To mark Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th birthday today, a string of Malaysian civil society groups has issued a demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the freedom fighter and all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Burma.
After achieving its independence from the British in 1948, Burma was ruled by a democratically elected government until the 1962 army coup.
Finally, the military junta agreed to hold elections in 1990, and return Burma to a parliamentary democracy. But the run-up to the elections inspired little confidence in the process. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the most popular opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was placed under house arrest in July 1989. Many other senior NLD officials were jailed. The NLD had little access to media and few resources compared to the military-backed National Unity Party (NUP).
On 27 May 1990, the election results revealed that out of the 485 parliamentary seats contested, the NLD won 392 (over 80 per cent). Ethnic minority parties opposed to the military junta won 65 more seats. The military-backed NUP only won 10 seats. It was clear indication that peoples of Burma rejected military rule.
The military junta’s response to this overwhelming defeat was simply to change the rules, and not hand over power to the duly elected Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD. Repression intensified, and many NLD and other elected representatives were arrested. Some have died in prison. Others fled into exile. Today, in Malaysia, it is estimated that there may be more than 500,000 Burmese undocumented migrants,
We call for the immediate handing over of power from the military regime to the duly elected Aung San Suu Kyi and the elected representatives.
We reiterate our call for the immediate discontinuation of the trial, and withdrawal of the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi who has been absurdly charged and is now being tried for the offence of breaking the terms of her house arrest, in particular the condition that forbids visitors, after an American man swam across the lake and entered her house uninvited and refused to leave.
We call for Asean and Asean member governments to immediately intervene and urge the government of Burma to respect human rights, and to adhere to the numerous United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly Resolution 49/197 , which, amongst others, “…call on the Government of Myanmar to release unconditionally and immediately the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now in her sixth year of detention without trial, and other political leaders and remaining political prisoners…’
We also call on the United Nations, the European Union and all concerned nations to act for the immediate withdrawal of this absurd charge, to secure the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees and to restore democracy and human rights to Burma and its peoples.
Lastly, and most importantly, we wish Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Happy Birthday, and wish for her and the peoples of Burma the strength and the continued commitment to struggle for a better Burma, where human rights, justice and democracy exist.
for and on behalf of the following 20 organisations:
- Bar Council Human Rights Committee
- Burma Campaign, Malaysia
- Community Development Services, Sri Lanka
- Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), Philippines
- Empower Foundation, Thailand
- Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), Thailand
- Friends of Burma, Malaysia
- Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
- MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)
- MAP Foundation, Thailand
- Mekong Ecumenical Partnership Program, Christian Conference of Asia(MEPP)
- Myanmar Refugee Volunteer Group (MRVG)
- National League for Democracy (NLD),LA, Malaysia
- Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
- Society for Christian Reflection (SCR)
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
- Tenaganita, Malaysia
- Women’s Studies Center,Thailand
- Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)