We wish to use this opportunity, on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s 60th birthday, to reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Burma and their legitimate struggle for democracy, human rights and civilian rule.
Our sister Laureate has spent almost 15 years under house arrest. Her determination and courage inspire us. We offer to her our heartfelt congratulations on this auspicious day.
Many of us have witnessed sweeping political changes in our own countries. We know that change will come to Burma, too. The illegal military junta that rules through force and fear will yield to the power of justice. The people of Burma will control their destiny again. But we also know from experience that tyranny does not crumble by itself. Freedom must be demanded and defended, by those who have been denied it and by those who are already free.
Many people and nations around the world have seen the suffering in Burma and looked for a way to help. The best way to do so is to stand with the people of Burma, not with the regime that is the cause of their suffering. We call upon the international community to maintain pressure against Burma’s military junta. We applaud those countries that have imposed sanctions to deny the regime the wealth it craves to sustain itself. Such measures accord with the wishes of the National League for Democracy and the ethnic nationalities, who suffer egregious human rights abuses, including torture, arrest, forced labor, force relocation, and rape. They remind Burma’s military leaders that they cannot reconcile with the world until they reconcile with their own people.
With its extraordinary human and natural resources, Burma will one day be a leader in its region. But that day cannot come until Burma has a government that truly speaks for its people. We encourage those countries in Southeast Asia that have begun a campaign to deny Burma’s military regime leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2006. Burma was admitted to ASEAN to lift its people up, not to drag the organization down.
All should join in urging the Burmese government to release, immediately and unconditionally, the nearly 1,500 political prisoners it holds, to end its brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the minority peoples of Burma, and to begin a transition to genuine democracy. That is the only hope for Burma’s future, and the only outcome Burma’s friends in the world should accept.
Dr. Wangari Maathai – (2004)
Shirin Ebadi – (2003)
John Hume – (1998)
David Trimble – (1998)
Jody Williams – International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)
Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo – (1996)
Prof. Joseph Rotblat – (1995)
Rigoberta Mench Tum – (1992)
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – (1989)
Prof. Elie Wiesel – (1986)
Bishop Desmond Tutu – (1984)
Adolfo Perez Esquivel – (1980)
Betty Williams – (1976)
Mairead Corrigan – (1976)