Friday, May 25, 2007

Aung San Suu Kyi still under house arrest

Lest we forget, Aung San Suu Kyi, pro-democracy leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and is still under house arrest in Myanmar. The ruling military junta has just announced that her detention will be extended by yet another year. She has been under arrest 11 of the past 17 years, and more or less continuously since 30 May 2003. Regular calls for her release by past and present leaders of the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States have fallen on deaf ears. Needless to say, she is not the only victim of repression by Myanmar's anti-democratic government.
Given that calls for Suu Kyi's release have had no apparent effect for almost two decades, it is perhaps legitimate to question how much hope one should have that such efforts, on behalf of prisoners of conscience and others who have committed no recognizable crime, are worth the trouble. Do you feel silly signing one petition after another, sometimes several in a day? For a start, simply consider the fate of Suu Kyi if at least some significant part of the world's attention were not regularly focused on Myanmar. But, in addition, I think it's important to remember that every case is different. The kind of pressure that has so far been ineffectual in Myanmar could very well lead to the release of Haleh Esfandiari from Iran next month, or tomorrow. So yes, sign those petitions, write your representatives, and, where you feel especially engaged, give money.


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