Monday, October 31, 2011

Revoluton of Spirit

Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech for the Nobel Peace Prize was most impactful to me because of the recognition of the entire group of people and not just accepting it as the work she did personally. Her mother worked tremendously for democracy and decent human rights in Burma. After winning her election with 82% of votes, the military voided it all causing all of her work to be voided as well. She had the brains, the determination, and the civil backing, but not enough authority. “…in the last resort, through the sheer economic un-workability of totalitarianism this present regime will be swept away. And today in the face of rising inflation, a mismanaged economy and near worthless Kyat, the Burmese Government is undoubtedly reaping as it has sown.” It was sad to read about the misfortune of her and of the progression of Burma. She never made it about her; it was always for the greater good of the population in struggle. The totalitarian regimes run rampant with no struggle and no one in the population is able to stand against them.

In Burma now, they have made some progression towards democracy. In 1990, for the first time in 30 years, the government of Burma held free elections. But the winning election results were annulled by the State Law and Order Restoration Council. Burma has taken up the policy of presidential Republic, where two branches of government are present, but the executive branch works separately from the legislative branch. Although, the human rights still lack in current day Burma; forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor still exist, and the military is also notorious for rampant use of sexual violence as an instrument of control, including allegations of systematic rapes and taking of sex slaves.

Aung San Suu Kyi

The speech that I found to be more interesting and stood out the most was the one from Aung San Suu Kyi’s son. She was under house arrest at the time, fighting for what she got the Nobel Peace Prize for, and could not go and accept the prize herself. Throughout the speech her son talked of many of her selfless acts and opinions. He said, in the beginning of the speech, “ firstly, I know that she would begin by saying that she accepts the Nobel Prize for Peace not in her own name but in the name of all the people of Burma.” He went on to say how she would probably say the prize belongs to them, not her. I find this to be an amazing display of selflessness. Even though she fought for it, she was on house arrest, and stayed on house arrest for 16 years for the fight for democracy in Burma, and she sacraficed so much she still wouldn’t accept it for herself.

In modern day Burma there is still hostility and the fight for democracy going on. The military had taken prisioner thousands of people, an estimated 6,359 people, many of which are political leaders, or representatives. In the article I read it said that the prisioners that were released were released in a liberation gesture. Even though the hostility continues the release of prisioners in encouragement that they are getting closer to a democracy in Burma. They have not released some of the more prominent political figures such as Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi. In the article it also says that Aung San Suu Kyi was still playing a major role in the fight for democracy.

Finding Peace in Dignity

The speech that struck me most was Kofi Annan’s speech “The United Nations in the 21st Century.” In his speech he states, “ Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the conditions for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security” (627). I never thought that dignity would be so important to finding peace that it must be sought in order to have peace at all, but he shows how this is true. I learned that respecting all people equally is what we must come to before we can have peace in the world. People must be able to express who they are and not fear being oppressed just by being themselves. Through freedom, respect, security, and dignity for all we can find peace in our world.

Since 2001 the United Nations has still been trying to create peace and stop wars all over the world. They have also been promoting democracy in country with struggling governments and trying to further develop those countries. In addition to this the United Nations has been striving to improve humanitarian issues dealing with topics like education and health. They are still working for peace today in places like Afghanistan because maintaining peace is at the top of their list.

Exploration Seven

My favorite speech was The Revolution of Spirit, by the son of Aung San Suu Kyi. The part that stuck out the most to me was how, even though Aung Suu was under house arrest for years, her political party managed to capture 82% of the seats in parliament, only to be voided by the government of the time. It amazed me how so much could be accomplished by following all the rules and doing so peacefully. It shows that, because of Aung Suu’s family, the people of Burma were ready for a change and they were willing to make that change peacefully and within the laws. My favorite quote was near the end, when Aung Suu is quoted as saying: ‘The quest for democracy in Burma is the struggle of a people to live whole, meaningful lives as free and equal members of the world community. It is part of the unceasing human endeavor to prove that the spirit of man can transcend the flaws of his nature.’

