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The Struggle Itself – the most important thing

November 4, 2005

By pwrdf

Burma: 10 years of activism for Aung Sann Suu Kyi

As Nobel Prize winner and Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung Sann Suu Kyi marked a total of 10 years under house arrest, PWRDF staff Mahjabeen Chowdhury and Naba Gurung were invited to a series of events in Ottawa hosted by two PWRDF partners, the non-partisan parliamentary organization Rights & Democracy and Canadian Friends of Burma. Under the ruling military government (State Peace and Development Council), Burmese civilians are subject to systematic and widespread human rights abuses: compulsory relocation, forced labour, use of child soldiers, human mine sweepers, water torture, rape as a weapon of war, religious persecution and the wanton destruction of villages.
Almost 700,000 refugees have fled Burma in recent years as a result of the instability, terror and hardship created by the government. In one of the poorest countries in the world, the regime spends 50 per cent of the national budget on the military and only 19 per cent for healthcare. Burma is one of the world’s worst drug barons, producing and trafficking vast quantities of heroin and amphetamines. Given that the United Nations Security Council has accepted that HIV/AIDS threatens international peace and security, it is alarming that Burma is a primary contributor to the spread of the disease in southeast Asia. Moreover, the flourishing sex industry is a conduit for the growth of an HIV/Aids pandemic in Burma itself.

The October 24 Ottawa events were aimed at encouraging the government of Canada to implement a Parliamentary motion on Burma adopted in May, calling on the Canadian government to take both domestic and international measures in support of Burma’s struggling democracy movement and to more forcefully condemn the military junta’s continuing human rights abuses. A breakfast seminar included presentations by Prime Minister Sein Win of Burma’s government in exile, Charm Tong, a young educator and human rights campaigner from Burma recently selected as one of Time Magazine’s 2005 Asian Heroes, and other leaders of the ongoing struggle against political repression and human rights abuses
PWRDF, together with other Canadian civil society groups, continues to be in solidarity with the Burmese people’s struggle for democracy. One day there will indeed be a free Burma as echoed in the words of its leader Aung San Suu Kyi “What is there to be discouraged about? Gandhi said the victory is in the struggle itself. The struggle itself is the most important thing. I tell our followers that when we achieve democracy, we will look back with nostalgia on the struggle and how pure we were.”

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