Desmond Tutu hails Aung San Suu Kyi as Burma troops react

By staff writers
September 27, 2007

South Africa's Nobel peace winner and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has hailed the courage and inspiration of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi - as he expressed support for nonviolent direct action against the dictatorship.

According to BBC reports, Burmese soldiers have again fired shots as they attempt to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in the main city, Rangoon. Witnesses said it was not clear whether shots were fired directly into the crowd or above their heads, but at least one person has reportedly died.

The military has been broadcasting warnings that the protesters should go home or face "serious action".

In a lighter moment in the midst of a serious situation, Dr Tutu, a leading Christian campaigner against apartheid and for global justice, said that Aung San Suu Kyi was his only pin-up.

He went on: "I think we ought to celebrate the incredible courage of our sisters and brothers in Burma," he said, using the former name of Myanmar (a nomenclature imposed by the junta), where thousands have taken to the streets to demand the end of the military regime.

Up to 200,000 people defied heavy security to take to demonstrate in Yangon and elsewhere yesterday. Security forces used batons, tear gas and live rounds to crack down on the protests, killing at least four people.

"We want to salute our sister Aung San Suu Kyi, who for 11 of the last 17 years is under house arrest," the former Archbishop of Cape Town added, urging the country's military rulers to show restraint.

He continued: "It is incumbent on us to say to no -- please for goodness' sake listen to the calls of the people. The people are saying we just want freedom and democracy."

"Please, please, how can men armed to the teeth be scared of this petite, demure, beautiful woman?" the 75-year-old said, adding "she's my only pin-up in my office!"

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