Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the 63rd Birthday of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
U.S. Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the 63rd birthday of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma:
"The 63rd birthday today of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma offers an opportunity to remind the world community of the continuing tragedy in her country and the responsibility we have to press for change there.
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of Burma's 1988 democracy movement and of Daw Suu's emergence as its inspirational leader. She has sacrificed family and ultimately her freedom to remain true to her people and the cause of liberty. And she has done so using the tools of nonviolent resistance in the great tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, earning the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
"Since her last birthday, the world has watched in horror as Burma's ruling junta first crushed the "Saffron Revolution," gunning down and rounding up Buddhist monks and other Burmese citizens peacefully demonstrating for political reform and social justice, and then, last month, resisted and impeded international provision of critical assistance to millions of Burma's people in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis. Tens of thousands died from the immediate impact of the cyclone itself, and at least 2.4 million people, 40 percent of them children, remain homeless and in desperate need of assistance.
"For decades, the junta has overseen the continued deterioration of living standards, basic human rights, and general well-being of the Burmese people. Two million refugees, thousands of political prisoners in Burma's jails, and the retreat of the junta's leaders themselves to an Orwellian capital cut off from its people are further testament to the alienation and devastation that Burma's current leaders have brought upon their nation.
"This situation offends the conscience of the American people, as it does for millions of others around the world. If the junta continues its failure to protect the dignity, health and well-being of the Burmese people, the international community must be prepared to work harder toward effective coordinated action, including but not limited to action through the United Nations Security Council.
"Aung San Suu Kyi will spend her birthday the way she has spent 13 of the past 19 birthdays, under house arrest. Nonetheless, she continues to serve as a consistent manifestation of hope even as hope has been on the retreat in Burma. As we honor Daw Suu today, we must do so the way she would want it done: by honoring the people of Burma, and keeping faith with them in their struggle for freedom, justice, and democracy."