This is a link to an article in the New York Times about change towards democracy in the government of Myanmar.

The government of Myanmar has started to release some of the political prisoners they arrested, but there are still many in captivity. Aung San Suu Kyi was released, but has not came out and made any huge advances yet. Since this speech was written, the military dictator has stepped down, and a leader was elected democratically by the Burmese people. One issue still being dealt with by the people of Myanmar is poverty and government corruption. In this article, one man describes the government as being similar to the Soviet government. He says that the people in power do well financially and take bribes, while the rest of the population is trapped in poverty.

Exploration Seven

I really like the speech The United Nations in the 21st Century by Kofi Annan. It talks about the goals and accomplishments of the United Nations in the 21st century, and the importance the UN can have on society. From reading this, I got a clearer idea of that the UN is about and why it strives to accomplish certain tasks. This speech discusses the importance of individual rights, peace among all peoples and world tolerance and understanding. I now know some goals of the UN, showed in the quote, “From this vision of the role of the United Nations in the next century flow three key priorities for the future: eradicating poverty, preventing conflict, and promoting democracy” (627, para. 11). These are not the only goals of the UN but they are important ones that this group continues to strive in accomplishing.

I found a website that shows and explains the United Nations current peacekeeping operations. It shows that this group is hard at work on peace and equality among many countries. Led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or DPKO, the UN is on 16 different peace operations in Africa, the America's, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The UN will always have different missions to go on because the world is not a peaceful place quite yet. I hope that someday it will be, but even so, the UN continues to make a difference in many countries. Their efforts are appreciated but more people should research what they are doing. Doing this research has shown me that i need to pay more attention to what is going on around me and appreciate the good that this group is doing.

You can find more info on

Exploration seven

Out of the three Nobel Prize speeches, Kofi Annan’s struck me as the most powerful and the most important. He focused on what needs to happen in the future, and of changes that must be made in order to preserve humanity for the 21st century. I specifically liked his recognition of the importance of the individual. Kofi stated that we need to focus “on improving the conditions of the individual men and women who give the state or nation its richness and character,” because “genocide begins with the killing of one man…a campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ begins with one neighbor turning on another (Annan 626).” It all begins with the individuals that make up a state, not the state that makes up the individuals. That was a point that I had never fully taken into account. When you watch CNN or Fox news, they don’t broadcast stories of a single individual, they only report on whole nations and states. Kofi’s speech reminded me of the importance, and most importantly, the power, of each and every individual.

Kofi Annan retired from his position as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2006. His main focus, besides advocating human rights, has been the HIV/AIDs pandemic, along with preserving peace in Africa. Even though Kofi is no long the seventh Secretary-General of the UN, he still has played a key role in securing peace. In 2008/2009, Kofi helped to prevent more bloodshed in Africa after a bloody-election rocked Kenya. Kofi has also established the Kofi Annan Foundation, whose mission is to promote sustainable development, Peace, and Human Rights.

This is the link to Kofi’s foundation, and the overview of Kofi’s recent works in Kenya.

Peace Prize - Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi winning a Noble Peace Prize was very important. She fought nonviolently by creating the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, to make a stand for the freedom of Burma. She was put in house arrest for 16 years to stand up for Burma and its people. She made many personal sacrifices during her stand which included not being allowed visitation between her and her family, and eventually missing the death of her husband in 1999. She would not withdraw from politics nor give up the chance to free Burma.

Her son quoted in her speech that "She would say that this prize belongs not to her but to all those men, women, and children who, even as I speak, continue to sacrifice their well being, their freedom, and their lives in pursuit of a democratic Burma." It's important that she believes that all her work and sacrifices will help Burma become free, not that just herself will be helped. Her selflessness is very admiring and stood out to me.

Since November 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest and is still involved in politics.