Burmese Junta Still Fears Brave Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, Burma’s popular leader under detention for years, once said that “it is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it…” Now, the Myanmar or Burmese military junta has further extended her house arrest by 18 months.
Ms Suu Kyi’s 18-month sentence will prevent her from taking any direct part in the next year’s scheduled general election and the introduction of a new constitution, says The Times.
“Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory in the last election in 1990, a result that was never accepted by the regime.
My daughter and I have a special interest in the welfare of Suu Kyi. We all studied in the University of Delhi. In fact my daughter went to the same college where Suu Kyi spent three years — Lady Shri Ram College — and studied the same subject (Political Science).
“President Obama and the UN Secretary-General demanded her unconditional release. ‘She should not have been tried, and she should not have been convicted,’ Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said.
“(British PM) Gordon Brown said: ‘This is a purely political sentence . . . The façade of her prosecution is made more monstrous because its real objective is to sever her bond with the people for whom she is a beacon of hope and resistance.’
“Democracies across the world have denounced the sentence and announced plans to tighten sanctions, ban investment and freeze assets of one of the world’s nastiest regimes.
“As Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, noted, the reduced sentence was ‘not a concession — it is a manipulation of an illegal process. It must not be accepted by any government.’
“Two countries in particular should note his words. The first is the United States. It was not only Ms Suu Kyi who received an unjust sentence. John Yettaw, the 53-year-old former US soldier who made the bizarre swim to her house, was sentenced to a monstrous seven years in prison, despite his epilepsy, diabetes and history of post-traumatic stress. His intrusion into her home was capricious, foolhardy and attention-seeking; it was in no way criminal.
“The junta may also now be hoping that Washington will encourage the former President Clinton to undertake another mercy mission, thus handing it the recognition and legitimacy that it craves. No such visit should even be contemplated.
“The Obama Administration had been toying with the idea of relaxing some of its sanctions on Burma; it should now, in response to such obvious blackmail, tighten them sharply.
“The other country that ought to be ashamed of yesterday’s trial is China. Beijing is Burma’s largest trading partner, its apologist, protector and military ally. For almost 50 years, since the generals first seized power, China has refused to condemn their regime. It stood by when they cancelled the result of the 1998 election that Ms Suu Kyi won overwhelmingly.
“It kept silent when she was imprisoned. It made no public protest in 2007 when street demonstrations were violently suppressed and monks arrested and beaten. And all the time, China has been exploiting its own interests: securing oil contracts, buying up raw materials, building a military base in the Bay of Bengal.
“To the West, China has hinted that it has tried to soften the junta’s excesses. This looks like cynical disinformation. The junta has barely been influenced one iota. China has the means and the clout to end this tyranny. It must do so.”
Suu Kyi has spent 14 out of the past 20 years under house arrest. “She rises early, meditates, and reads widely and eclectically, from the novels of John le Carré to Buddhist theology. She plays her piano, an instrument whose tuning has been distorted by the tropical heat. She is allowed no radio, let alone a telephone or television; as far as visitors go, she is lucky if she receives a monthly visit from her doctor.