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‘Global plans’ for Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday

June 18, 2009

From AFP

Supporters of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi made preparations around the world Thursday to mark her 64th birthday, with calls for her release from jail as she faces trial by the ruling junta.

The Nobel laureate is set to spend her birthday on Friday at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where she is being held on charges of violating her house arrest after an American man swam to her lakeside house.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention since the junta refused to recognise her National League for Democracy’s (NLD) landslide victory elections in 1990.

In Yangon, NLD members were making preparations at party headquarters for a similar celebration to those in previous years, including giving breakfast to Buddhist monks.

“We have to hold the birthday party without the host again. We would be very happy if she could be released, we are hoping and praying for this,” senior party member Lei Lei told AFP.

“We will offer a dawn meal to five monks early in the morning to mark Daw Suu’s birthday. After that we will release balloons, doves and sparrows before the small party starts,” said May Win Myint, another senior party member.

Campaigners across the world will mark the day with events ranging from live music and speeches in Malaysia, evening vigils in Ireland and Australia and debating forums in Thailand.

The website “64 for Suu” was set up to gather birthday wishes — including many via Twitter and YouTube — and has so far received nearly 10,000.

Famous names who have sent messages demanding her release include British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, footballer David Beckham and US actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

On Monday, a global petition was delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by more than 670,000 people from 220 countries, calling for the release of all Myanmar’s political prisoners, especially Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces five years in jail if convicted in her trial, which resumes on June 26. The court case has provoked international outrage and has been described as a “show trial” by US President Barack Obama.

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