Sharanksy expresses hope for 'a free, democratic Burma'

By RONEN SHNIDMAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
November 16, 2010 00:09

Former Soviet political dissident and refusenik wishes Burmese pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi strength in her continued struggle.

2 minute read.



Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar 311. (photo credit: AP)

Jewish Agency chairman and former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky sent a letter to Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate and recently released political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi to express his sincere excitement upon hearing the news of her release from house arrest by the ruling military junta in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).

"Your heroic determination and devotion to freedom and to your people say more about the soul of the Burmese people than all the rhetoric of the regime that tried to keep you silent," Sharansky wrote.

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He also ended the letter with the "sincere hope for a free and democratic Burma."

Sharansky signed his letter both in his official role as Jewish Agency chairman as well as "former Soviet dissident and political prisoner."

Pro-democracy advocate Suu Kyi was released this past weekend from seven and a half years in detention. On Sunday, she told thousands of wildly cheering supporters at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy that she would continue to fight for human rights and the rule of law in the military-controlled nation.

In sync and perhaps in fulfillment of Sharansky's wishes, Suu Kyi began the nuts and bolts work of reviving her political movement Monday, consulting lawyers about having her now-disbanded political party declared legal again.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate must balance the expectations of the country's pro-democracy movement with the realities of freedom that could be withdrawn any time by the regime. Although her party is officially dissolved, it has continued operating with the same structure. But without official recognition, it is in legal limbo, leaving it — and her — vulnerable to government crackdowns.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, has indicated she would continue with her political activity but not whether she would challenge the military with mass rallies and other activities.

In an interview Monday with the BBC, Suu Kyi said she sought "a non-violent revolution" and offered some reassuring words for the military.

"I don't want to see the military falling. I want to see the military rising to dignified heights of professionalism and true patriotism," she said.


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