Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Suu Kyi Celebrates Independence Day with MusicSuu Kyi Celebrates Independence Day with Music

January 5, 2009

On Independence Day this year, Burma's detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has chosen not to stay quiet behind the locked gates of her home where she is under house arrest.

Members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said they heard old songs, popular in the pre-independence era, playing in her home.

On Sunday, Burma marked the 61st anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1948.

Suu Kyi has also put up a new red banner, which can be viewed from the street, with words in yellow quoting her father, independence hero Gen Aung San: ''Act decisively in the interest of the nation and the people."

The NLD, in a ceremony at its headquarter in Rangoon attended by 300 people, including veteran politicians and diplomats, called for the release of Suu Kyi, who has been detained for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

On December 30, nine NLD members were arrested when they staged a protest in Rangoon calling for her release. A commentary in the recent issue of the Weekly Eleven journal says the junta will charge those arrested "according to the law."

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, said Burmese authorities still have not replied to his request to meet with the detained opposition leader to discuss her appeal against her continued detention. But Suu Kyi was allowed a visit by her personal doctor, Tin Myo Win, on January 1 and she was in good health.

Suu Kyi’s latest five-year term of house arrest was extended in May for a further year—illegally, according to Kyi Win, because Article 10 (b) of the Burmese State Protection Law 1975 stipulates that a person judged to be a "threat to the sovereignty and security of the State and the peace of the people" can only be detained for up to five years.

Meanwhile, junta ministers, and about 3,000 government employees and senior officials, attended the official Independence Day ceremony and military parade in Naypyidaw. Junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe did not attend.

However, in his official speech, read at the gathering, Than Shwe accused "neo-colonialists"—normally a reference to the Western countries led by the US—of interfering in Burma’s affairs.

"They are using some international organizations to gain support for their schemes and driving a wedge among national people and inciting riots to undermine national unity, peace and the stability of the nation," he said.

In December, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on Burma to free all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi.

The resolution also voiced concern over the junta’s so-called "seven-step roadmap" to democracy, including the planned general election in 2010, noting the failure of the regime to include other political parties, members of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, and representatives of ethnic political organizations in the process.

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