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Suu Kyi sends birthday message to India

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has used a birthday message to reach out to Indians, particularly women, to campaign for a Burma ‘free from fear’.

asskIn a short video released to coincide with her 66th birthday on 19 June, Suu Kyi said India had a very special place in her heart, and she noted the important friendships she has with Indian women. The video will be shown at the function jointly organized by Burmese democracy activists and MANUSHI women magazine, in New Delhi on Sunday to celebrate her birthday.

‘I am happy you remember me’, she said, referring to the meetings and parties to be held to celebrate her birthday, but she said she hoped people would remember ‘all the people of Burma’ and called on all those who campaign for human rights and democracy to rally to the cause.

The call comes one day before a high level Indian official is due to make a visit to Rangoon for talks with the government and possibly Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi, who was released from lengthy house arrest last November, called on people in India to remember the political prisoners in Burma, who she said number more than 2,000, and who live under ‘very, very harassing conditions’, calling for them to be released.

The release of political prisoners was the real test of a democracy, she noted, referring to the November 2010 elections that brought in an elected government now under the leadership of President Thein Sein, a former army general. Critics claim the elections and the new government is merely a front for the generals who have run Burma with a tough hand for decades.

The pro-democracy leader said Burma and India, which share a border, had a long history of friendship. In particular, she called on women to be the movers and creators to help bring about change.

Each birthday provides an opportunity to look back at the progress that has been made toward democracy in Burma, she said. Much has been achieved but more has to be done.

‘I hope you will help’, she said in the video.

She called on people to help free the political prisoners, and bring an end to human rights abuse, to provide the Burmese people with a future ‘free from fear’.

According to media reports, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna will visit Burma for a two-day visit, arriving Monday, and he is likely to meet with Suu Kyi. Sources said Krishna has expressed a desire to meet Suu Kyi and a formal request for the meeting has been sent to the authorities in Naypyitaw through diplomatic channels.

If the meeting between Krishna and Suu Kyi takes place, it will be India’s first high-level contact with the Burmese opposition leader after more than two decades.

Suu Kyi is said to share a deep bond with India, having studied there in the 1960s, and she has drawn inspiration from India’s freedom struggle from British colonial rule and is said to be a follower of Gandhian nonviolence. Suu Kyi is a recipient of the 2009 Mahatma Gandhi Peace award and the 1993 Jawaharlal Nehru award for International Understanding. She is reported to have said that she would like to see India live up to its reputation as the world’s largest democracy.

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 June 2011 16:03 )  

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