Prague, 13 September 2013. On the occasion of the upcoming visit by Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi to the Czech Republic, the Czech nonprofit organization Burma Center Prague sends greetings from the Burmese community and expresses the hope that the democratization of Burma will include all of its citizens.
The Burmese community in the Czech Republic welcomes the news that the leader of the Burmese opposition, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Madame Aung San Suu Kyi, is planning to vist the Czech Republic to attend the Forum 2000 conference. At the same time, the Burmese commuity would like to express its regrets that Madame Suu Kyi’s longtime supporter, former Czech President Václav Havel, did not live to see this occasion. It was due to Havel’s efforts in particular that Madame Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1991.
Madame Suu Kyi has the opportunity to travel abroad and the guarantee of return to her own country as a result of the political reforms initiated by the Burmese junta in 2010 when she was released from house arrest. Currently, a nominally civilian government is now ruling Burma in which many representatives of the Army are participating in key positions. Even though the country is opening up, especially in the larger cities, and is attracting investors and tourists, these democratic and economic reforms have not yet made themselves felt in all layers of society, nor have they made themselves felt in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.
Burma Center Prague considers this time of transition to a genuine democracy to be crucial. The Czech Republic can now contribute to the successful transformation of the country by sharing its own experience with such a transformation. The organization combines Burmese and European forces to promote developments that involve Burmese citizens at all levels, including the millions living in exile, in the political decision-making processes that will lead to the creation of a society marked by mutual respect between all ethnic groups and all religions. It will also be essential to end the armed conflicts in Burma and ensure legal security for all people living there long-term.
The Burmese community in the Czech Republic is comprised of about 150 people, most of whom came here as either refugees or students and were granted asylum or made their homes here. In the year 2005, the Burmese community in the Czech Republic began its regular, symbolic actions on Madame Suu Kyi’s birthday to draw attention to her unjust imprisonment.
About Burma Center Prague:
Burma Center Prague (Barmské Centrum Praha) is a public benefit corporation established in 2006 by the Burmese community in the Czech Republic together with Czech and international supporters of Burma. The mission of the organization is to contribute to democratization in Burma, to adherence to human rights in Burma, to improve the situations of everyone inside Burma, and to improve the situations of Burmese living in exile. Within the framework of several different projects, Burma Center Prague provides aid to Burmese refugees in the Czech Republic and to Burmese self-help groups in Burma and India.
Update at 2:45pm: personal message from Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the following message of condolence on the passing of Mr. Václav Havel:
“This is not only a loss for one person or one country, it is a great loss for humankind. I can’t find the words to express my sorrow in a short message.”
She also said that she would write an article dedicated to and honoring Mr. Havel, that would be published in the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Daily News next month.
The message was conveyed to Burma Center Prague through her assistant Htin Kyaw in Burma.
PRAGUE, December 23, 2011. On the occasion of today’s state funeral of the former Czech president Václav Havel, representatives of the people of Burma express their deep sorrow at his passing and gratitude for his support. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese democratic opposition and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, paid her respects by sending a bouquet of roses, and by this she referred to a famous quote from Mr. Havel.
“Mr. Havel was a long-term supporter of Suu Kyi and of the pro-democracy movement in Burma, and his influence helped bring greater awareness of the Burmese issue in Europe and around the world”, says Sabe Soe, director of the Czech NGO Burma Center Prague. Together with other Burmese pro-democracy activists and former political prisoners, Ms. Soe conveys the message of grief from the people of Burma and their leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On Monday, Suu Kyi expressed her sadness at Havel’s passing when she arrived for a meeting at the party headquarters of the National League for Democracy in Rangoon.
On Tuesday, members of Burma Center Prague, along with Burmese activists and former Czech ambassador to Burma H.E. Jiří Šitler, formed a delegation to represent Aung San Suu Kyi as Václav Havel’s body lay in repose at The Prague Crossroads, the former St. Anne’s church turned into a cultural and spiritual center by the late president.
Tin Tin Nyo, General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma, lay a bouquet of roses with a ribbon that said “To a True Friend – Aung San Suu Kyi”, while Aung Myo Min, Director of Human Rights Education Institute of Burma and Sabe Soe lay a basket of flowers with “We Thank You – People of Burma”. Sabe Soe and Aung Myo Min then paid their respects at Mr. Havel’s coffin, while H.E. Mr. Šitler and Ko Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, stood as the honour guard.
Suu Kyi has always considered Václav Havel to be a close friend and supporter, although the two were never able to meet in person. Havel nominated Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. When she celebrated her 60th birthday while still under house arrest, Havel wrote an article entitled “A Rose for the ‘Unfree'” in the Washington Post. In that article, he expressed his wish to personally give her a rose after she gained freedom. In the end, it was Aung San Suu Kyi who presented roses to him, although not in person.
The Burma Center Prague offers royalty-free photos and a video for reporting on this topic that can be downloaded at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2146694/photos-press-release-23.12.2011.zip and at http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2146694/Havel-copyright-Burma-Center-Prague-2011.mov
Please credit these photos and the video to “Burma Center Prague”.
Events of Burma Center Prague in support of Burmese Democracy movement on 17 and 19 June 2006 in Prague.