B day, letters

Tomorrow is B day. All eyes will be on Burma as “The Lady of Burma” celebrates her 65th birthday, her 15th under arrest.  

There has been a great deal of coverage on Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi today, and the gallery of intimate images on the Guardian, taken from her life in England as a wife and mother are particularly poignant given her long term separation from her sons and her English academic husband’s tragic death, whilst they were parted.

 A radio programme, about her, Freedom from Fear: Aung San Suu Kyi, was aired this morning on Radio 4 and will be again tonight, on the World Service so that she herself can hear it. It can be heard here on iPlayer all week. 

All of these details help to further the picture of such an iconic woman marooned in her own dilapidated house on University Avenue in Rangoon. The more details that are added to the narrative, the more moving and tragic the tale becomes. Yet far from some poetic Lady of Shallot caricature of a martyred heroine, we are reminded today also of her very real fiery spirit and determination to remain defiant. Her ally, colleague and friend, U Win Tin, who himself spent nearly two decades in solitary confinement, today smuggled a letter out of the country at great personal risk, in which he echoed her appeal for the rest of the world to “please use your liberty to promote ours”

Amnesty has heeded that plea. Yesterday we announced the launch of a new appeal, to raise funds for a mission to covertly deliver radios into Burma, to allow citizens access to unbiased information about global events. With Sarkozy visiting the BBC radio station this morning from which General Charles De Gaulle broadcast back into France to foster  and rally the resistance movement there, we are reminded today of the power of the humble radio. Video did not spell the end of it as predicted, but the Junta would not be the first figures of power that the diminutive machine has had a hand in toppling. You can find out more about the radio appeal: Breaking the Silence, and donate by going here.

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