VOA Burmese Blog

May 8, 2012

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Awards Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with the Elie Wiesel Award


The Elie Wiesel Tribute dinner was held to honor leaders who have made a difference in their communities and for humanity. Elie Wiesel himself is a fellow Nobel Laureate and a Holocaust survivor who had seen the brutality of mankind during the Holocaust, yet his faith stayed intact. This year, the United States Holocaust museum bestowed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with the honor of the Elie Wiesel award for her struggle towards democracy in non-violent means as she continues to fight- unshaken.

Elie Wiesel: “She’s an extraordinary human being with ideals and ideas. And all of these ideals and ideas are all there- not only for her own sake but for her country. And beyond that, to all of the people- men and women – anywhere and everywhere in the world- where ever people suffer. She is part of my consciousness – of my moral obligations. She should know that she’s not alone.”

Like Elie Wiesel, Ms. Gerda Weissman Klein is a Holocaust survivor, and she has experienced atrocities unimaginable. As she recalls the cruelty of mankind during the time of the Nazis, she also remembers the strength and resilience of the Jewish people which gave her as well as others freedom inevitably.

Ms. Gerda Weissman Klein: ” You, Madame, so far away in Burma, must know that you have inspired all those who look to the moon and who look to you who has been the guiding stars to so many who have lived in peril and in slavery. I too, have been deprived of freedom for 6 years in Nazi, Germany. Emptiness can be so heavy. How cries of pain can be so silent, yet you Madame are in every heart, every thought- of those present here tonight and all those who have worked for freedom and to the millions who are still yearning for freedom.”

Despite the despair that the memory of the Holocaust brings, ultimately, the night echoed the theme of courage and hope. Actress, Natalie Portman bestowed the Elie Viesel award to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by reading a speech of hers from her book,“ Freedom from Fear”.

Natalie Portman: ” Here is what she said: It is not power that corrupts, but fear. It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it…”

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had words of her own for the tribute dinner. She spoke via a pre-recorded video.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: “There are certain things we must not forget, because we would not like these to be repeated in the future. And I thank and honor all of you who are trying to make known to the world- what should not happen again. And individuals can make all the difference- individuals who survive in spite of the greatest cruelty – in spite of the greatest trials and to teach other people that it’s possible to survive. And to you all who have not only survived but helped others to survive – by speaking of your experiences- and by teaching them how to be brave and how NOT to lose your integrity in the face of the greatest difficulty. I would like to say, “ Thank you. I honor you. I respect you. And I hope that I too will be able to be like you.”

With on going talks between the United States and Burma, White House Chief of Staff, Jack Lew spoke of the Lady of Burma.

Jack Lew: ” Many times Daw Suu could’ve decided that she had done enough that it was someone else’s turn to sacrifice. But she refused to give up. Instead she continued to inspire the entire world with her faith in nonviolent action and her belief that freedom would ultimately prove greater than tyranny.”

The dinner was a successful charity event, which honored the lives that were lost during the Holocaust and commemorated the past while at the same time reassuring that such a tragedy never happens again. As the United States and the Western world is reaching out to engage in Burma’s new transition to democracy, all eyes are on the Lady of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with her extensive belief in the nation’s reform towards freedom.

English Version:

Burmese Version:

Producers: Thet Su Naing/ Kaye Lin

Assistant Producer: Lwin Nyein Chan Kyaw

Reporters: Thet Su Naing / Kaye Lin

Videography: Lwin Nyein Chan Kyaw / Kaye Lin

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Amnesty International’s ” Get on the Bus for Human Rights”

Filed under: Uncategorized — voaburmese @ 10:31 pm

Amnesty International held their biggest annual grass roots campaign called “Get on the Bus for Human Rights” -which consisted of 500 people – mostly highschool and college students coming to New York to protest for the rights of many people around the world. One of the countries that Amnesty International shed its light on was Burma.

 

Even with the recent news of Burma’s road to reform, activists say that Burma’s political prisoners shouldn’t be forgotten.There are still many infringements on human rights that exist in the country today despite the country’s public announcement of change, they say.

 

 Burmese artist/activist: Chaw Ei Thein:

 

 Like Chaw Ei Thein, US Campaign for Burma Representative, Nickie Sekera came to protest in front of the United Nations to call to the international community for the release of Burma’s political prisoners languishing in its jails. Protesters yelled for the release of ethnic Karenni political activist, Khun Kawrio and student activist, Ko Aye Aung just two of the many political prisoners trapped in Burma. Nickie says it’s still too early to see if the changes are real because this road to change is fragile.

 

 Nickie Sekera: I see the Burmese government performing but not reforming. There have been small steps taken, but there are still political prisoners that remain in jail- several hundreds. And until all prisoners of conscience are released, there will be protests.

 

The protesters, many of them students echoed the streets of New York on the abuses that people have felt because of the tormenting ways of governments. Students came from all around the nation to protest for the rights of human-kind, and one of those places they came from was Maine. Students took on the streets of New York encouraging justice and freedom in countries like Burma.

 

Shott:

I came here because there are so many prisoners that need to be helped, and we have to shed a light and give a voice to those who cannot speak.

 

This event conveyed just how important the international community played in assisting people all around the world – giving voices to the voiceless and to create awareness on a situation that could otherwise have gone unnoticed. Amnesty International’s “Get on the Bus Tour” played a vital role in sending a message to the power of the students and echoed the same resilience that the ’88 Generation student leaders in Burma had in promoting democracy in their country.

 

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Burmese Version:

 

May 3, 2012

Interview with Priscilla Clapp- Former Charge D’ Affaires of Burma


Priscilla Clapp- Former Charge D’Affaires of Burma and current Senior Adviser to Asia Society, joins VOA’s Khin Soe Win to talk about Burma’s new reforms and what these reforms could mean for the future of the country. She also speaks about the challenges that Burma has to face in building this new democracy -which she explains is more than just rhetoric. She says that Burma is no longer a one man top down system-meaning, that the military is no longer the primary rule. There are different branches that have to be built and established in a democracy and it will take some time.
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Burmese Version:

The EU and the US Easing Sanctions on Burma


The United States and the European Union have said that it will follow and reward Burma’s democratic reforms, and they have been bargaining. As the new government led by President Thein Sein enacted in a series of democratic changes such as granting amnesty on some political prisoners and announcing greater press freedom, the United States, Australia, European Union including Norway, Britain have rewarded those reforms by lifting some long-standing sanctions against Burma.

During the 1990’s, the European Union and America imposed sanctions on Burma for its human rights abuses. Sanctions on Burma drove the country closer to its big superpower neighbor, China, and the Burmese government is looking forward to attract more foreign investors as analysts disclose the Burmese government’s growing exhaustion of China taking advantage of its resources. The videos show case the World Bank’s forum on Burma’s progress towards economic reforms discussing the removal of the sanctions and the humanitarian issues that still face the country.

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Burmese Version:

Burma’s Historic By-Election and the NLD Wins by a Land-Slide


Burma’s opposition party, the National League of Democracy won by a land slide in the historic by – elections on April 1st. The NLD won 43 out of 44 seats in parliament up for grabs. This is a milestone for Burma and its people where the lady of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest just over a year ago, was guaranteed a seat in Burma’s parliament.

Daw Suu made a victory speech at the NLD head quarters just after the announcement of her win, and in her speech she noted the irregularities and some of the illegal campaigning that she had seen, saying that it will not be over looked. Despite it all, the NLD and Daw Suu came out on top winning 43 out of the 44 seats in parliament.

She spoke in both Burmese and English. Here are the speeches:

English Version:

Burmese Version:

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