Manila, Philippines : About 70 activists rallied Friday in front of the Myanmar Embassy in the Philippines, demanding the release of pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of her 65th birthday.
The mostly women demonstrators carried large posters of the Nobel Peace laureate staring out from barbed wire.
The activists with yellow flowers recited poems, sang songs, and called for democracy in the junta-led country. They sang “Happy Birthday,” slicing a cake with candles forming the number 65. Her birthday falls on Saturday.
Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years by Myanmar’s ruling generals.
Rally leader Egoy Bans of the Free Burma Coalition urged Philippine President-elect Benigno Aquino III’s administration and other Southeast Asian leaders to step up pressure on Myanmar — also known as Burma — to free Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners so they can participate in this year’s election.
“We see her continued detention as an insult to democracy and justice, as women in Burma have long been suffering and continue suffering from sexual abuses and denial of their fundamental rights,” said activist Yuen Abana.
“Calling for her immediate release is our best gift for (Suu Kyi) for her birthday,” Abana said.
Myanmar’s military regime is under economic and political sanctions by many Western nations because of its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the last election in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.
The NLD declined to reregister for Myanmar’s elections planned for this year as stipulated by new election laws. The party said the new laws were unfair and undemocratic because Suu Kyi and other people convicted of political offenses are barred from taking part in the vote.