Friday, June 19, 2009

Whys and Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

Several “whys” woke me up this morning on the 64th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, who would wake up this morning to the sounds of prisoners’ iron shackles and the harsh shouts of wardens in the Insein Prison compound.

The first “why” was: Why have the powerful Burmese generals who control 400,000 soldiers detained Suu Kyi for more than 13 of the past 19 years?

The answer is simple. They are afraid of the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who now represents democracy to people not only in Burma but around the world.

Though she has been mentally and physically held down by the junta since 1988 when she dedicated her life to restore democracy in Burma, Suu Kyi has proved how strong, resilient and durable she is. Recently, she has even become more threatening to the generals.

Why are they so afraid?

Basically, she represents the truth. “Truth is a powerful weapon,” she said once. “And truth—like anything that is powerful—can be frightening or reassuring, depending on which side you are on.”

“If you’re on the side of truth, it’s very reassuring—you have its protection. But if you’re on the side of untruth—then it’s very frightening,” she said in the book The Voice of Hope, based mainly on interviews with her after her release from her first house arrest in 1995,

The junta is on the side of untruth. One of its big lies was the 1990 election, the results of which were simply discarded by the generals after Suu Kyi’s party, National League for Democracy, won by a landslide. The people gave her a huge mandate which, in the junta’s eyes, was something to fear.

The generals broke their promise after the election to convene a people’s assembly and hand over power to the winner. Voters will never forget that lie.

Why is she so respected as a leader?

She has practiced what she believes even when dealing with one of the most cruel and cunning regimes in the world: “Honesty is the best policy.” To that, however, some detractors say, “She is saint, but not politician.”

Suu Kyi once said: “Political integrity means just plain honesty in politics. One of the most important things is never to deceive the people. Any politician who deceives the people either for the sake of his party or because he imagines it’s for the sake of people, is lacking in political integrity.”

Even after the brutal treatment of the past 21 years, she still applies that policy of “honesty,” and her dedication and conviction to restore democracy has never wavered.

Her words have touched the Burmese people, and her actions have impressed them, proving to the people she is a true leader.

Why is she still relevant, even though she has been forced off-stage in terms of political activity?

Even during her trial, which was called “an absurd mockery of justice” by Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown, she again raised the issue of national reconciliation which is the only way to bring about peaceful change in the country.

“There could be many opportunities for national reconciliation if all parties so wished,” she told diplomats she met in Insein Prison in May. “It was not too late for something good to come out of this unfortunate incident.”

Obviously, what she said showed that she has been thinking of the development of the country. When she got an opportunity to make an important point, she used it.

She first began calling for dialogue soon after she became active in politics in 1988. The international community unanimously supports dialogue, but the junta is deaf.

Many people in Burma believe that she is the only capable and trustworthy leader who can deal with the generals in a national reconciliation process. Not only that, she is the best person to reconcile with the diverse ethnic groups and reform economic and development policies, and she is a leader who can deal with regional and world leaders.

The last “why” was: Why has the international community taken so long to obtain her freedom?

That is a big question. There are several factors, such as the world has never been united when it comes to a Burma policy. Also, in the past two decades, many world leaders have become inured to the phrase “Free Suu Kyi” and failed to take action.

Gordon Brown renewed the call for the world to act in his article on her birthday. He noted three points: “I have been struck by how Burma’s neighbors have led the world community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. We need to translate this outrage into ongoing political pressure for change.”

Also, he said, “We need the UN Security Council to reinforce its calls for Suu Kyi’s release and to support the secretary-general’s efforts to bring about political progress through an early visit to Burma.”

He continued, “We should impose a new set of tough sanctions that target the regime’s economic interests. We will be pushing for stronger European Union action in that regard. Such a step would hit the business interests of the generals and their cronies.”

Brown’s points have all been repeated many times, which shows that the world has been good at talking about what to do, but lacking in achieving results.

Today is Suu Kyi 64th birthday, and the leaders of the world, including Brown, have again called for her immediate release and suggested many ways to deal with the regime.

But, again, we’ll have to wait and see. We will know if the world has succeeded in taking effective actions to win her freedom by her next birthday in 2010.

READ MORE---> Whys and Suu Kyi...

Pro-junta rights group rejects UN rights experts’ view of Suu Kyi’s trial

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A human rights group, believed to be pro Burmese junta, has rejected the statement of five United Nations Independent Rights expert’s regarding the trial of Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi saying the trial is being conducted in keeping with international and domestic laws.

