Sunday, January 4, 2009 marks the 61st anniversary of Burma’s independence from British rule. Yet for most of the years since then, the aspirations of Burma's citizens have been dashed by military rule.
On January 2, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack released a national day message to the people of Burma, on behalf of the people of the United States.
He said, “As we reflect on Burma’s independence struggle, led by General Aung San, we are reminded of our own history. We support the peaceful efforts of people everywhere to exercise freely their universal human rights. We stand with the Burmese people today in honoring Aung San’s vision for an independent, peaceful, and democratic Burma and look forward to the day when Burma’s citizens will be able to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy. We earnestly hope that day will come soon.”
Burma’s ruling military junta has refused to honor the memory of General Aung San or the spirit of Burma’s struggle for freedom. The regime continues to detain more than 2,100 political prisoners, including General Aung San's daughter, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and many other pro-democracy leaders. The ruling generals continue to oppress their own people through the denial of basic rights, forced labor, corruption, economic mismanagement, and the arbitrary detention of political opponents.
The people of Burma deserve better. Burma was one of the wealthiest and most educated countries in Southeast Asia following World War II. It is a sad irony that Burma is now one of the poorest countries in the world, languishing at the bottom of nearly every social and economic indicator. Despite this, the spirit of the Burmese people and their desire for freedom remains strong.
The United States will continue to honor and assist those who seek to restore the democratic vision of General Aung San and his colleagues. The United States hopes that Burma's people one day soon will be able to truly enjoy true independence and self-determination as promised in 1948.