Saturday, 22 January 2011

Angus From Amnesty

Back in June, I posted about Burma [here]

The situation in Burma is not a good one, and this was an opportunity to bring a measure of freedom to the oppressed people of that land. Five months later, in November, Aung San Suu Kyi was released. There was much rejoicing

Today, the news has come via The China Post that she is planning to go on-line shortly -

…after years of detention when the military regime allowed her virtually no contact with the outside world, her security chief said Saturday. She may even be tweeting soon.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, released from seven years of house arrest in November, has been allowed Internet access and will begin to go online after recovering from a cold and cough, said Win Htein.

“She is delighted that she can now connect with people inside and outside the country as she's keen to build up a broad network,” said Win Htein, the security chief.

Shortly before her release, Suu Kyi said she wanted to get a Twitter account once she was freed so she could “get in touch with the younger generation.” Her aides at the time said she had a laptop computer and described her as tech-savvy.

Win Htein said Suu Kyi was the first client to receive a new mobile broadband Internet service launched by the government provider, adding that she was the first of 50 people so far to apply for it.

The 65-year-old Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest. For most of this period, she was not allowed a telephone line at her residence and was generally cut off from the rest of the world.

The ruling junta aggressively censors the Internet and blocks politically sensitive websites such as those promoting human rights. The government often slows down Internet speed or totally cuts Internet connection during politically sensitive periods. During a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in September 2007, it cut all access to the Internet and shuttered many cyber cafes.

And also today, I had a phone call “Can I speak to ******** please?” said the voice. I was a little confused ******** is a good friend from church “Er, I’m sorry, he isn’t here. Who is that please?” “I’m Angus from Amnesty International” by now, I was very confused and then this amiable Angus suddenly said “Oh, sorry, ******** is the next person on my list, can I speak to Angela Almond, please?”

“That’s ME” I said – then explained that ******** is the name of a very good friend from church [Angus said we had similar Leicester postcodes, so it probably was the same ******** !]

Angus was ringing up to thank me for my donation towards the Radios for Burma appeal, and ask a few questions [and get some more support for AI]

amnesty

He seemed genuinely pleased that I had both blogged about the appeal, and spoken about it in church. He said it had received great support nationally, and that there had been some surprising outcomes

  • farmers had been able to use the radios to hear weather forecasts which were of considerable help with plans for planting and harvesting crops
  • schools were able to use the radios for educational programmes
  • a lot of vital healthcare information was transmitted to the people in outlying areas – literally life-saving news
  • minority groups were informed of upcoming military offensives, and were able to flee to safety.

Angus also told me that after her release, Suu Kyi met with a group of people who had been involved in supporting her campaign for democracy in Burma. She had a list of people to mention – and just second on the list was Amnesty – she singled out the Radio Campaign – saying her own radio had been a lifeline for her, and she was so grateful for all the radios which AI had provided for her people.

Aung San Suu Kyi

All of which is really positive news.

I promised Angus I would blog about this again – so if you did contribute last year to the Radios For Burma Appeal, thank you [and thank you ******** – you know who you are!]

Burma has a long way to go yet – let us continue to be faithful in our prayers for Suu Kyi and her people.

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