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30 September – 3 October: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Release is Not an Olive Branch

October 4, 2010

Rumours circulated this week about the possible release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, days after the elections. Her latest term of house arrest is set to expire on 13 November.

Agence France-Presse reported that an SPDC official declared, “November will be an important and busy month for us because of the election and because of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.” Another official said, “She will be released on that day according to the law.”

However, as we have seen repeatedly in the past, particularly with the regime’s disregard for the election laws, the SPDC only acts according to the law when it suits their needs. While we want to see Daw Suu free from house arrest immediately, her release notably raises three key issues.

Firstly, the regime does not always live up to their words. As Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, said, “We hope this report is correct, but regime officials have said similar things in the past and Aung San Suu Kyi has remained in detention. We’ll believe it when we see it.” Time and time again, the regime has proved that the rule of law does not apply to the SPDC and its cronies, and rather exists to exploit, oppress and restrict political opposition.

Secondly, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release date has been known since her sentencing in August 2009. The fact that the regime plans to release the democracy leader following the conclusion of her sentence does not, and should not be represented as a concession. Rather, the fact that the regime extended her sentence by 18 months following the John Yettaw incident further demonstrates their desire to sideline Daw Suu and the NLD from the elections.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Daw Suu’s release date is set to be six days after Burma’s elections. When the regime announced the date of the elections, many noted that the selection of that date was a deliberate attempt to exclude the leader from participating in the elections.

Indeed, the regime is well aware that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi continues to present a genuine threat to the regime’s hold on power. U Win Tin, a leader of the National League for Democracy, said that once Daw Suu is released, she plans to travel around the country to educate the public about democracy. “The political awakening will be high again in the public once “Daw” Suu is released,” said U Win Tin.

Activists around the world have called for the international community to not regard Daw Suu’s release as an olive branch, or a positive gesture that warrants relaxing international pressure on the regime. Releasing Daw Suu will not make up for the fact that she, the National League for Democracy, other democratic parties and over 2, 100 political prisoners have been excluded from the election process.

If or when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is released, the international community must maintain pressure on the regime to engage with her, democracy groups and ethnic representatives in inclusive dialogue. Daw Suu, ethnic leaders such as Khun Htun Oo, and all political prisoners must be released unconditionally for genuine democratic transition to begin in Burma.

News Highlights

NLD marks 22nd anniversary under tight police surveillance, vows to continue fighting for democracy

Exiled Burmese news sites Irrawaddy, Mizzima and DVB attacked by hackers on the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution

Inside Burma

Censors bar media inside Burma from reporting on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s name being included on the list of voters

NDF leader urges citizens to get involved, says that ‘people who neglect to vote in the upcoming election are committing a political crime’

Mon monk given sentence of 15 years in Insein prison for “anti-election” activities; Sittwe district court sentences Arakanese historian monk to 8 years and three months

All Burma Federation of Student Unions condemns the unlawful arrest of six student activists who urged the public to boycott the elections

Prime Minister Thein Sein warns citizens to protect Burma’s image and to prevent anyone from derailing the elections

USDP candidates use Cyclone Nargis rehabilitation projects in the Irrawaddy delta to campaign for the elections; Locals criticize opening of new hospital as a charade

SPDC backs candidates who are prominent drug traffickers

Township SPDC official forces villagers in Karenni State to give money for election fund

Residents in Shan State North’s Muse Township are being threatened with imprisonment if they don’t vote for the USDP

People avoid attending election rallies of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party after authorities started intimidating people

Politician accuses Arakan State Election Commission of abusing election laws by allowing USDP to campaign in religious buildings

SPDC office in Hakha, Chin State, to be used as the State Assembly office

KIA fires warning shots at SPDC military helicopter

SPDC Army clashes with Shan State Army ‘North’ for third time in the last 15 days; Four killed in clash with Karen National Liberation Army in Karen State across the border from Three Pagodas Pass

Pegu Ward Peace and Development Council chairman’s office bombed; State-run media blames “political opportunists” trying to disrupt the elections


Senior General Than Shwe visits Laos

Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to visit Burma on 11 October

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is planning to launch a program to repatriate refugees and intellectuals from Burma after the elections

UNHCR-affiliated organizations accused of selling resettlement registrations to refugees in Malaysia


UN Group of Friends says that the elections in Burma will not be credible unless Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is released

SPDC Foreign Minister Nyan Win rejects international criticism of the elections, insists at the UN General Assembly that the junta is committed to a “free and fair” vote

Japan welcomes 18 Burmese refugees as part of its agreement with the UN to accept about 90 refugees

Latest from the Blog

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Open letter to H.E. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy vice-President of the European Commission
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U.S. Members of Congress Condemn the Burmese Regime’s Undemocratic Upcoming Elections on November 7, 2010
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The SPDC’s crimes continue: A UN Commission of Inquiry is still needed to protect Burma’s people
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Week 29: 2010 Election Watch (21-27 September)
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September 2010 Burma Bulletin
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Burma Briefing No. 4: The European Union and Burma
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Weekly Political Events Regarding the SPDC’s Election (036-2010) (in Burmese)
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Weekly Political Events Regarding the SPDC’s Election (035-2010) (in English)
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This post is in: Weekly Highlights

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