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Myanmar's Suu Kyi: Free Pussy Riot | The Nation

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George Zornick

George Zornick

Action and dysfunction in the Beltway swamp. E-mail tips to george@thenation.com

Myanmar's Suu Kyi: Free Pussy Riot

by Nation Washington intern Nick Myers 

Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi called for the release of the three members of Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot on September 20, while speaking at a packed Amnesty International event in Washington, DC.

“I don’t see why people should not sing whatever they want to sing,” Suu Kyi said in reference to the group, which was found guilty of “hooliganism” and sentenced to two years in prison in August.

In a February protest performance at a Moscow church, Pussy Riot played a song asking the Virgin Mary to “put [Russian President Vladimir] Putin away.” Suu Kyi added that governments must generally be open to criticism, and that she would like to see the group freed as soon as possible.

Earlier at the event, the husband and daughter of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova presented Suu Kyi with a bouquet of flowers.

The leader of Myanmar's opposition party and a vocal critic of the country’s military leaders and their record of human rights abuses, Suu Kyi spent fifteen years under house arrest before being released in 2010. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal—Congress’s highest honor—in 2008 while under house arrest, and accepted the award at the Capitol on September 19.

Suu Kyi is on a seventeen-day tour of the United States, with stops in New York, Indiana, Kentucky and California. Though her visit was heralded as a celebration of her life and Myanmar's recent flood of political reform, she urged the American government to ease sanctions on her home country.

“The help of friends is indispensable,” she said in response to a question regarding the challenges her country faces moving forward. “We particularly look to the United States because it has always been a champion of democracy in Burma.”

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