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Date: 10 Dec 1999
Message From Daw Aung San Suu Kyi For Malaysians
EMBARGOED UNTIL 8:00 pm, 10th December 1999 (Transcript of Video Speech) by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary, National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize Winner On the Occasion of Human Rights Day and SUARAM's 10th Anniversary
10th December 1999
It is not often that I get the opportunity to send a message to an organization working for human rights - political and civil rights - in our part of the world. I think we need more organizations like this in South East Asia. This is why I am particularly pleased to be able to send a message to Suaram, on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the organization.
We too are fighting for political and civil rights in Burma. So we have a deep feeling of friendship, of should I say, "sisterhood" or "brotherhood?" Well, "siblinghood" perhaps is the expression for others who are fighting for civil and political rights in our part of the world.
Too often we have to try to explain that human rights - which of course include political, civil, social, economic rights - are not a particularly western idea. Human rights are relevant to all human beings. Those who wish to deny us certain political rights try to convince us that these are not Asian values. They try to make us content with what they are prepared to give us.
When I say "they," I'm referring to authoritarian regimes. Authoritarian regimes all over the world share this desire to convince their people that they don't know what is best for them. That the people do not know what is best for them, but governments do. This is something that we cannot accept.
The whole concept of political and civil rights is based on the conviction that not only do human beings have rights and responsibilities, but that they have the ability to win these rights for themselves. And they have the qualities that make them deserve these rights. For this reason, for us to be fully developed human beings who have realized our potential, we need our political and civil rights.
We have heard of brave organizations all over the world which fight for political and civil rights in the face of tremendous difficulties. Quite often, these difficulties come from the direction of the authorities. We know that Suaram, like the National League for Democracy in Burma, has had to face many problems in their battle to promote political and civil rights. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to due process of justice, all these cannot be taken for granted in our part of the world.
In Burma, we understand perhaps more than many others what it is like to suffer from a lack of civil and political freedom. The people of Burma have not been able to exercise their political and civil rights for more than three decades now.
Compared to the people of Burma, the people of Malaysia are fortunate. They have greater access to civil and political rights. But they too have to continue the struggle to be able to enjoy these rights in full.
I hope the time will come when organizations working for human rights all over South East Asia will be able to cooperate more closely. It is only by our united efforts that we can change those attitudes which are detracting from the genuine development of our nations. By genuine development, I mean human development. So any organization that is working for political and civil rights is working for genuine human development.
For this reason, I would like to thank Suaram for what they have contributed towards progress in our part of the world. And I would like to say that I believe that the time will come when we can work together when there can be a real exchange of ideas, of help between our countries and our organizations.
The first 10 years are usually the most difficult ones. I hope and I believe that the next 10 years will be far easier and far more fruitful for you.