More than 2,100 prisoners of conscience are currently languishing in Burmese jails. Many of these political prisoners are democracy activists who received harsh sentences-from 25 to 100 years-simply for speaking out against the violent excesses of the military government. While in jail, they are tortured, recruited into forced labor and often denied medical care.
A United Nations report noted that many of these detentions not only break international law, but Burmese law as well. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize laureate and leader of the Burmese democracy movement, has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years and was recently denied medical care even though she is ill.
Political change is the only long-term solution to these abuses, and the AFT has a long history of working with labor activists, healthcare workers and teachers to promote grass-roots democratic change. At its convention in 2008, the AFT awarded a Burmese human rights group, the 88 Generation Students, with the 2008 President's International Democracy Award for the group's decades of struggle against the totalitarian regime. Unfortunately, the military junta has held on to power for more than 30 years through violent oppression, and many of the people honored by this award are the very political prisoners serving long prison terms.
The AFT is asking members to join others around the world who are speaking out against this injustice, and to support our brothers and sisters struggling against oppression in Burma. Please sign this petition to the U.N. that urges continued pressure on the military regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and her imprisoned brothers and sisters.
May 19, 2009