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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ‘free’ but for how long?

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma  •  November 13, 2010

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) welcomes the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and respects the importance of this moment, both for her, her family and for the people of Burma.

While the ending of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest is welcome, it is also fraught, as more than 2,200 other political prisoners continue to languish behind bars in Burma’s appalling prison system. It also comes just days after the first election in Burma in 20 years, an election plagued by human rights abuses, electoral fraud and armed conflict.

Unlike Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the door to freedom will not be opened wide with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, indeed, it will not even be opened a crack.

Nelson Mandela’s release came to symbolise the hope that something had finally given way and a new future for South Africa beckoned. The release of Aung San Suu Kyi is greeted with jubilation, but also suspicion and resignation. People are tired of the junta and its manipulative tricks.

“In the absence of rule of law, with the lack of an impartial judiciary and with laws that criminalise basic civil and political rights, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will continue to face the threat of re-arrest” Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of AAPP said.

Without the release of all political prisoners, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release must be seen as a public relations stunt, a means for the military regime to show a more humane side in the face of mounting international and regional pressure.

“Unfortunately, this small act of ‘kindness’ will allay the conscience of those in the international community who supported the elections but her release must not be accepted as a sign of positive change,” Bo Kyi said.

If the regime was genuinely interested in change, it would have already released Aung San Suu Kyi and the many other political and ethnic leaders well before the elections, and allowed them to freely participate in the political process.

The release of Daw Suu must be unconditional. “She must be free to participate in politics, free to travel, free to associate and free to speak. Without these freedoms Daw Aung San Suu will not be truly free,” said Bo Kyi.

The elections held last Sunday will not shepherd in even a semblance of democracy. The same people, who in the past have committed grave human rights violations, will continue to do so in the future, but now protected indefinitely under a Constitution that enshrines impunity.

Some of those guilty of masterminding the 2003 Depayin massacre, an attempt on Daw Suu’s life, which left 70 of her supporters dead, will be ‘elected’ Members of Parliament.

“Depayin serves as a reminder of both her fragility and her bravery. Refusing to back down in the face of violent opposition, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s unwavering commitment to a peaceful and democratic Burma ensures her popularity and cements her position as the military junta’s single greatest threat,” Bo Kyi said.

More information:

Tate Naing (Secretary):    +66 (0) 81 287 8751
Bo Kyi (Joint Secretary):   +66 (0) 81 962 8713

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