News in the past 24 hours that the Burmese authorities have given permission to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to rejoin mainstream politics has been warmly welcomed by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the Dignitatis Humanae Institute’s Honorary President, and Lord Alton of Liverpool, a tireless campaigner for Burma and a leading figure within the Institute.
“I fervently pray this marks the beginning of an authentic freedom for the people of Burma in which their human dignity can be restored,” the Cardinal said. “I have just returned from visiting the country as the official envoy of Pope Benedict XVI, a highlight of which was a fruitful half-hour meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Cardinal Martino, who once served in Burma as a young Vatican diplomat, said Suu Kyi was “immensely grateful to the Holy Father for his message in which he emphasised the importance of religious freedom”.
He added: “As Burma takes these first new steps, it is important to recall that all types of liberty are absolutely crucial for building a just and peaceful future.”
This morning, the Cardinal discussed the situation in Burma and his recent visit there with Lord Alton of Liverpool, Chairman of the UK’s Cross Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity, a body formally affiliated with the Institute.
“This is excellent news,” Lord Alton said. “We have been praying for many years for this day but the prayers must continue because this is just the start and we cannot afford to be complacent. There is much work still to do. Human rights violations in Burma are unremitting and systematic – child labour, the use of rape as a weapon of war, human trafficking, repression of religion and a lack of freedom of speech to name a few.”
The Crossbench Peer continued: “As the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity rightly states: the proper relationship between the individual and the State is that the latter exists to serve the former, not vice versa. With these latest developments, my hope is that the regime in Burma is finally beginning to recognise this fundamental truth.”
Cardinal Martino and Lord Alton offered their prayers that one day “the Burmese people will have the fullness of their human dignity recognised, and that the Burmese authorities come to fully understand the concept of religious liberty that is so fundamental to the dignity of the human person, born in the image and likeness of God.”
The Cardinal concluded by taking the opportunity to pay tribute to Lord Alton’s unstinting work on behalf of the Burmese people. “Your efforts are well-known and widely appreciated, as is your fruitful and long-lasting collaboration with Christian Solidarity Worldwide,” he said. “I pray you receive continued graces and strength to continue this vital work”.