Saturday, June 30, 2012

Burma's plight had not been forgotten

Aung San Suu Kyi MP AC (Burmese: AungSanSuuKyi1.png; MLCTS: aung hcan: cu. krany, /ŋˌsæn.sˈ/ [2]; born 19 June 1945) is a Burmeseopposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma. In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010,[10] becoming one of the world's most prominent (now former) political prisoners.[11]
Suu Kyi received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the government of India and the International Simón Bolívar Prize from the government of Venezuela. In 2007, the Government of Canada made her an honorary citizen of that country;[12] at the time, she was one of only four people ever to receive the honor.[13] In 2011, she was awarded the Wallenberg Medal.[14]
On 1 April 2012, her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, announced that she was elected to the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of the Burmese parliament, representing the constituency of Kawhmu;[15] her party also won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the lower house.[16] The election results were confirmed by the official electoral commission the following day.[17]
Suu Kyi is the third child and only daughter of Aung San, considered to be the father of modern-day Burma.

Burmese officials have told opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to call the country by its official name, Myanmar.

The country was renamed Myanmar in 1989 by its then military rulers and the change has been widely adopted since.

But opposition groups have continued to use the old name as a sign of defiance, along with some Western governments and media organisations.

Ms Suu Kyi was freed from arrest in 2010 and elected to parliament this year amid continuing political reforms.

She is set to return from a high-profile trip to Europe, during which she referred to her country as Burma.

She also used the term Burma during a speech to the World Economic Forum in Thailand on 1 June, apparently annoying her country's military-backed civilian government.

Correspondents say the authorities may be trying assert themselves after Ms Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), was feted throughout her European tour.

In a statement published in The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, the electoral commission said: "As it is prescribed in the constitution that 'the state shall be known as The Republic of the Union of Myanmar', no one has the right to call [the country] Burma.

"It is announced that the commission... has again informed the NLD to write/address the name of the state as prescribed in the constitution... and respect the constitution."

NLD party spokesman Nyan Win responded by saying that referring to the country as Burma "does not amount to disrespecting the constitution".

The then ruling military chose to rename Burma two decades ago, arguing that the old name was a hangover from colonialism and only represented the dominant Burman ethnic group.

Etymologists and others suggest that this argument is false, as both Myanmar and Burma come from the same root - referring to the Burman ethnic group - and have been used interchangeably for centuries.

The US and UK governments still use Burma to refer to the country, as do some media organisations, including the BBC.

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 had made her feel "real again" and reassured her that Burma's plight had not been forgotten.

Speaking in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, she said Western support had contributed to changes in Burma.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi spent much of the past 24 years under house arrest in Burma. She was freed in late 2010.

She did not travel to collect the prize fearing she would not be allowed back.

Her visit to Oslo is part of a tour of Europe, her first since 1988, which she began in Geneva, at the UN's International Labour Organisation.

On Saturday, Suu Kyi will meet members of the Burmese community who are exiled and now live in Norway.
Open door

Opening the ceremony in Oslo, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, said:
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

In your isolation you have become a moral voice for the whole world”

Thorbjorn Jagland Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

"Dear Aung San Suu Kyi, we have been waiting for you for a very long time. However we are well aware that your wait has been infinitely trying for you and one entirely of a different nature from ours.

"In your isolation you have become a moral voice for the whole world."

Mr Jagland described her as "a precious gift to the world community".

In her Nobel lecture, Ms Suu Kyi said she heard she had received the prize on the radio and it had felt "unreal".

But at the same time, it had "opened a door in my heart".

"Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world," she said.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize "made me real once again. It had drawn me back into the wider human community".

And she added, the Nobel Peace Prize drew the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.

"We were not going to be forgotten."

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