Sunday, November 14, 2010

Prisoners of conscience in Burma and Cuba freed just hours apart

But many still remain unjustly imprisoned and need solidarity

Aung San Suu Kyi & Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique both freed on Saturday

Saturday was a good day for freedom. Two prisoners of conscience on opposite sides of the world but facing similar regimes obtained there freedom. In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, age 65, and in Cuba, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, age 68, both prisoners of conscience saw freedom after too many years in unjust captivity.

Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique speaks out following his release (Spanish)

Both emerged from their imprisonment declaring their commitment to work for a democratic transition and a society where human rights are respected. While at the same time addressing their respective regime's with the necessity to open up and respect human rights to avoid chaos in Cuba and end the ongoing chaos in Burma. Both had refused accepting any conditions that would restrict their ability to act in defense of human rights and liberty and remain committed to the cause despite their age:

“I’m still youthful because of the demands of the cause. After we gain democracy, I will stay as an old lady.”Aung San Suu Kyi, November 14, 2010

"I'll be involved in the same activities I did before they sent me to prison, which were not criminal but opposition" Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique,
November 14, 2010

Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique with wife & Lady in White Lidia Lima

Arnaldo was reunited with his wife Lidia Lima who is also a Lady in White, but Aung San Suu Kyi was unable to be reunited with her husband. When her spouse, Michael Aris, was diagnosed with terminal cancer the military junta refused to allow him to enter Burma and would not guarantee Aung San Suu Kyi the right to return to her homeland.

Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters and press on Saturday

At the time of his death in 1999 Suu Kyi had not been able to see her husband in over three years. She is able to maintain her commitment to nonviolence and the need for national reconciliation, in part, because of her understanding of courage: “Courage means to work for what you believe with perseverance and to be strong and to have good will. It's not courageous to use one's physical strength and to shout loudly.”

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks out on political freedom, democracy and political prisoners

Both the Burmese and Cuban democratic oppositions understand that the freedom of all political prisoners is an important first step on the path to the restoration of fundamental human rights. The bottom line is that without political freedom there is no democracy. No matter how many votes the regime's in Burma or Cuba hold as long as political freedoms are not respected and dissent is outlawed then the entire "electoral" process amounts to a sham.

Laura Pollan speaks on reforming Cuban legal code and freeing political prisoners

Hundreds upon hundreds of political prisoners remain imprisoned not only the over 2,200 in Burma and hundreds in Cuba but in other repressive regimes such as China, Vietnam, Zimbabwe all around the world. Its up to you to take action and do something. Write a letter demanding a political prisoner be freed, call your representative, make a video, sign a petition and help get the word out.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu demonstrates his solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi

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