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  • Documents on Democracy


In September, as many as a hundred thousand Burmese took to the streets to protest military rule, but they soon met with harsh repression. The protests were spearheaded by Buddhist monks such as U Gambira, a pseudonym for the leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance, who wrote a Washington Post op-ed from hiding on November 4 (he was arrested that same day). An excerpt appears below:

Burma's Saffron Revolution is just beginning. The regime's use of mass arrests, murder, torture and imprisonment has failed to extinguish our desire for the freedom that was stolen from us so many years ago. We have taken their best punch.

Now it is the generals who must fear the consequences of their actions. We adhere to nonviolence, but our spine is made of steel. There is no turning back. It matters little if my life or the lives of colleagues should be sacrificed on this journey. Others will fill our sandals, and more will join and follow.


On October 24 in Washington, D.C., the National Democratic Institute presented Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia, with its W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award. Her remarks in accepting the award are excerpted below:

For too long, those watching Africa have focused on personalities, relying on one person, often one big man, to lead the way.

You in this room, who work to guarantee free and fair multiparty elections, know that for too long in Africa, it has been one man, one vote, one time. But this mentality has failed Africa, undermining accountability and constitutionally defined government. It is not about the individual, the leader, but the institutions they build. . . . [End Page 183]

I am here as living proof to tell you that if the U.S. were to lose its will and go quiet on issues of liberty and human rights, that this would shake the foundations of democracy around world. . . .

I still believe that DEMOCRACY is sacred. We should not allow countries to call themselves democracies or to be accepted into global democratic institutions when, behind the rhetoric, liberty, personal freedoms, and civil rights fall prey to fear and repression.

We all know that democracy is not just about elections. It is about sustaining institutions of government and civil society that protect the individual over the State. It is about freedom of speech, and the inherent right to criticize State authorities. It is about due process and rule of law. It is about a level economic playing field, about the right to educate our children and practice any religious beliefs. . . .

So I ask the support of this audience today to ensure that I am not just remembered as the first elected woman president of Africa, but as the leader who turned a post-conflict country crippled by 25 years of decline and a civil war, with more than 200,000 dead and one million displaced, into a symbol of stability and democracy where the free market and private investment can prosper, where an empowered people, free from dependency and violence, can take their destiny into their own hands.


Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of the Republic of Indonesia, gave the keynote address at the opening of the 40th Annual Conference of the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) in Bali, Indonesia, on November 12. Indonesia's citizens received the IAPC International Democracy Award, which Yudhoyono accepted on their behalf. His speech is excerpted below:

Indonesia was one of the last countries that joined the so-called Third Wave of democracy that began in the mid-1970s. The democratic transition in Indonesia—with the world's fourth largest population, the world's largest Muslim population, in one of the world's most ethnically diverse nations—was one of the momentous events of this Third Wave of democracy that swept the world at the end of the twentieth century.

I remember those early days of democracy well. There were many skeptics. Democracy, some said, would not last long in Indonesia. The people were not ready. The country was too big. The nation was too complex. Democracy, they said, would lead to chaos and...