Thursday, September 20, 2012

NED Democracy Award Acceptance Speech, September 20, 2012

 Acceptance Speech for NED’s Democracy Award
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, Senators and Representatives, and my fellow Burmese activists in exile,
It is a great honor for me to accept the Democracy Award on behalf of the Burma’s Democracy Movement. I thank to National Endowment for Democracy for this award and its consistent and effective support for the movement for many, many years. I especially thank to Carl Gershman, Barbara Haig, Brian Joseph, John Knaus, Aung Maw Zin, David Angeles and NED staff members for recognizing the small role I have play in support of the Burma’s democracy movement from away.
I am also very grateful to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for being here with us. Last time I saw her in Burma was 23 years ago in April 1989, after the Water Festival and few days before I was arrested. After she was released from house arrest in November 2010, I got a chance to speak to her on the phone. During the conversation, she said “Aung Din, you have to lose your weight.” Since then, I have tried to go to gym at least three times a week. It is a great pleasure for me to see you again, Aunty. I thank you very much for your strong and effective leadership for the peoples of Burma.
I also thank to my USCB team, Jennifer Quigley, Myra Daghapaw, Brianna Oliver and USCB board members Larry, Simon, Sam, Gordon, U Tin Maung Thaw, and Nickie, who all are here. Without them, without their support, I will not be in this room today.
While we are celebrating here today, there are about 100,000 refugees in Kachin State, northern part of Burma, in makeshift camps, struggling hard to survive under heavy rain, severe weather and infectious diseases, due to the fighting between the Burmese military and Kahin Independence Organization, after the 17 years old ceasefire agreement was broken in June last year. In the country’s west, over 70,000 refugees from Buddhist community and Muslim community have lost their homes, their villages, their neighborhoods, their properties, their families and friends, their hopes and their future, after the brutal and tragic communal conflict. In the country’s East, nearly a half million ethnic peoples are still hiding in jungles and mountains without knowing when they can have a permanent place to live and survive without fear. On the Thai-Burma border, about 150,000 refugees are under the pressure from Thai authorities to return Burma where they don’t feel safe yet. And on the mainland, several hundreds of political prisoners are still remain in prisons. Workers are trying hard to have increased their minimum wages and farmers are trying hard to take back their lands confiscated by the military and crony capitalists.
Our struggle for democracy, human rights, rule of law and equality among all ethnic nationalities are far from over. We will move forward and expend the opening wider and bigger under the great leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by peaceful means. We still need support from the outside world, especially from our true and best friend, United States of America. Please continue to lend your support for us in making of our country truly democratic, peaceful and prosperous.
God bless America and God bless Burma.
Thank You.
Aung Din
September 20, 2012