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Edinburgh honours president under house arrest in Burma

Aung San Suu KyiMarking the 60th birthday of democracy campaigner and Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, Edinburgh will grant her the Freedom of the City this month, as UNISON bestows her with honorary membership at its Conference in Glasgow.

It all started from motions by UNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch to the national union and a campaign with the Council to draw attention to the suffering of the people of Burma.

Last year, the Council unanimously voted to bestow its highest honour on Aung San Suu Kyi, who joins fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Nelson Mandela, as one of only two people not of Edinburgh origin to ever receive this award.

UNISON honorary membership was also previously granted to Nelson Mandela. On his release he spoke warmly of the strength it gave him to know that the outside world was campaigning.

In making this award, the Council has taken an active decision to raise public awareness about the continuing human rights abuses in Burma - a country with long standing connections with Scotland, where 60 years ago many Scots served in the Second World War.

Dr Sein Win, the Prime Minister in exile of Burma has been invited to Edinburgh by the International Development Group, UNISON and the City of Edinburgh Council for the events.

Now based in the US, Dr Sein Win has sacrificed his family life to campaign internationally to restore democracy and human rights to Burma. His wife and six year old daughter remained in Burma after he was force to flee for his life and liberty in 1991. They have not been allowed any contact since then.

Myanmar, as Burma is now called by the ruling junta, is led by one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world; a dictatorship charged by the United Nations with a "crime against humanity" for its systematic abuses of human rights, and condemned internationally for refusing to transfer power to the legally elected Government of the country - the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi is now serving her third term of house arrest. She was re-arrested on 30 May 2003 after the regime's militia attacked her convoy and killed up to 100 of her supporters.

The National League for continued over From page 1 Democracy (NLD) won a resounding victory in the 1990 Burmese elections, winning over 80 percent of the Parliamentary seats at stake.

The ruling military junta launched a systematic campaign to prevent the NLD from forming a government and kept NLD President Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest along with over 1300 other democracy activists.

The Freedom award will be presented by Lord Provost Lesley Hinds to Aung San Suu Kyi's son, Kim Aris, at a ceremony on Saturday 18th June in the City Chambers, with a magnolia tree planted in her honour in Princes Street Gardens. This will be followed by a street party rally in Parliament Square from 2pm to 5pm hosted jointly by Amnesty International, Burma Educational Scholarship Trust, the Burma Campaign and the Scottish Refugee Council.




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Thurs 9 June: 17.30 Scottish Parliament Dr Sein Win, Burmese Prime Minister in exile, public seminar: International Cttee of Scottish Parliament. New Click here for story and photos of event >>

Sat 11 June - 22 June 10.00 - 17.00 BEST Wishes Aung San Suu Kyi Exhibition at City Arts Centre. Painting & Photos by Chris Robinson, Norma and Maurice Joseph; cards drawn by refugee and child artists from Edinburgh and Burma as well as SSA artists. Bookable group workshops Free Printmaking and lantern workshops by Chris Robinson

Tues 14 June: 10.00 Launch Aung San Suu Kyi Mural on St John's Church, West End. Thurs

16 June: 19.00 Free event Interfaith Seminar: St George's, West End - Faith as a tool for Democracy Panel to Dr Myint Su.

Fri 17 June: 18.15 Filmhouse, Burmese Film event: 'Sacrifice' Normal Ticket Prices

Sat 18 June: 12.30 Tree planting ceremony 'Freedom of the City' ceremony to bestow the honour to Aung San Suu Kyi recognising Burma's 1300+ political prisoners

14.00 -17.00 Bring a picnic to the park before and cup cakes with candles to share - to make a birthday wish for Burma's people. 'BEST Wishes Aung San Suu Kyi' - Parliament Square: Birthday Party and rally with celebrity and Burma speakers and video link. Burmese dancers, Community Arts Groups, local bands & surprise guests. Organised by Amnesty, BEST, Scottish Refugee Week Committee and Burma Campaign UK

Sat 18 June: 16.00 Free Burma Awareness Exhibition, City Arts Centre internet café, performance from Burmese dancers, 'The Burma Play' extract.

Sun 19 June: 14.00 Royal Botanic Gardens A guided contemplative garden walk aound the Burmese collection of plants with Edinburgh Buddhist Centre/ERBG Free/Bookable tickets only Murray.Forgie@ educ.edin.gov.uk

Sun 19 June: 13.00 Free Edinburgh Refugee Centre Birthday Lunch - a typical meal eaten in Burmese refugee camps in Thailand to mark the start of Refugee Week

Sun 19 June: 15.30 Free 'The Burma Play' Full performance City Arts Centre

Mon 20 June: 18.00 Free Reception Amnesty Report on Refugees Launch St Georges Church Mon 20 June: 19.00 'The Burma Play': St Georges Church: Popular Education Event organised by BEST and the Edinburgh Active Citizenship Group with panel discussion on 'Taking action for Burma'

Tues 21 June: 19.00 'Fascist Disneyland' National Library of Scotland Causewayside Exhibition from the NLS archives and letters from Burma written by Aung San Suu Kyi with Sarah Boyack MSP, Liz Lochhead and Ian Banks reading Free Reception/Bookable tickets only: events@nls.uk

Sat 25 June: 14.00 National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge 'The Hour of Burning Clouds': Burmese Storytelling with Linda Bandalier and traditional 19th Century Burmese marionettes. Free event/Bookable tickets only: events@nls.uk

21-24 June Glasgow - UNISON Conference, honorary membership (time to be confirmed)