Will you stand with Aung San Suu Kyi?

April 15, 2010

Amnesty International is asking you to stand with Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Myanmar through a symbolic photographic action.  We are hoping to gather at least 2,100 photos by June 19 – Aung San Suu Kyi’s 65th birthday – to represent the 2,100 political prisoners detained in Myanmar.

I wanted to show my support for Suu Kyi by standing with her by another liberation giant: Abraham Lincoln.

Myanmar is not a place that had crossed my radar until I traveled to Thailand in October 2008.  If you are like me, you might have heard about monks protesting and a devastating cyclone hitting the country, but mostly this is a place that remains shrouded in mystery.  Through some fortuitous networking in Thailand, I connected with a Burmese refugee community and learned about the issues in Myanmar firsthand from those fighting to create change in the country and hopefully one day return.  Personally, I know that I feel powerless when I think about the weight of what is happening in Myanmar and how little I can do alone.  However, when we stand together, we are strong.

At the heart of the movement for Myanmar is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and co-founder of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a pro-democracy political party that sought to counter the military junta that has reigned over Myanmar since 1962.  In 1990, the NLD won the majority of the seats in the parliamentary election, but the military junta refused to recognize these election results and instead jailed scores of political activists.  For 14 of the past 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has endured unofficial detention, house arrest and restrictions on her movement.

In honor of her upcoming birthday, we’re rallying once again to shine a light on her case and keep hope alive for the people of Myanmar.

Here’s all you need to do to “Stand with Suu Kyi”:

1) Download a “Stand with Suu Kyi” poster from the Amnesty website

2) Take a photograph of yourself and others with the sign

3) Post your photos to our Stand with Suu Kyi Flickr group

Images are a simple, yet powerful, way to get the message across – we want the world to know that we stand with Suu Kyi and have not forgotten her sacrifice.

As a current intern at Amnesty International USA,  Both represent great icons of liberation to me, one from the past and one from a future that I hope is realized.

So why do I stand with Aung San Suu Kyi?

  • I stand with Suu Kyi because she represents what I aspire to be: resolved, fearless, humble, selfless, wise, elegant and strong.
  • I stand with Suu Kyi because, for whatever reason, I was born in a country where I can voice my political belief without fear when so many others cannot.
  • I stand with Suu Kyi because she asked me to when she said, “Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

I also hope to remind those of us who cannot imagine such gross violations of human rights to remember what freedoms we have and to think about their importance to us. To echo the sentiments of Aung San Suu Kyi: we must use our liberty to be a voice for those who cannot speak and promote change for those who have severe limitations on their freedoms.

This post was contributed by Stephanie Madden.