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Editors Note: Janet Benshoof wrote about the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi in our Winter 2010 edition of On The Issues Magazine, devoted to women around the world who are fighting for freedom. Benshoof described how the military dictatorship in Suu Kyi’s country was preparing to end any possibility that the Nobel Peace Prize winner could hold office.

The Associated Press reports on March 10 that Suu Kyi, in fact, will be barred from participating in future elections.

An international lawyer and activist, Benshoof dug beneath the surface, explaining the impunity of the dictatorship and the failure of world leaders to demand accountability in “Justice for Aung San Suu Kyi: End Male Power Structures.” Suu Kyi, founder of the National League of Democracy (NLD), which won the 1990 election by an overwhelming margin, “is also a prisoner of Senior General Than Shwe, the war criminal whose reign of terror over the people of Burma ranks alongside Hitler and Saddam Hussein . (T)he generals ruling Burma have escalated their power and the heinous crimes inflicted on the people of Burma,” writes Benshoof.

Benshoof continues: “Aung San Suu Kyi‘s rightful place as an elected official is forever precluded under the 2008 sham constitution in Burma (E)ven if she is released before the planned 2010 elections in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi could not run for president because she -- like all women -- lacks ‘military experience.‘“

Yet, even as the military dictatorship ruling in Burma creates more obstacles, Aung San Suu Kyi stands as an example, worldwide, of the power of peaceful advocacy, as described in the poem by Maureen McNeil and song, below .

by Maureen McNeil

Above all, you act
on your love for Burma
and resist violence.
Your actions show me freedom
and how to create truths.

Above all, your commitment
teaches me to focus, to become
a symbol of my desire
so that I may live simply.

Above all, I prize
your refusal to let fear
enter your house. This opens
you to your people.
Without fear I discover
inside myself things
bigger than me.

March 10, 2010