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Richard S. Ehrlich: Aung San Suu Kyi On MySpace

Aung San Suu Kyi On MySpace.Com


by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Aung San Suu Kyi, the word's most famous political prisoner, now has a MySpace.com Web page, created by a Washington DC organization which hopes Internet activists will help free her from house arrest in Rangoon and donate money.

"Female, 61 years old. Status: Single," says Suu Kyi's introduction on MySpace, next to her color photo.

The Burmese widow's British husband died several years ago, leaving their two sons to grow up overseas while she has languished for 11 of the past 16 years under house arrest in Burma, a country also known as Myanmar.

"Religion: Buddhist. Zodiac Sign: Gemini. Smoke / Drink: No / No. Children: Proud parent. Education: College graduate," her page adds, along with other personal data.

Freedom Campaign established her MySpace page so a relatively young, hip, cyber-active audience can learn more about the Nobel Peace laureate, and pressure the military regime to allow democracy in the impoverished, isolated, Buddhist-majority Southeast Asian country.

The site was designed by a San Francisco Bay area company, Bass Web Design, which has worked for the satirical animated television series, South Park, among other clients.

In her "About me" section, Suu Kyi was described as a heroine, but the adjective was apparently misspelled, making her sound a bit druggy:

"In an increasingly jaded world of political apathy and power-hungry institutions, Aung San Suu Kyi is truly that rare heroin of legend -- a symbol of hope -- championing the rights of individuals in the face of human rights violations and dictatorial oppression."

MySpace is a free, extremely popular, Web site which invites people to create and link uninhibited, personalized pages -- including photographs and other information -- and write spontaneous "comments."

Suu Kyi's MySpace page is already a success among more than 160 people who were asked, or inspired, to become her "friends" and link her to their own MySpace pages.

For example, Suu Kyi now has an online "friend" coyly named, "no commercial potential," who commented: "Thank you for adding me and thank you for making this page. She is in my heroes list. Burma -- no oil there, hence the West didn't go in. Typical and sad. Pleased to meet you."

One click on "no commercial potential" connects to a MySpace site revealing that person is British, concerned about UFOs, and convinced that President George W. Bush is an "extreme neo-conservative, murderer," and British Prime Minister Tony Blair is an "extreme brown nose, murderer."

The Brit's page also displays a news photo of hooded Iraqis in a naked pile being abused by Americans in Abu Ghraib prison, a traffic sign defaced to read "STOP BUSH," a woman wearing an "Impeach Bush" t-shirt, and a fake photo of Bush holding a sign that says: "Will Kill for Oil."

Back on Suu Kyi's page, an ethnic "Asian" mother named Bunny Ninja, in Big Bear City, California, commented that Suu Kyi's life was "such an inspiring story -- can't wait to see the film."

She was referring to Freedom Campaign's announcement about an upcoming music video, "Unplayed Piano" by Damien Rice, plus footage from performances by Swiss Chris at the Blue Note Jazz Club and CBGB's in New York City, dedicated to Suu Kyi.

Wendy, 28, in Brooklyn, New York, commented that Suu Kyi was "an amazing woman and more people need to know her name."

Wendy's MySpace confessed, "I'd like to meet: friends, white people, black people, Chinese, Japanese, hookers, strippers, midgets, dwarfs, hustlers, liars, saints, psychos, homeless, muppets, puppets, dogs & cats, cartoons, celebrities -- pretty much anyone that will say 'hello' to me."

Launched several weeks ago, www.myspace.com/thefreedomcampaign displays Suu Kyi's page and links to Freedom Campaign's Web site which asks viewers for tax deductible donations, "to raise awareness for Aung San Suu Kyi."

Freedom Campaign said it was a non-profit organization incorporated in 1993, and a joint effort between the Human Rights Action Center and US Campaign for Burma.

The campaign also wants MySpace viewers to "sign the UN Security Council petition for Burma."

The petition -- which the Bush administration also favors -- calls on the United Nations to intervene in Burma so Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party can take power.

In 1990, during Burma's last election, Suu Kyi's NLD won more than 80 percent of parliament's seats.

The ruling military ignored the poll results, and has harassed NLD members ever since, resulting in widespread arrests, abuse, and some deaths in prison of NLD members, according to human rights groups.

Burma's military regime is one the world's worst abusers of human rights, according to London-based Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch in New York, the U.S. State Department and other monitors.

"The military regime ruling Burma continues to rape, imprison, torture, enslave, and murder its own people," Suu Kyi's page says.

"Burma, a country rich with natural resources and beautiful pagodas, is home to 1,200 political prisoners and more child soldiers than any other country in the world. It has a proud and dignified history, yet today lives in fear."

Governed by the military since 1962, Burma consistently denies all such reports and allegations, and insists Suu Kyi must be restrained because she is secretly working with Washington to destabilize the country, so foreigners can exploit it.

Internet use is forbidden to most Burmese, and the media is controlled by the regime, so Suu Kyi's MySpace page is mostly for people outside the hermit nation.

*************

Copyright by Richard S. Ehrlich, who has reported news from Asia for the past 28 years, and is co-author of the non-fiction book of investigative journalism, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is http://www.geocities.com/asia_correspondent

-ENDS-

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