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Aung San Suu Kyi At Sixty

Burmese National League for Democracy General Secretary and 1991 Nobel peace prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi spent her sixtieth birthday under house arrest. She was detained in May 2003 after thugs affiliated with Burma's military junta attacked her convoy. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of the past sixteen years under detention.

When parliamentary elections were held in May 1990, the National League for Democracy won three-hundred-ninety-two of the four-hundred-eighty-five seats. But Burma's military junta refused to honor the results of the election, which was considered generally free and fair.

Today, Aung San Suu Kyi and some one-thousand-three-hundred other Burmese remain detained for the peaceful expression of their political views. In celebration of her birthday, demonstrations have been held outside Burmese embassies around the world. Fourteen Nobel prizewinners have called for her freedom. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made public a letter she sent to Aung San Suu Kyi reaffirming that the U.S. "stands with you and all others in your struggle to free the Burmese people." South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu released a taped message:

"My warmest and best wishes to you, my dear sister, on your birthday. God's richest blessings on you and may your vision of justice [and] democracy become a reality for you and all the people of Burma."

Win Myint is a retired civil servant living in Rangoon, Burma's capital. He says Aung San Suu Kyi "is still important for our future because it is only because of her that our country is getting international attention."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the U.S. "calls upon Burma's military rulers to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and to include Burma's democratic opposition and ethnic minorities in a dialogue that leads to genuine national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy. Burma, he said, "is the only country where a Nobel laureate is under house arrest for simply acting as a democratic leader."

As President George Bush pointed out, Aung San Suu Kyi's "strength, courage, and personal sacrifice in standing up for the oppressed people of Burma have inspired those who stand for freedom. Only a return to democracy and reintegration with the international community can bring the freedom and prosperity that the people of Burma deserve. The United States looks forward to the time when Burma is democratic and free".

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.