Prisoner of Conscience

Posted on May 15, 2009

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[This blog has a new domain: http://philippineaffairs.com/]

The ruling military junta of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has again found a flimsy reason to extend the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. She is supposed to be released this May 27 after almost two decades of house arrest but a weird incidence transpired that prompted the military junta to charge her of violating the provisions of her detention. It was the foolish misadventure of an American, John William Yettaw, that provided another obstacle for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. She is now facing another five years of imprisonment. As if the 19 years of being a government hostage in her own home was not enough. It was not a vacation at all. She was forcefully separated from her husband and children. She was not even present when her husband died from cancer.

The move of charging her of violating the terms of her house arrest is clearly another dirty political tactic to prevent Suu Kyi from participating in the scheduled general elections in her country next year. She continues to be a threat to the despotic and unjust rule of the military junta. Depriving her of her victory in 1990 was not enough to silence her. She remains to be the legitimate head of state and head of the government as prime minister-elect although she never took power. As recognition of her efforts to gain democracy, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 which she was unable to personally receive because of her detention. She was the only recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who was unable to attend because of imprisonment. Her son received the prize on her behalf. She used the US$ 1.3 million to establish a health and education trust fund for the Burmese people. These are basic social services that are hardly provided by the government because of ruined national economy. Myanmar is among the poorest countries in the world that the United Nations has given it a Least Developed Country status.

Politically speaking, Aung San Suu Kyi is not as fortunate as former-President Cory Aquino. Although she has the support of the international community with regard to the legitimacy of her 1990 victory, no successful “people power” revolution ever materialized to backup  Suu Kyi’s claim to victory. She was always the peace advocate and she probably never wanted to encourage risky mass demonstrations against the junta.  What she is experiencing right now is more akin to the suffering of Ninoy Aquino, Mohadas Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. She is a prisoner of conscience. Does she need to become a martyr before the illegitimate rulers of Burma relinquish power? She has suffered enough but like Ninoy, she is also willing to sacrifice her life for the freedom of her people. If the Burmese 2010 general elections has to have any semblance of credibility, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party must be allowed to participate.

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