Filipino solidarity activists, mostly women, under the Free Burma Coalition – Philippines (FBC-Phils) today held a rally in front of the Burma (Myanmar) embassy to welcome the release from house arrest of Burma’s democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
During the rally, activists put on masks of Aung San Suu Kyi and waved yellow chrysanthemums as a symbol of welcoming Burma’s most prominent political figure to freedom. The group even serenaded Aung San Suu Kyi with songs of freedom.
While jubilant that the Burmese military regime has finally released Aung San Suu Kyi who has been kept under house arrest for 15 of the last 20 years, the FBC-Phils quickly issued a challenge to the military junta to immediately start a genuine all-inclusive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition groups.
“We welcome the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and indeed this is a positive development for the peoples of Burma. However, the junta must assure that this move is not just a ploy to ease away the international criticisms over their recently held national elections which we see as an utterly undemocratic practice because the junta obviously maneuvered all the electoral processes,” said Egoy Bans, spokesperson of the FBC-Phils.
He added, “we challenge the junta to accept, without any excuses this time, Aung San Suu Kyi’s call for a genuine political dialogue—a political dialogue where winners of the 1990 elections and the ethnic nationalities will be given equal powers, opportunities and freedoms to articulate their demands for the achievement of national reconciliation in Burma.”
Speaking to a crowd of 40,000 supporters after her release, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pledged her commitment to the people, national reconciliation, and the rule of law. Her speech was met with applause and tears around the country.
ELECTION IS NOT THE KEY
FBC-Phils reiterated that the recently held multi-party elections, the first in 20 years, is not the key in resolving Burma’s complicated problems as there were reports of electoral fraud that include ballot-tampering, harassment, and other election-related violence.
“Truth be told, this election is just a cheap attempt to legitimize the military regime and institutionalize dictatorship in Burma, period! There is no way the junta would think about democracy or surrendering the seat of power to the civilians. Unless the junta concedes to the demands for democracy, their reign to power will be forever perceived as illegitimate,“ explained the FBC-Phils spokesperson.
The group also took the occasion to challenge the ASEAN and UN to broaden its engagement with Burma starting with a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and by pushing the ruling junta to release the remaining 2,200 political prisoners still languishing in Burma’s detention centers.
“Aung San Suu Kyi’s release now opened a new window of opportunity for the international community to further help Burma. Her release however is just one major victory in a series of struggles against a regime that doesn’t recognize human rights and rule of law. We challenge the ASEAN and UN to roll up their sleeves for more serious work,” Rasti Delizo, FBC-Phils convenor said.
Those who attended the rally were Amnesty International-Pilipinas, Bagong Kamalayan Collective, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific, Partido ng Manggagawa – PM (Workers’ Party), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) Sanlakas, Akbayan Youth, Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), Teatro Pabrika and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).
For inquiries, kindly refer to:
Gani Abunda: (+63)929-4109647,
Egoy N. Bans (+63)917-7247582
c/o Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) +632 435 2900; +632 9110205Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Release, Dialogue, Free Burma Coalition - Philippines, National Reconciliation, Philippines