Thursday, 24 May 2007

Aung San Suu Kyi

The world's only detained Nobel Peace laureate who has also won an MTV award.*

Comments from the last post revealed frustration with the dearth of inspiring politicians who are concerned about people; about social issues. And, as Ariel pointed out, not concerned with such things merely in order to buy some votes. So, I thought I'd take a gander at an inspirational and considerate politician, for a change.

Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers. - (Source Unknown)

Laura Bush is currently encouraging Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release on Sunday, which is when her detention will be under review... again. The military rulers of Burma (Myanmar, since 1989) didn’t let her out for the last review, so I doubt anyone’s getting their hopes up. [UPDATE: same again, another year.]

I also doubt that Laura Bush is going to be the one to change their minds.

Anyway, last time the militia released her they then attacked her: she was stuck in her car on a bridge for 6 days. Up to 100 of her supporters were killed. And so she was arrested again.

She’s been detained for a total of 11 years and 209 days now. There’s about 1,100 other political prisoners in Burma too, let's not forget.

Suu Kyi’s father played a major role in attaining Burma’s independence form the UK in 1943. That year he was also assassinated. Her mother was Burma’s ambassador to India in the 1960s. Suu Kyi’s British husband, Michael Aris, died of cancer in 1999. When he was first diagnosed he was denied an entry visa into Burma, so Suu Kyi never got to see him. Their two children currently live in Britain.

As you likely know, there was an uprising in Burma in 1988 when the people had become a bit fed up with their leader, Ne Win. He was a nutty old fart who dabbled in a bit of numerology and one day decided to change all their currency notes to denominations that were divisible by the number 9. (YA RLY.)

So, lots of people were killed by the government, but the people were nearly successful and were allowed to form political parties. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy easily won the election in 1990. A bit too easily. The army were rather unhappy about this unexpected outcome, and so changed its mind about all this political freedom rubbish. They ignored the result, held on to power, and instead of being PM, Suu Kyi stayed locked up (house arrest began July 1989).

It seems the Western world reckons it can force Burma into becoming a democracy through sanctions. Well, that’s not going to work cause they’re run by a militia, and most of the army doesn't care about that trading, economic shite nearly so much as national security.
Plus, China won’t agree with sanctions ‘cause they’re getting a shitload of natural gas from Burma and don’t want to lose such a major source of energy supplies. And really, as if China gives enough of a rats about democracy to martyr itself anyway!
Let’s say China and everyone did agree with tight sanctions on Burma. Then you’d have absolute chaos as everyone in the army would eventually get hungry, and then their blood sugar's low so they get all narky and really cross with each other, and we’d have insurgents here and drug warlord militias there, and it would just be plain nasty.

We tend to see Burma as a Velvet Revolution gone wrong, when in fact it is an impoverished war-torn society of 55 million people, half of them under the age of 18, with armed forces of more than 400,000 men (and over a dozen insurgent armies) who know only the language of warfare. - Thant Myint-U

If foreign business hadn’t pulled out of Burma in the 1990s, due to sanctions, they might have been able to develop a strong economy and perhaps their society could have gradually evolved into a democracy. Leaving them isolated is not encouraging social change or democracy. The US are a bit like conservative parents in the fifties: ‘Fine, if you’re not going to do what daddy wants then he’s taking the lollypop away until you learn to behave.’ Well, this kid’s fine to keep playing with his guns and stuff, fuck the lollypop. Do we look like we give a shit about the happiness of the people? Anyway, who do you think you are pushing us around? You big US bully you. Who in their right mind would trust you! Ya big ninny... (Or, something to that effect.)

All the neighbours need to get involved it seems. Put pressure on the kid to loosen his grip on the gun and play nice with the other kiddies. Develop the economy and evolve to a democracy.

“For 26 years Myanmar experienced impoverishment in the name of socialism; it now appears there is to be impoverishment in the name of democracy, (thanks in part to the misguided Western sanctions against our country)." - Dr. Khin Zaw Win, former Prisoner of Conscience (jail time 1994-2005) in 'Impoverishment as Freedom'

But, jeez, wouldn't it be nice for Suu Kyi to be out and about, and having her say? Maybe being able to spend time with her kids, and visit her husband’s grave...

Go get 'em Lazza!

*In 2003, “Free Your Mind” award, MTV Europe Music Awards.