This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on Burma, conduct of elections and the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Marietje Schaake – Madam President, on 13 November, less than a week after the disputed national elections had been held, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest after spending 15 of the last 21 years effectively imprisoned for her pro-democracy thoughts. As an Iranian woman said in the movie The Green Wave , after being released from Evin prison in Tehran: ‘The moment I stepped outside I realised I had just moved from a small prison to a bigger one: that prison is called Iran’. People should not live in small or big prisons for their thoughts. The EU will see to and encourage further freedoms for all Burmese citizens and remains concerned about Aung San Suu Kyi’s wellbeing and safety, as she is being kept under surveillance by state security services. The welcome move of her release needs to be reflected in further expansions of freedoms to all citizens, which are systematically curbed through the 2008 constitution and the military junta. Elections such as those which took place in Burma this month, even if held in a climate of fear and repression, are often used by regimes to claim legitimacy and to suggest that a democracy is in place. However, any government derives its legitimacy from providing for the wellbeing of its citizens, and democracy is always more than ‘one man, one vote’. It is enshrined in democratic institutions, good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.