I wish you could have been with me when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, electrified the Amnesty Rights Generation Town Hall this morning at Washington DC’s Newseum.
Today’s heart-stopping moments are too many to recount – here is a small sample:
Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with unflagging conviction and courage, filling me with pride for the role Amnesty supporters like you played in securing her release and sustaining her spirits over the last 23 years.
Alex Wagner, our moderator from MSNBC, recalled how as a child visiting family in Burma she drove by Daw Suu’s compound with a feeling of fear, admiration, and yearning.
The entire audience proclaimed ourselves “all Aung San Suu Kyi” and held up a mask with her picture on it; the next moment we each turned our mask over to reveal the faces of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars.
Indeed, it’s been a long road, yet our journey is not over. Strengthen our work – donate to Amnesty International.
Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but prisoners of conscience around the world are denied their basic freedoms. We take up their cases with equal vigor. It is what makes Amnesty unique, and necessary.
The reason Aung San Suu Kyi made time during her visit to the United States to join our Town Hall was precisely because she wanted to inspire legions of activists to work on behalf of other prisoners the way they worked for her.
As Amnesty supporters, you and I have the power to change the course of history, to right great wrongs.
I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts this month during our annual Membership Drive. Thanks to a generous donor, we can match every dollar of your donation made before Sept. 30.
Political repression comes in many forms. Take the case of feminist Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, so poignantly represented at today’s Town Hall meeting.
Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were convicted of “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” for playing a protest song in a cathedral. They are headed to a prison camp for two years.
Today, Pyotr and Gera Verzilov, the husband and 4-year old daughter of present-day prisoner of conscience Nadja Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot, presented Daw Suu with a bouquet of flowers, as a torch passed from one generation of prisoners of conscience to the next.
Like Daw Suu’s imprisonment, the Pussy Riot conviction is a bitter blow to free speech. It reminds us never to take for granted the hard-fought human rights we have secured.
As long as people like the women of Pussy Riot are behind bars, we know what we must do. We must join and act for the greater good.
But Amnesty doesn’t work without you, so please, do your part to keep this movement strong – make a contribution to Amnesty International today.
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