Imagine spending a day alone in your home – not allowed to go out, not allowed visitors unless vetted by the state, unable to read what you want, say what you think, talk to those closest to you. What if that day was your birthday? What if that day was just another of over 7,000 days where you had been kept captive?
Aung San Suu Kyi, the most famous of over 2,000 political prisoners in Burma, celebrates her 65th birthday tomorrow, in the house in which she has been confined for nearly two decades. Through the bravery of one of her closest confidantes she has managed to deliver the world a simple message ‘please use your liberty to promote ours’.
Ms Suu Kyi’s only crime is to desire democracy and freedom for her country. As leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) she swept to victory in the 1990 elections, only for the Military Junta to overturn the result and place her under house arrest – a house within she has effectively been imprisoned ever since. Following the 2007 democracy protests the Junta have promised elections later this year, the first since 1990, however most credible opposition opponents have been arrested or exiled and the NLD has been forced to shut down. It seems that free and fair elections are still a long way off.
Desmond Tutu, Chair of ‘The Elders’ (A group of former world leaders set up by Nelson Mandela), denounced the election, saying ‘National Processes in Burma have been usurped by the military government – they do not serve the people. The elections later this year will not be any different.’ Gordon Brown, a vocal supporter of the Burmese democracy movement, told The Independent last night ‘The reason I wrote to both Aung San Suu Kyi and nelson Mandela as my final two letters as Prime Minister, was to send a message around the world that as long as she is not free then we cannot talk about a free world. And as long as Mr Mandela’s dream of universal education and eradicating poverty is unrealised, then there is no justice. It is our duty, whatever position we are in to fight for Aung San Suu Kyi to be free, and democracy to prevail.’