The Myanmar Human Rights Group, a largely unknown entity, on Thursday issued a statement, which was published by the junta’s mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, condemning the UN experts for issuing a statement that said the trial so far is not open and fair.

On June 16, five UN human rights experts issued a statement urging the Burmese regime to hold an “open and fair” trial of the Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, her two live-in party mates, and the American John William Yettaw.

In the statement, Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers said, “So far, the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi and her aides has been marred by flagrant violations of substantive and procedural rights.”

Joining Despouy were four other rights experts - Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrilo; the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human rights in Myanmar, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana; the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human rights Defenders, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya; and the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr. Frank La Rue.

But the Myanmar Human Rights Group, in its statement, said the Burmese authorities are conducting a trial against Mr. Yettaw, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her two aides in keeping with international standards and domestic laws.

And “it is regretful to learn that five UN human rights Special Rapporteurs issued a statement misleadingly on 16 June 2009,” the statement said.

The group further said the trial is being conducted fairly with the accused allowed to hire defence lawyers of their choice. An United States Consulate officer and the local assistant were allowed to observe the court proceedings.

Besides, the group said, though the trial is being conducted in a special court inside the Insein prison compound because of security reasons, diplomats and journalists were also allowed to observe every major court proceeding.

“The politicization under the pretext of human rights of the action being taken against those offenders in accordance with the existing laws of the State is unacceptable, and the statement by those Special Rapporteurs is hereby rejected,” the group said.

During the trial of Burmese pro-democracy leader, which began on May 18, authorities twice allowed diplomats and journalists to enter the court room and observe the proceedings.

While allowing 14 prosecution witnesses to testify, the court disqualified three of the four witnesses that the defence wanted to produce, allowing only one witness to testify.

At the request of the defence team, the divisional court, (a higher court), later revised the order and allowed another witness but continued to bar the other two – Win Tin, a veteran journalist and NLD’s executive committee member and the NLD’s vice-chairman Tin Oo, who is also under house arrest.

JEG's Comment:
World Human Rights refer to ALL humans on earth
whilst Myanmar Human Rights
refer to the rights of the criminals in charge of Burma

READ MORE---> Pro-junta rights group rejects UN rights experts’ view of Suu Kyi’s trial...

Two year sentence handed down to Rangoon journalist - Zaw Tun

By Myo Thein

Rangoon (Mizzima) – The Bahan Township Court has sentenced the former chief reporter of the The News Watch journal, Zaw Tun, to two years imprisonment.

The court yesterday sentenced Zaw Tun (34), of No. 32 Ward, North Dagon Satellite Township, with obstructing a public servant in the discharging of his duty.

A security officer found Zaw Tun near Aung San Suu Kyi’s house last September and arrested him following questioning.

Suu Kyi, who today turns 64, is currently being held in Insein prison while standing trial after being accused of breaching the terms of her former period of detention.

Zaw Tun, who had been freed on bail following his arrest, learned of his sentencing during yesterday's court proceedings.

According to sources in the Home Ministry, Zaw Tun was serving as The News Watch's chief reporter at that time he allegedly responded impolitely to police questions regarding his reasons for being in the vicinity of Suu Kyi's compound.

A local journalist friend of Zaw Tun's says the imprisoned reporter is a charming and sociable character with many friends, and proud to be a journalist.

Zaw Tun resigned from The News Watch at the beginning of this year and has since been working as a freelance journalist.

READ MORE---> Two year sentence handed down to Rangoon journalist - Zaw Tun...

Activists marking Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday arrested

by Mungpi

New Delhi (mizzima news) – Thirty-one Burmese activists were detained on Friday by Delhi police for holding a demonstration in front of the Burmese Embassy marking the 64th birthday of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Prior to their detention, activists submitted a memorandum signed by 27,400 Indian and Burmese supporters calling for the release of Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma.

Demonstrators also held a small birthday celebration for the pro-democracy leader by lighting 64 candles, cutting cakes and singing birthday songs in front of the Embassy. Posters and placards reading “Happy Birthday”, “Long Live Aung San Suu Kyi” and “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” were also prominently displayed.

“We submitted a memorandum to the Embassy along with 27,400 supporting signatures collected since March,” Salong, one of the protestors, told Mizzima while under detention at the Chanakya Police Station.

