Dec. 10 is recognized as both International Rights Day and the day on which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Aoung San Suu Chee) is to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. By awarding her the prize, it is the intention of the Nobel Committee to acknowledge her efforts to bring about a democratic Burmese government respectful of human rights.
It is a day in which the world should focus on the plight of the Burmese people and should act in such a way as to help stop their suffering.
For almost 30 years the people of Burma have been forced to live under a totalitarian system. As that system began to show cracks in mid-1988, the military has done everything in its power to maintain control. This military rule has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Burmese, many of whom were merely innocent bystanders or bold enough to speak the truth.
Aung San Suu Kyi was also courageous enough to speak the truth and as a result was placed under house arrest over two years ago. Today, she symbolizes both the effects of repression by the current regime, and the prospect of a Burma both free from fear and governed in accordance with the desires of the people.
As the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s resurface with the possible coalition in Cambodia, the question of how we could let such atrocities occur also resurfaces. It is happening again, not in Cambodia but today in Burma. An act such as that of the United Nations unanimously and publicly condemning the human rights situation in Burma is helpful, but more must be done.
An awareness of the suffering of the Burmese people, including Aung San Suu Kyi, is essential. A devotion in the part of governments and companies to withdraw investments in Burma is even more crucial. We will not find a more opportune day than today to begin such actions. Free Suu, free Burma!