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Journal of Democracy 11.3 (2000) 182-187
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Documents on Democracy
Two events in Washington, D.C., commemorated the tenth anniversary of the May 1990 parliamentary elections in Burma, which were won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy (NLD) but not honored by the military government. The National Endowment for Democracy sponsored both a panel discussion hosted by the Czech embassy on May 15 and a luncheon on Capitol Hill the following day addressed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Both events featured the showing of a videotaped message by NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which is excerpted below:
The elections of 1990 are an important landmark in the modern history of Burma. After three decades--almost three decades--of military dictatorship, finally the people of Burma were going to be able to vote for a government of their choice. The elections of 1990 were free and fair. It was one of the freest and fairest that had taken place in this region at that time. But unfortunately, the results of the elections were not honored.
It seemed that the military regime had not expected the people to vote for the National League for Democracy. Or certainly, not to vote so overwhelmingly for the National League for Democracy. We were very proud and happy with the results of the elections of 1990, not because our party won more than 80 percent of the seats, but because the elections proved that the people of Burma were politically mature. . . .
If the people of Burma had not voted for us in 1990, the world would not have known that this country wanted democracy. And by refusing to honor the results of the election, the military regime also made it clear to the world that they did not want democracy.
For the last ten years, we have been struggling for the right of the people to elect their own government, for the results of the elections of 1990 to be recognized. During these ten years, there have been many casualties. Many of those who were elected by the people were [End Page 182] imprisoned, forced to resign from their membership of Parliament--although that is not legal, because until Parliament itself has met, no Member of Parliament can resign. Some were forced to go abroad to pursue their democratic activities. Many are still working for democracy but under very difficult circumstances. We have not given up our struggle, and we are not going to give up our struggle. . . .
We are particularly grateful to our friends and allies all over the world for supporting us in our endeavor to have the results of the 1990 elections recognized at this time, when the military regime are trying hard to pretend that the results of the elections are no longer valid. The results of these elections will remain valid until such time as the Members of Parliament elected by the people have had a chance to get together and decide what the next step is going to be.
It is for this that we have been working, and it is for this that the Committee Representing the People's Parliament was founded in 1998. The Committee Representing the People's Parliament, together with the National League for Democracy and other political parties, including a number of political parties representing different ethnic nationalities of Burma, will continue to work together to bring democracy to Burma, democracy that will bring human progress to our country, that will ensure the people a secure life, a life of liberty, and a life of development, based on human values.
At the 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Czech vice-minister of foreign affairs Martin Palou‰ introduced a draft resolution on Cuba. Excerpts from his remarks follow:
Our initiative is based on the recognition of, and respect for, the elementary standards of the international human rights instruments, which have to be valid for all members of the international community and which underlie all activities of this Commission. The principle we want to defend is simple: Since we believe that human rights are indivisible...