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Raising voices

June 18, 2010

Burma’s so-called elections are drawing close. So is the 65th birthday of the woman who won the last elections – back in 1990 – Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been held under house arrest for nearly 15 years, and the Burmese junta seem determined to keep her locked up until well after the election.

The brutal military government do everything in its power (and in Burma, that means pretty much everything) to keep Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in, or influencing the outcome of the elections in any way.

Right now, the junta’s greatest hope is that both the Burmese people and the world at large will forget about her and the other brave activists struggling for a better Burma. We cannot let that happen.

On 14. May 2009, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested after an American swam across a lake to her home. In August, she was sentenced to another 18 months in house arrest for violation of Article 22 of the Burmese penal code, which bars her from contact with any outsiders without permission.

Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested only two weeks before her internment under house arrest was about to expire, and many see the arrest and the following sentence as a nothing more than a scheme to keep her and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), out of the upcoming elections. The junta’s new election laws also seem to have been designed with that very purpose in mind. NLD were not allowed to register for the elections without expelling Aung San Suu Kyi, as the new laws ban political prisoners from participation in a political party. Of course, NLD could not and would not abide by these rules, and, according to, the party was dissolved last month, after refusing to re-register as a political party.

The world has not forgotten

It is painfully obvious that the Burmese junta is doing all it can to box Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters into a corner. Her very existence challenges the military’s authority, and the government is desperate to silence both her, NLD and everyone and everything that inspires the Burmese people  to believe in a better future. We cannot let them succeed. Show the Burmese generals that the world has not forgotten Aung San Suu Kyi by demanding that she is immediately and unconditionally released.

In their efforts to isolate the population from independent opinions, the Burmese government is of course heavily censoring the media. However, they have not gone as far as banning radios, and activists and organizations like the Democratic Voice of Burma are able to broadcast directly into the country. Many of the 50 million inhabitants in Burma live in remote areas and don’t currently have access to radios.  Amnesty International is currently working with local organizations to distribute 4000 radios to the Burmese people before the elections.

19. June is Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday. Give her a birthday gift that will benefit the entire Burmese people: donate a radio today.

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