Burmese Democracy Leader Marks Uprising Anniversary

Posted August 8th, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has challenged the government by attending a ceremony honoring victims of a failed 1988 uprising against military rule.

The ceremony Monday marked the 23rd anniversary of the so-called 8.8.88 uprising, which marked her emergency as a leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement. At Monday's event, she urged about 400 people not to forget the government crackdown that followed, in which some 3,000 people died.

Human rights groups used the anniversary to press their appeal for an international commission of inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity by Burma's leaders.

The event came a day after the Nobel Peace laureate announced she will make a political trip outside Rangoon next week, despite a warning from the pro-military government to halt all political activities.

A spokesman said she will travel to Bago, about 80 kilometers from Rangoon, on Sunday to attend the opening of two libraries and meet with political network groups.

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it is sad that Burmese activists still are struggling for democracy 23 years after the 1988 uprising. He reiterated his government's support for Aung San Suu Kyi's goal of a free and democratic Burma and said only genuine reconciliation with the country's ethnic and political groups can bring it stability.

The human rights group Christian Solidarity International said it has written to European Union foreign ministers concerning a resolution on Burma to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly. They want the resolution to include a call for a commission of inquiry to look into alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated by Burma's leaders.

And in Manila, the Free Burma Coalition-Philippines demonstrated in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs to urge President Benigno Aquino to join the campaign for a commission.

The United States, Canada, Australia and 12 European Union countries have already spoken in support of a commission, as first proposed by U.N. human rights investigator Tomas Quintana.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a landslide electoral victory in 1990, two years after the 1988 uprising, but was never allowed to take power.

She has spent most of the last two decades in some form of detention. She was released from her most recent seven-year stint in November, shortly after a national election in which her party was forbidden to participate.