Saturday, June 16, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi: A Prisoner No More

"The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart." ~ Aung San Suu Kyi
Sometimes the arc of the moral universe, as MLK once said, seems to bend toward justice. Today, Aung San Suu Kyi received her Nobel Peace Prize twenty-one years after she'd won it. It's good for the soul and the future to pause and relish a victory of this magnitude. But as Suu Kyi cautioned, now isn't the time for "reckless optimism."

Yuko and I visited Burma in 2008, a year after the anti-government "saffron revolution" brought thousands of people into the streets. We traveled to Inle, Mandalay, Bagan and Rangoon. Despite the danger, everyone who spoke to us expressed unconditional support for Suu Kyi. She carries with her the aspirations of her people.

(Kids smothered with thanaka cream playing hide and seek @ Inle, via Yewco)
Suu Kyi was living under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years until she was finally released in November 2010. Her crime? Defeating the junta in the 1990 elections. Her Nobel speech, delivered in Oslo, Norway, is a moving testament to the essential goodness of humanity despite the brute injustice she and Burma have lived through:
"Before continuing to speak of my country, may I speak out for our prisoners of conscience. There still remain such prisoners in Burma. It is to be feared that because the best known detainees have been released, the remainder, the unknown ones, will be forgotten. I am standing here because I was once a prisoner of conscience. As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often repeated truth that one prisoner of conscience is one too many. Those who have not yet been freed, those who have not yet been given access to the benefits of justice in my country number much more than one. Please remember them and do whatever is possible to effect their earliest, unconditional release."

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