Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Burma's suffering is also ours THINK of my sister Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi every day. Her picture hangs on the wall of my office, reminding me that, thousands of miles away in Asia, a nation is oppressed. Every day I ask myself: have I done everything I can to end the atrocities being committed in Burma? And I pray that world leaders will ask themselves the same question. For if they did, the answer would be ‘‘no’’, and perhaps their conscience will finally force them to act.

Humankind has the ability to live in freedom and in peace. We have seen that goodness has triumphed over evil; we have witnessed political transitions in South Africa and elsewhere, evidence that we live in a moral universe. Our world is sometimes lacking wise and good leadership or, as in the case of Burma, the leadership is forbidden to lead.

Aung San Suu Kyi has now been detained for more than 13 years. She recently passed her 5000th day in detention. Every one of those days is a tragedy and a lost opportunity. The whole world, not just the people of Burma, suffers from this loss. We desperately need the kind of moral and principled leadership that Suu Kyi would provide. And when you add the more than 2100 political prisoners who are also in Burma’s jails, and the thousands more jailed in recent decades, the true scale of injustice, but also of lost potential, becomes heartbreakingly clear.

Like many leaders, Suu Kyi has had to make great personal sacrifices. The generals try to use her as leverage to make her submit to their will. They refused to allow her husband to visit one last time when he was dying of cancer. She has grandchildren she has never even met. Yet her will and determination have stayed strong.

More than anything, the new trial and detention of Suu Kyi speaks volumes about her effectiveness as a leader. The only reason the generals need to silence her clarion call for freedom is because she is the greatest threat to their continuing

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