The protest, which lasted for a brief 15 minutes, was shut down after police from the nearby Chanakya station came and took away the protesters.

“We were informed by our police control room, which received calls from the Burmese Embassy informing them of the demonstration in front of their office,” a Chanakya police officer told Mizzima.

“We have arrested 31 Burmese people as they were demonstrating at a restricted area. We are registering their names and will soon release them,” said the officer, adding that there were no other legal problems concerning the protesters.

The protest in front of the Burmese Embassy in New Delhi is a part a global campaign for the release of the Burmese democracy icon on her 64th birthday, which she will be spending in solitary confinement in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

A separate demonstration led by the Women’s League of Burma (WLB), an umbrella Burmese women organization, was also held today along New Delhi’s Parliament Street in commemoration of Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th birthday.

The protestors, including women and children, came mostly attired in yellow in recognition of the sacrifices Suu Kyi has made in fighting for freedom and democracy in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 of the past 19 years in solitary confinement and just before completing her latest period of confinement was charged for violating her the terms of her detention for which she is currently facing trial in a special court inside Insein Prison.

The charges and trial against her have sparked international outcry and condemnation, with activists, world leaders and celebrities all lending their voices in opposition to the actions of Burma's military rulers.

Campaigners across the globe set Friday, June 19th, the birth date of Aung San Suu Kyi, as a time to demostrate worldwide solidarity for the plight of Burma's opposition leader. Activities across the globe range from protests to solidarity concerts.

Meanwhile, in Rangoon, Burma’s former capital and commercial hub, the occasion of Suu Kyi's 64th birthday went largely unremarked upon except for a few activists at the National League for Democracy office who held a small celebration for their detained party leader.

READ MORE---> Activists marking Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday arrested...

Political prisoners moved to Insein’s dog quarters

(DVB)–Around 20 political prisoners in Rangoon’s Insein prison have been placed in detention inside the prison’s canine quarters, according to the wife of one of the inmates.

Conditions in Burma’s prisons are often dire, with particularly bad punishments meted out to high-profile political prisoners.

Many well-known imprisoned activists and opposition members are in poor health and are often denied healthcare, with the situation compounded by the frequent barring of family visits.

“My husband is now in the dog ward and he said he didn’t know why the prison officials did that,” said the wife of political inmate Sit Yan Naing, who was arrested in 2007 for allegedly carrying explosives in his fishing boat and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

“There are other people with him and also none of them seemed to know why they were there,” she said, adding that a prison warden at the canine unit had told her he didn’t know why either.

Meanwhile, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party was arrested on Wednesday after taking photographs and video footage documenting a water shortage problem in his town.

Myat Myat Mon, the wife of NLD member Lay Lwin, said that she and her husband were taken from their house to South Dagon’s Township Peace and Development Council office by township officials and police on Wednesday afternoon, and he has not returned since.

“My husband told them he didn’t do it but [township chairman Hla Win] threatened to beat him up and said they would sue him anyway with any means possible,” she said.

The sister of Myat Myat Mon said that his whereabouts were unknown.

“We heard a clerk in that office saying something like he was transferred to a government interrogation camp so we are so worried for him,” she said.

Reporting by Aye Nai and Naw Say Phaw

READ MORE---> Political prisoners moved to Insein’s dog quarters...

Loss of Karen bases a ‘strategic’ move by KNU

(DVB)–The Burmese army is increasingly susceptible to ambushes from the Karen National Union following the overthrow of a number of Karen bases in recent days, says the Union’s joint-secretary.

The offensive between the Burmese army, backed by Karen splinter group the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), and the Karen National Union (KNU), has been raging since 2 June.

Thousands of Karen villagers have fled to Thailand to escape the crossfire and reported forced recruitment into the army.

The KNU has admitted to the loss of three bases to Burmese troops in recent days, although said yesterday that the move was partly tactical.

A base located near to the grave of the late KNU leader, General Mya, was overtaken by the Burmese army last week.

“We opened that spot [for SPDC troops to enter] about three to four days ago and maybe they will arrive today,” said Saw Hla Ngwe.

“That place is a good target for artillery firing and we can ambush them when they enter.”

He added that the offensive was being used by the government to distract attention from the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi and a warning to ceasefire groups who are failing to comply with government requests to transform in border patrol militias.

So far around 4000 Karen refugees have arrived in Thailand, with many reporting instances of forced recruitment into the army either as porters or to act as minesweepers.

