Friday, June 19, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Birthday Celebration: To commemorate the struggle for democracy

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. The decision of the Nobel Committee mentions:[89]

“ The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma) for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

...Suu Kyi's struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression...

...In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means. ”

— Oslo, 14 October 1991

Last night, at about 1130pm all of us (Puspa, Farhana, Kak Lat, Sasha and I) had a meeting at Devi’s to finalize tonight’s event : Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th Birthday Celebration at Taman Jaya Lake, across Amcorp Mall at 8pm.

Some might ask, why are we celebrating Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday?

Today, 19 June 2009 marks the birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, or known as Daw Suu, a renowned political activist, fighting for democracy for Burma. Daw Suu was born in 1945 in Rangoon. Her father, Aung San founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.

In 1988, Daw Suu returned to Burma to take care of her ailing mother and by coincidence the long-time leader of the ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down, resulting in mass demonstration for democracy. Daw Suu, addressed half a million people at a amass rally in front of Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, calling for a democratic government. However, the military junta took over and later the same month, the National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed, with Daw Suu as general secretary.

In 1990, the military junta called for a general election and NLD won a landslide victory. However, the victory was annulled by the military junta as they refused to hand over power to the legitimate elected government, the NLD. Daw Suu, who were supposed to assume the office of the Prime Minister was placed under house arrest at her home in Rangoon. On May 3, 2009, an American man, identified as John William Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake to her house uninvited and was arrested when he made his return trip three days later.[50]

He had attempted to make a similar trip two years earlier, but for unknown reasons was turned away.[19] It is unknown what his motives were. On May 13, Suu Kyi was arrested for violating the terms of her house arrest because the swimmer, who pleaded exhaustion, was allowed to stay in her house for two days before he attempted the swim back. Suu Kyi was later taken to Insein Prison, where she could face up to five years confinement for the intrusion

[source : wikipedia]


Daw Suu’s struggle for democracy manifests the highest determination for the establishment of a just government, of the people, by the people, for the people. She is the closest living legend in the Asian region that one can look up to in the cause of fighting for democracy, justice and freedom. As a matter of convenience Daw Suu could easily opt for her own interest over the interest of the people she is fighting for, but that was not the case as she turned down the offer made by the military junta asking her to leave the country in exchange of her own freedom.

She could have just accepted the offer and lived a normal life somewhere on the face of the earth, but clearly her priority has always been to stand by her principles and accede to her conscience. Living in the world that gloats over modernity and resorts to "my hands are tied" defence to barbarous and draconian acts which are best visualized back in the dark ages, and living a life when somewhere along the line hope is often lost, this kind of true story indeed is inspiring.

I would like to share a quote from her famous speech “Freedom from Fear” for us to ponder upon :-

“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”.

God forbid, little that we know that our fear to speak the truth and our fear to admit to what is right and what is wrong can hold us answerable before Him. Our inaction indeed is a crime by itself.

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