Dozens of Burmese and American pro-democracy activists launched a demonstration outside the Burmese Embassy for the 60th birthday of Burma’s pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Chanting slogans like “Burma, Burma must be free. Freedom, justice, democracy,” the crowd waved banners and posters that called for the release of the only imprisoned Nobel Laureate.
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and author of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, carried a cardboard box decorated with signatures and crammed with 6,000 colorful birthday cards received from all around the world. When he reached the gates of the Burmese embassy, he found them locked.
He placed the box on a concrete pillar, where he gave birthday wishes to the imprisoned Suu Kyi, "I want Aung San Suu Kyi to know that the entire Congress of the United States of AMerica and the American people are with her today wishing her a happy birthday and the moral and physical courage to continue."
He also said, "The Congress of the United States is determined to see to it that as democracy moves ahead elsewhere, it will certainly move ahead and prevail in Burma."
Aung Din, Policy Director of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), said the global effort included demonstrations outside Burmese embassies around the world, aimed to build international awareness, unity and speed up pressure on the Burmese military regime for the immediate release of Suu Kyi – as well as all political prisoners inside the country and for democratic reforms.
He hoped this international effort would be the start of political dialogue and national reconciliation.
While demonstrators sang “Happy Birthday” and cut a large cake for Suu Kyi, no movement could be seen inside the Burmese embassy on the sunny Friday afternoon. No one came out from the embassy’s closed gates to receive the birthday cards. Reaction from the embassy was not available.