GENEVA - Myanmar's newly-released democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday that genuine democratic institutions in the country could not exist without respect for human rights.
"Human rights are the very stuff of everyday living. Without freedom and security our lives cannot be meaningful," she said in a video message delivered at the United Nations in Geneva to mark World Human Rights Day.
"I like to think that those of us who are working for democracy in Burma are defenders of human rights because we believe that without human rights there can be no such thing as genuine democratic institutions," she added.
Her comments came after the first election in two decades last month that was criticized by human rights activists and Western governments as anything but free and fair, handing an overwhelming majority to the military regime's supporters.
Suu Kyi was freed by Myanmar's military rulers from her most recent seven-year stretch of house detention on November 13.
Suu Kyi's party, which won a 1990 election but was never allowed to take power, boycotted the November 7 vote because of rules that appeared to exclude her from participating. It was subsequently disbanded by the junta.
"It is an attempt to make our lives meaningful, the lives of all those around us meaningful that we are acting as human rights defenders," she said in the video message.
She warned that discrimination against human rights defenders was one of the "more subtle forms of discrimination."
"Let us all stand together not only to defend human rights but to defend each other in our struggle for human rights," she added in a broader message to the world gathering organized by the UN.