The UN has sent staff to the area to assess the fallout of a conflict that has attracted international attention.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

READ MORE---> Loss of Karen bases a ‘strategic’ move by KNU...

Four Democracy Activists Complete Prison Terms

Taungup (Narinjara): Four democracy activists were released from Buthidaung prison recently after serving their prison terms, said a colleague of them.

"They were released from Buthidaung prison recently after their sentences were completed. Now they have returned back to their home town from Buthidaung," he said.

The released activists are Ko Than Htay, Ko Moe Kyaw, Ko Zaw Naing, and Ko Aung Naing Min. All are from Taungup in southern Arakan State.

The four were arrested by Burmese military authorities on 27 March, 2008, while they were publicly distributing a statement from the National League for Democracy and a pamphlet with the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They were charged by police in the Taungup court under a section of Act 451, which relates to a person trespassing on property without permission from the owner.

The judge in Taungup Township sentenced them to one year in prison without allowing a defense, and sent them to the notorious prison in Buthidaung in northern Arakan.

Even though they were released after their jail term was complete, they have not dared to have contact with the media because the authority has threatened them about disclosing information about the prison to the media.

"They had a bitter experience in the Buthidaung prison but they have to keep it to themselves because the military authorities threatened them if they disclose anything regarding the prison to the media," the colleague said.

In Buthidaung prison, the prison authorities regularly abuse prisoners' rights and sometimes torture the political prisoners when they refuse to follow any prison regulations.

An army major came to the prison just before their release and instructed them not to participate in political activities in the future and advised them to live with their families peacefully.

The major also told them not to disclose anything about the prison or what happened to them during their time there to the outside media, the source added.

READ MORE---> Four Democracy Activists Complete Prison Terms...

Australia calls for Suu Kyi's release

(The Age) -Australia is using the occasion of Aung Sang Suu Kyi's birthday to again call for the Burmese pro-democracy leader's release.

It was part of a global chorus calling for the 64-year-old to be given her freedom after spending 13 of the last 19 years detained by the Burmese military regime.

She has been in and out of detention after the junta refused to recognise her National League for Democracy's (NLD) landslide victory elections in 1990.

The Nobel laureate is spending her birthday on Friday at Rangoon's notorious Insein prison, where she is being held on charges of violating her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside house.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith reiterated Australia's "grave concern" about Ms Suu Kyi's treatment at the hands of the Burmese junta.

"The Australian government calls again for her immediate and unconditional release, and the release of the more than 2,000 other political prisoners in Burma," he said in a statement.

"This would be a first step towards meaningful change in Burma, and towards ending Burma's isolation.

"Australia stands with Aung San Suu Kyi and hopes she will celebrate her next birthday in freedom."

Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, celebrities Madonna and David Beckham joined with others around the globe urging the Burmese junta to give her freedom.

Many posted online messages on social networking sites and videos on YouTube in what human rights groups called an unprecedented and enormously powerful tool to harness support for Ms Suu Kyi.

Mr Smith said Ms Suu Kyi's arrest and current trial under the oppressive state protection law "give every appearance of being a device to extend her detention".

"The Australian Government and the international community will continue to watch closely and urge the regime to drop its spurious charges," he said.

READ MORE---> Australia calls for Suu Kyi's release...

At 64, Aung San Suu Kyi is still relevant

(Asia News Net - The Nation) - The widespread international support for Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not come into being in a blink. She has been under house arrest by the heartless military junta in Rangoon for the past 13 years. Yet her determination and conviction remain unchanged, making her the icon of democracy and a beacon of hope for the Burmese people. On her 64th birthday today, she is still very relevant.

The farcical trial that the junta cooked up to put her in jail again is changing the pattern of international concern and support. Never before have so many countries, big and small, expressed solidarity with Suu Kyi's cause and struggle. Hopefully this unity will continue in the foreseeable future, and Burma has placed all its bets on how long this cooperation lasts.

The junta leaders know that in the hordes of problems facing the world, Burma is not one of the issues that would hold everyone's attention and persistent scrutiny. However, the junta is wrong this time because the international community, including Asean, has become more vocal in reacting to the situation inside Burma and Suu Kyi's trial.

It is interesting to note the junta once hoped that by incarcerating Suu Kyi, she would be forgotten in no time. Yet this was not the case. Since the Depayin incident in May 2003 when she almost got killed by government-sponsored thugs, the Burmese people have been taking Suu Kyi very seriously. Her popularity and trust in her leadership is becoming more and more visible, which is why the junta wants to get rid of her and ensure she will never play a part in the political scheme of things.

Over the years, one often hears that too much attention is being focused on her plight and struggle. Some Asean leaders even ridiculed her in the 1990s, saying she did not know her own country having spent most of her life abroad and marrying a foreigner.

When she wrote to Asean foreign ministers back in 1995 urging them to not recognise the junta, her letter was ignored. However, all that has changed with the trial and the junta's attempt to put her behind bars again. The international community, Asean and other key players are demanding her freedom - a common endeavour that has shocked the military rulers. Asean is now willing to speak on her behalf. Clearly, the junta leaders have no idea that international support for her will only grow stronger the longer they keep her behind bars.

Like it or not, she will definitely become part of a future political solution, if one does come about. Some Burmese apologists say she has no role to play. Before the latest trial began, many countries in the West were thinking of new ways to engage Burma and its leaders. They thought the best thing would be to accept the junta-sponsored roadmap, which has entered its final stage entailing elections and the setting up of a new government by next year.

However, Suu Kyi's latest trial has made these countries do a bit of soul searching to see if the junta really deserves any sympathy or humanitarian assistance.

In the next few weeks, it would be interesting to watch developments inside the country. Asean has to act upon its charter, which the Burmese junta refuses to follow.

Any Asean country can be reprimanded if it fails to follow the charter, which was put into effect last December. However, it would take extraordinary moral courage for Asean members to raise the issue among themselves. But surely they realise the junta can't be allowed to get away scot-free, because the Asean charter should stand for something.

Collective support from Asean for Suu Kyi and inclusive politics in Burma represents a new benchmark for the grouping, and members are hoping their new charter will be respected and followed.

READ MORE---> At 64, Aung San Suu Kyi is still relevant...

Global protests to mark Aung San Suu Kyi on birthday

(The Australian) - THE US and European Union led calls to free Myanmar's detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as her admirers around the world and online celebrated her 64th birthday today.

In Washington, Myanmar exiles toasted the opposition leader at a birthday party on Capitol Hill while in London the wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown hosted a screening of a film dedicated to her.

But the Nobel laureate herself was spending her birthday at Yangon's notorious Insein prison, where she is being held on charges of violating her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside house.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention since the ruling junta refused to recognise the landslide victory of her National League for Democracy (NLD) in 1990 elections.

European Union leaders are set to make a 64-word call today for her release at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels. They will say she “tirelessly defended the universal values of freedom and democracy,” according to a draft statement.

The US State Department, in a birthday message, urged the junta to free Aung San Suu Kyi “immediately” and hailed her as a woman who has “dedicated her life to achieving democratic change and promoting progress in Burma”.

“We, along with all of her admirers in Burma and abroad, look forward to the day when she will be able to celebrate her birthday in freedom,” the State Department statement said, using Myanmar's former name.

Campaigners across the world planned to mark the day with events ranging from live music and speeches in Malaysia, evening vigils in Ireland and Australia and debating forums in Thailand.

On the internet, famous names including Britain's Gordon Brown, footballer David Beckham and US actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts offered support on the site “64 for Suu.”

Other women Nobel laureates including Iran's Shirin Ebadi wrote in a joint message on the website that they looked forward to the day their “sister” would be free.

In London, Brown's wife Sarah Brown hosted a private screening of a new film on Myanmar, the first-ever such awareness event at the prime minister's Downing Street offices, officials said.

At least one minister and various charity bosses were to attend the showing of “Burma VJ”, which a Foreign Office spokesman said “exposes the atrocities and injustices that have been taking place under the military regime”.

The birthday was not to go unmarked in Yangon, where NLD members were making preparations at party headquarters for a similar celebration to those in previous years, including giving breakfast to Buddhist monks.

“We have to hold the birthday party without the host again. We would be very happy if she could be released, we are hoping and praying for this,” senior party member Lei Lei told AFP.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces five years in jail if convicted in her trial, which resumes on June 26. The court case has provoked international outrage and has been described as a “show trial” by US President Barack Obama.

A global petition was delivered on Monday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by more than 670,000 people from 220 countries, calling for the release of all Myanmar's political prisoners, especially Aung San Suu Kyi.

At the US Capitol complex, Myanmar exiles and activists clinked glasses in salute to the opposition leader.

“We are sad that she is not in her house and not free, but we are not giving up our struggle and we will go on until she is released,” Sein Win, Myanmar's “prime minister-in-exile” and a cousin of Aung San Suu Kyi, told the gathering.

US Congressman Joe Pitts said it was “astonishing” that some nations “continue to enable the brutal dictators of Burma to continue their attacks against their people.”

He did not name countries, but China has been the key political, commercial and military backer of Myanmar.

“We must be more than 'concerned' or even 'deeply concerned.' The international community on behalf of the people of Burma must make it clear that the oppressive leaders of Burma will no longer be tolerated,” he said.

Article from: Agence France-Presse

READ MORE---> Global protests to mark Aung San Suu Kyi on birthday...

Bangladeshie's diplomatic ties with Burmese junta

More diplomatic support for
the Than Shwe's
less humane government
I wonder if Bangladesh and India governments realise how low they are selling themselves with Human Rights, people whatever race or difficulties they face deserve to be treated with dignity... putting pressure on the victims is too far from a solution, the demands for the solution should be placed on the Than Shwe dictatorship.

My thanks to Kaladan Press for this report.

READ MORE---> Bangladeshie's diplomatic ties with Burmese junta...

India-Burma diplomatic cooperation

Mother INDIA
is doing her best
supporting senseless Than Shwe and
his debauched regime

READ MORE---> India-Burma diplomatic cooperation...

Burma's generals must free Aung San Suu Kyi and embrace democracy

By Gordon Brown

(SMH) - Today is the 64th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi. The fact that she remains under arrest is tragic for Burma and for all those who believe in democracy. The trial of Ms Suu Kyi is an absurd mockery of justice. The real injustice was not that someone broke into her compound, but that she was imprisoned in the first place.

Ms Suu Kyi has now been imprisoned for 13 of the past 19 years, since the party she led won the last elections in her country.

More than 2000 others are imprisoned across Burma for sharing her commitment to a better future for the long-suffering population.

Even in the face of such injustice, Ms Suu Kyi has always supported the path of peace and reconciliation. But the regime has consistently spurned her offer of dialogue and reconciliation. It wants to isolate her from the people of Burma, for whom she has long been a symbol of hope and defiance.

Her refusal to buckle in the face of tyranny is an inspiration. But words of support are not enough. The region, the European Union and the United Nations are all urging the junta to release Ms Suu Kyi. So far all requests for moderation have been spurned. In the face of such obstinacy, the world must now act. I believe there are three things we must do.

First, we need to support the countries of the region as they step up efforts to secure democracy and reconciliation. I have been struck by how Burma's neighbours have led the world in calling for Ms Suu Kyi's release. We need to translate this outrage into political pressure for change.

Second, we need the UN Security Council to reinforce its calls for Ms Suu Kyi's release and to support the Secretary-General's efforts to bring about political progress through an early visit to Burma.

Third, we should impose a new set of tough sanctions that target the regime's economic interests. We will be pushing for stronger EU action in this regard. Such a step would hit the business interests of the generals and their cronies.

I also believe we should identify and target those judges complicit in the recent political show trials.

The growing sense of outrage and the unity of the international community behind this message should mark a turning point. The regime is at a crossroads. Long-promised elections in 2010 will remain a charade while political prisoners are being tortured, ethnic minorities are persecuted, the media muzzled, freedom of speech and assembly are non-existent and Ms Suu Kyi is silenced. The regime can choose to ignore the clamour for change. But this will only condemn the country to deeper isolation, poverty, conflict and despair.

Or it can choose the path of reform, as the region has urged. Burma is rich in natural and human resources, at the heart of a dynamic continent. Democratic reform would unleash the country's enormous potential. Britain and the international community would be ready to extend the hand of friendship. If the Burmese generals rethink their ways, we will be ready to recognise and embrace any genuine reforms they make.

Some may question why Burma warrants so much attention. There are other countries where human rights are ignored or people live in poverty. But the Burmese junta stands virtually alone in the scale of its misrule and the sheer indifference to the suffering of its 50 million people. How we respond to this injustice will send a message about our resolution to tackle similar injustices across the globe.

To those that stand for human rights, freedom and democracy, our message remains clear - you are not alone.

Gordon Brown is the British Prime Minister.

READ MORE---> Burma's generals must free Aung San Suu Kyi and embrace democracy...

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