Burma Releases Aung San Suu Kyi
"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."
--Aung San Suu Kyi
After enormous international pressure, Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed by the Burmese military junta. [Note: Burma and Myanmar derive from the same root. The military junta changed the name to Myanmar and many refuse to recognize this change as legitimate because the junta government is illegitimate...I continue to use Burma]
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the most amazing political figures in the military dictatorship of Burma. Burma is among the most brutal of dictatorships in Asia, going so far as to massacre pacificit Buddhist monks who were protesting their suppression of democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi has been the most consistent voice of opposition, despite many attempts to silence her. Aung San Suu Kyi was, in essence, elected Prime Minister of Burma, but the military junta instead had her arrested and detained. She has been in and out of detention and house arrest ever since.
This week she has finally been freed. This comes from Amnesty International:
Aung San Suu Kyi was freed today!
Suu Kyi, a human rights and pro-democracy leader who has been held in detention or house arrest in Myanmar for 15 of the last 21 years, spoke with a crowd of supporters outside her home shortly after her release.
Amnesty International has been advocating for this Nobel Laureate over the course of two decades. Although she was recently barred from participating in the first elections her country has held in 20 years, we welcome the news of her freedom today.
Thank you for your work on Suu Kyi's case — your letters, public demonstrations, phone calls and discussions with friends, family, and colleagues.
Suu Kyi's release is welcome news for a country that routinely imprisons people who engage in peaceful political dissent, but others are still at risk.
Donate to support Amnesty International's continued work on behalf of prisoners of conscience.
Buddhist monk U Gambira is currently serving a 63 year sentence at a prison in Myanmar for his part in monk-led demonstrations in 2007. While in jail, he has been tortured and denied access to medical treatment. U Gambira is in poor health and should be released immediately. He is one of more than 2,000 political prisoners being held in Myanmar.
I also suggest visiting this website dedicated to Suu Kyi's freedom and efforts on behalf of Burmese Democracy.
And please visit the US Campaign for Burma to find out more.
There are several boycotts aimed at pressuring Burma to move towards democracy. The release of Suu Kyi is only one small step towards true democracy and the boycotts continue. There has been a travel boycott of Burma since 1996 and I support this. I suggest writing to the Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board and tell them that you are encouraged by the release of Daw Suu Kyi (Daw is a term of respect) but will continue to boycott Myanmar until democracy is restored:
Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board
c/o Traders Hotel
Level 3, Business Centre
223 Sule Pagoda Road
Tel: +95 (0)1 242-828 Ext: 6462
Fax: +95 (0)1 242-800
There are also boycotts of Total Oil and Chevron/Texaco because both companies support the military junta in Burma. Boycott these companies (there are many other reasons to boycott them...currently Citgo, Hess and Sunnoco seem the best companies to by gasoline from) and write them telling them you will boycott them until democracy is restored to Burma or until they divest from Burma.
TOTAL OIL US
P.O. Box 674411
Houston, Texas 77267-4411
6001 Bollinger Canyon Road
San Ramon, CA 94583
There is a boycott of all gems that originate in Burma. From World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) in 2007:
CIBJO deplores the violent repression of individuals, human rights and democracy in Burma and fully supports the UN Human Rights Council Resolution S-5/1: “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar” of October 2nd 2007. CIBJO also fully supports the UN Security Council statement of October 11th 2007.
CIBJO reminds its members of their commitments to abiding with the CIBJO Code of Ethics, with current particular regard to the situation in Burma.
CIBJO advises its member associations to urge their members to seek information from their suppliers as to whether gemstones have originated from Burma and to consider seriously refraining from purchasing any Burmese gemstones until such time as the United Nations indicate that the process of democratic reform has started in Burma.
CIBJO further advises its member associations to urge their members not to purchase gemstones directly from the Myanmar Junta Government.
Rubies are one gem that come primarily from Burma. All one has to do is ask for certification of origin to verify where a gem you are purchasing comes from. This can help you avoid supporting dictatorships you oppose since gems are among the largest sources of money to dictators next to oil ("blood diamonds" are merely the most infamous).