CHRD Warmly Congratulates Burmese Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Her Return to Freedom

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Editor’s note: The following is a translation of a statement released in Chinese by CHRD on November 14, 2010. For the original text, please see:

According to media reports, leader of the Burmese democracy movement and General Secretary of the National League of Democracy Party Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest on November 13. CHRD wishes to offer our warmest congratulations!

Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned sixty-five this year, has been placed under house arrest on three occasions since July 1989. She has spent 15 of the past 21 years in prison or confined to her home, turning her residence on the shores of Yangon’s Inya Lake into her own personal Robben Island.

Born in 1945, Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burmese national hero General Aung San. In 1964, she entered St Hugh’s College at Oxford, where she graduated in 1967 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After graduating, she lived for a brief period of time in New York City and worked for the United Nations as Assistant Secretary for the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. She returned to Burma to care for her mother, who had suffered a severe stroke, in March 1988. Shortly thereafter, she became involved in the democracy movement, and traveled the country speaking out against the military junta’s rule. Deeply influenced by the experience of Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi advocated nonviolent resistance as the primary means of advancing the cause of democracy. Her gracious and learned disposition, combined with her fearless and heroic character, earned her the love and respect of the Burmese people.

After being placed under house arrest by the junta in July 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi resolutely refused the opportunity to go into exile, demanding instead that she be granted her freedom in Burma. Under heavy international pressure, the military held a general election in 1990, which the National League of Democracy Party won by an overwhelming margin. Shocked and threatened by the outcome, the junta declared the party illegal and refused to recognize the results of the election. For the next 21 years, Aung San Suu Kyi would be detained, then released, only to be detained again, if not in prison, then in her home.

In 1990 Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Sakharov human rights prize by the European Parliament, and in 1991 she was given the Nobel Peace Prize, which her sons accepted on her behalf at the ceremony in Oslo. The prize money associated with the Nobel Peace Prize remains in the care of the Nobel Committee to this date.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s steadfast dedication to the cause of democracy despite overwhelming pressure from the junta continues to inspire not only her countrymen and women but all those living under the specter of authoritarian rule in Asia and around the globe.

CHRD would like to take the opportunity presented by Aung San Suu Kyi’s release to reiterate our demand that the Chinese government release her fellow Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) and all other Chinese prisoners of conscience. We hope that the Chinese government will respect the ideals espoused by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and begin instituting political reforms so that all Chinese citizens may participate in the democratic election of their leaders.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders

November 14, 2010

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