‘Maintain and Be Proud of Your Ethnic Identity’ Say Suu Kyi amid Whirlwind Trip to United States


‘Maintain and Be Proud of Your Ethnic Identity’ Say Suu Kyi amid Whirlwind Trip to United States

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ethnic people must have the right to be free to teach their own language, must be proud of their ethnic identities, and must maintain their culture and literature, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed when meeting the Burmese community in Fort Wayne, Indiana in The United States on September 25.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left, embraces Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the University of San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate who spent fifteen years under house arrest during Burma’s rule by the military junta, said to the audience of Burma exiles, “The dignity for the country as a whole decreases when its ethnic people lack the right to study their own language. My party [The National League for Democracy] and I have a policy to let ethnic people study their own language.”

She said that ethnic people should be proud of their identity, maintain their culture and literature to ensure their preservation, and that even Burmese across the world people should not forget their own language.

Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets San Francisco's Burmese community during a talk at the University of San Francisco, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Of the many Burmese and ethnic people who have settled in third countries, some of their newest generation cannot speak their own language, be it Burmese or an ethnic language, and instead only speak English.

“Parents have a responsibility to teach their children to speak Burmese,” said Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi has faced some criticism for her silence on the issue of fighting in Kachin State between Tatmadaw and ethnic armed force and the issue of conflict between ethnic Arakan and Rohingya in Burma during her trip across the United States. Some ethnic leaders and rights activists have also criticized her for urging the US government to lift its sanctions against Burma by firmly stating that it is not time yet to remove them.

In her address, Suu Kyi told the Burmese and ethnic people in Fort Wayne to look back to Burma and ask what they can do to help because even though they do not have to go back, they can still help from The United States.

Additionally, she stressed the importance of education in Burma, highlighting that fifteen-percent of the people in Burma cannot afford to pay for schooling despite education being important for everyone and the development of the country.

Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the University of San Francisco after receiving an honorary doctorate degree on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

“To help education is to help the country,” Suu Kyi said, adding later, “Education is giving as much as you can instead of taking back.”

At an earlier stop at the United Nations in New York City, Suu Kyi blamed the extended military junta for making Burma’s educational system so poor because they only intended education to be used as propaganda.

In the last year Burma has undergone unprecedented political reform, including the release of political prisoners, the end of media censorship, and efforts by the government to end ethnic fighting in the country, an important goal that still has yet to be reached.

Suu Kyi said that she condemns any rights abuses happening during the ongoing conflict in Kachin State, but she doesn’t wish to criticize either side in the conflict, the Burmese government of Kachin rebel army, because she doesn’t want to add fire to either group’s actions.

Meanwhile, a collection of twenty-three Kachin community organizations spread worldwide penned an open letter to the democracy icon on Wednesday that is critical of her silence on the Kachin conflict and invites her to visit Kachin refugee camps along the Sino-Burmese border.

“Human rights abuses committed by the Burmese army against our people include: rape and gang-rape against women and children, the elderly and disabled; killings of many victims of sexual violence; arbitrary executions; torture; mutilations; beatings; forced labor; mortar bombing and burning of villages; looting of villages and other thefts; and use of child soldiers, many of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” read the letter.

“Given the climate of violence, fear and suffering our people are enduring every day, it is disheartening not to hear you speak out against the injustice of those who have been forcibly silent. Instead, you declared you have a soft spot for the Tatmadaw that your father founded, the very institution that is responsible for such miseries.

“As a renowned champion for human rights, by not condemning the abuses in Kachin State you are not only condoning the state-sanctioned violence, but you exemplified to the masses in the country that the notion of conditional human rights is tolerated.”


More articles from issue 05/2 More articles from issue 02/3
More articles from issue 05/2
- Ethnic Political Party Alliance Calls for Federal Cooperation in Peace Process

- New Formed Mon Researcher To Protect Old Kingdom

- Seven Arrested in Lamine sub-Township Drug Bust

- US Delegation Meets Ethnic MPs in Naypyidaw

- Two Mon Parties Reaffirm Agreement to Unite

- A house divided will fail to win power for the Mon

- Questions Arise as Reports of Additional Military Training Surface

- Burma Tour Agency Offers Spiritual Travel Experience

- Reformist Burmese Government Continues to Use ‘Divide and Rule’ Colonial System

- Forty-Three Rohingya Boatpeople Walk Out Freely from Prison in Moulmein

- Federalism Agenda in Burma

- ‘Maintain and Be Proud of Your Ethnic Identity’ Say Suu Kyi amid Whirlwind Trip to United States

- Concerns Grows Over Threat of Increased Drug Use in Mon State

- Government Land-Seizure Investigation Committee Moves to Karen State

- Ethnic Mon in America Welcome Suu Kyi’s Visit With Words of Advice

- First Permitted Commemoration of International Peace Day Marks in Moulmein

- Ethnic Groups Issue Their Own Peace Plan

- Ethnic Mon Monk and Right Activists Make Donation to Insein Prison

- Ethnic Mon Monks Face Accusations of Partiality in Face of Difficult Political Talks

- Political Reform Comes at Cost of Ethnic Representation in Naypyidaw

- NMSP Outlines Party Objectives at 65th Mon Revolution Day

- NMSP maintains “wait and see” Policy

- Ethnic Mon MPs Meet Mon Migrants in Mahachai

- Pa-oh group agrees to a ceasefire with the Burmese government.

- Eight Thai Citizens Facing Prison in Burma

- Ethnic Languages to be Taught in Burmese Schools

- Ethnic Political Party Alliance Requests Reforms to Government Census Lists

- Initial Agreement Reached Between 88 Generation and Two Mon Political Parties

- Ethnic Conference Through to Find out Peace Hopefully (Interview)

- Starting Historic Journal, The Than Lwin Times (Interview)

- KNU says Burmese Government does not Want Real Political Dialogue

- Remembering Mon leader Nai Non Lar

- Mon Curriculum Brought to President Thein Sein

- Ethnic Mon Buddhist Doctor To Teach in Germany

- Mon Leadership at a Crossroads (Opinion)

- Ethnic Mon in Sangkhlaburi Join Buddhist Chanting to Celebrate the Buddhist Lent

- Educational Funding Possibilities Arise as Multi-Ethnic Curriculum Argument Increases

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