Suu Kyi defiant in ‘Burma’ rowAgence France-Presse . Yangon
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday brushed off orders from Myanmar’s government to stop calling the country ‘Burma’, a name widely used by democracy campaigners to defy the former junta.
The old regime changed the country’s official name some two decades ago to Myanmar, saying ‘Burma’ was a relic from British colonial rule and implied the diverse land belonged only to the Burman ethnic majority.
The country’s election commission castigated Suu Kyi last week for repeatedly using the term during recent overseas trips, accusing her and the opposition National League for Democracy of flouting the constitution.
But a defiant Suu Kyi told reporters in Yangon that she would call the country whatever she liked.
‘In a democratic nation, things should be done after viewing the desire of the people,’ she said, adding the army had renamed the country without consultation.
‘Freedom of speech... and the right to speak one’s mind freely doesn’t insult anyone. This is also about democratic principles and policy.
‘So I assume that I can use whatever I want to use as I believe in democracy.’
Suu Kyi and the NLD fiercely opposed the name change, denouncing it as a symbolic step by the generals towards creating a new country.
Global leaders have also struggled with what to call the country, which is emerging from decades of army rule under the guidance of reform-minded Prime Minister Thein Sein.
Dissidents among Myanmar inmate release
Myanmar included about 20 political prisoners in a jail amnesty announced Tuesday as opposition activists called for all remaining dissidents to be freed immediately.
The 88 Generation Students Group, which played a key part in a 1988 uprising against the former junta, said political inmates held around the country were among a group of 46 prisoners authorities began to release on Tuesday morning.
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