Sunday, June 19, 2005

Who's Aung San Suu Kyi?

How many of you know who Aung San Suu Kyi is? If you don't know who she is, read on below. We often hear about male political prisoners. It is not often that we hear about female political prisoners, let alone a female Nobel Prize winner. Read on and educate yourselves. I also wish we heard more about these type of actions our US Congressmen do, besides scandals and whatnots.


Congress, President Send Prisoner Cards
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi Spends 60th Birthday as Political Prisoner


WASHINGTON (June 18) - A metal gate blocked the walkway to the Myanmar Embassy, so the congressman left his delivery - a cardboard box crammed with birthday greetings for Myanmar political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi - on a pillar of the concrete fence. Nobody came out of the building.
"I have dealt with dictatorial regimes all of my life," Rep. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress, said Friday. "I don't expect any warm reception from them."

Asked what message he would have for Suu Kyi, who will spend her 60th birthday Sunday under house arrest in her home country, as she has spent most of her last 15 birthdays, Lantos said, "I want Aung San Suu Kyi to know that the entire Congress of the United States of America and the American people are with her today wishing her a happy birthday and the moral and physical courage to continue."

He promised that Congress will pass within a week legislation to renew U.S. sanctions that were imposed in 2003 against Myanmar's military government.

Protest organizers said Lantos' symbolic delivery included about 6,000 pieces of mail to Suu Kyi from across the United States and elsewhere. One was addressed to "The only Nobel Peace Prize winner who is in jail."

The military had ruled Burma since 1962, but in 1988 the current junta took power and renamed the country Myanmar. The junta allowed elections in 1990, and Suu Kyi's party won handily. That was when her years in custody began, mostly as house arrest but from time to time in jail.

Lantos, D-Calif., represented his colleagues at a demonstration by a few dozen Americans and Burmese outside the embassy in Washington's old diplomatic district, but President Bush and other members of Congress issued statements in praise of the recipient of the 1991 Nobel.

"Her strength, courage and personal sacrifice in standing up for the oppressed people of Burma have inspired those who stand for freedom," the president said in a written statement. "The United States looks forward to the time when Burma is democratic and free."

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Democratic leader in the House, said: "All she has ever asked for is peaceful dialogue. I believe that just like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi her impact will be felt not only by this generation of Burmese, but by the people of the world for many years to come."

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, second-ranking Republican in the Senate, praised "the courage, dignity and determination of Suu Kyi and her compatriots in the face of this repression."

In his comments at the demonstration, Lantos said: "In this day and age, nothing is in shorter supply than men and women of moral authority and courage. ... Aung San Suu Kyi is among the giants of our age. She is right there with Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic and the other giants, men and women, who are prepared to sacrifice years of their lives so that their people can live in a free and open and democratic society."

He said Congress "is determined to see to it that as democracy moves ahead elsewhere, it will certainly move ahead and prevail in Burma. ... This great woman before long will occupy her rightful post as the democratically elected leader of the people of Burma, and I look forward to being there as she is sworn in as the leader of a free and democratic Burma."

When he finished, Lantos and the demonstrators joined in a chorus of "Happy Birthday."

06-18-05 17:09 EDT