Burma's military.

"The people of Burma will remain in danger unless the national reconciliation and genuine dialogue begin," Sein said. "If the military regime continue refuse totally, we call on the international community to denounce the election and not to recognize the results of the election."

Upcoming election

The government says the parliamentary elections, which it has yet to schedule, are part of a road map to democracy.

But critics say they are designed to legitimize military rule.

A military-drafted constitution guarantees them a quarter of all seats in parliament even before elections.

Military leaders have taken off their uniforms to contest the remaining seats as civilians but are widely believed to remain loyal to the military.

In May the government dissolved Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD for refusing to expel her and other political prisoners from the party and participate in the elections.

The NLD won Burma's last elections in 1990 but the military ignored the results.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid