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World celebrates Aung San Suu Kyi's 65th birthday while under house arrest for 5349 days

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June 19, 2010 is an important day as far as Burma/Myanmar is concerned. Although it will be observed in silence in repressive Burma, it underlines the status of The Lady and raises again the reality that she is central to the development of democracy in Burma. The day marks the 65th birthday of Nobel Peace Laureate and Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

The birthday celebration may be a silent affair in Burma, but people around the world are launching the 65th Grand Birthday Party of the Nobel laureate of Burma to show that they all are standing together with her for free Burma.

The Steel Lady, her resolve nobody can steal, would have spent 5349 days under house arrest on her 65th birthday that day. This is the third term of her house arrest.

For the vast majority of Burmese, The Lady possesses the true spirit of her father, Burma's national hero General Aung San. From him, she inherited the backbone she has become famous for and the traditional obligations of conciliation and mutual respect. She has toiled relentlessly on the task of building democratic Burma and has given up her own liberty in the interests of her fellow Burmese.

For Burma, there can be no proper consideration of a democratic system while she, and some 2,200 fellow political leaders remain isolated from the political culture and languish in prisons of the junta. Her service is the epitome not only of a leader of a nation, but of the very basic tenets of freedom and democracy itself. It is the richest irony that she, as arguably one of the freedom icons of our generation, is subjected to such treatment while the dictatorial military talks of democracy to the world and to its people.

All in Burma are aware that Aung San Suu Kyi's historic exemplars eventually achieved their goals. Both Mahatma Gandhi and her father General Aung San took their nations from colonialism to independence, forging a foundation of an open society along the way.

From Gandhi she takes her commitment to non-violence, from her father she draws the power of integrity that takes shape in what she calls "profound simplicity". Although these spiritual and political figureheads are significant, Aung San Suu Kyi has her own political ideology that orbits a central commitment to defending human rights and human dignity at all times.

In her famous book, "Freedom from Fear," she argues fearlessness is the core of her political thinking. She says it is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who exercise it. Fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Fearlessness is the best reaction to state violence.

In conclusion she writes, "Truth, justice and compassion are often the only bulwarks against ruthless power".

With such qualities, it is clear that Burma needs Aung San Suu Kyi. Moreover, the region and the world need her. Burma, a strategically and economically important state, is already facing failed state status and peers over the edge of complete oblivion and chaos under the incompetence of the generals.

For the regime, Aung San Suu Kyi is seen as a force that can stop their dictatorial power. Yet, some even in the military must be thinking she is their only chance at a sustainable exit strategy for they know she will not engage in recrimination or revenge. The key issue between the Lady and the generals is how to rebuild the country - a genuine federal union or a namesake union. The Lady grantees the ethnic nationalities' political aspirations of a true federal union that will allow self determination with liberty, justice and equality. The generals totally oppose it. That's why the ethnic groups and parties including ceasefire and non-ceasefire forces strongly support Aung San Suu Kyi except Burmese military dictators.

She is also the only real leader who can gain the immediate support of the international community and be the catalyst for rebuilding Burma. It may be that it is not just those in the democracy movement who recognize her as the sole savior of the state of Burma.

If generals analyze the situation with intelligence and foresight not qualities they have displayed in the past it has to be admitted, they might arrive at the conclusion that her release is vital for their own future.

If, on the other hand, the junta fails to accept a "tripartite dialogue' between itself, ethnic groups and the National League for Democracy, it will surely bring down the regime together with its farcical seven-step roadmap.

Burma's generals must, therefore, order the immediate release of the Lady and all political prisoners in favor of national reconciliation. It is a rare confluence of views that have seen the international community from the United Nations Security Council, the United States, the European Union, and the ASEAN taking the same view on the question of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN, the EU and the ASEAN must urge China to cooperate in finding a solution to release The Lady. Regional players should urge the military regime to abandon its recalcitrant and counter-intuitive anti-dialogue policies in the interests of dialogue and reconciliation.

To succeed in establishing a win-win equation, the military must recognize Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as the ideal, indeed, the only relevant, dialogue-partner for national reconciliation in Burma.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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