Why? Because the battle between the state of Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi goes on. On June 19, Suu Kyi celebrated her 65th birthday alone, except for two caretakers who share her lakeside home in Rangoon, where she has celebrated solo birthdays for 15 of the past 21 years in which she has been under house arrest.
This is a beauty versus the beast battle, borrowing the words of British historian and author Timothy Garton Ash, who wrote a popular story, Beauty and the Beast in Burma.
Daw Suu Kyi has been the victim of character assassination numerous times in the past 20 years. Physically, she was attacked by the ruling generals’ thugs when her car was mobbed in 1996 in Rangoon and again, more publicly, when her motorcade was ambushed in Depayin in upper Burma in 2003. She is regularly attacked by the regime’s media and junta-backed groups like the Union Solidarity and Development Association.
Although the regime regularly creates new schemes and plots to smear her image, she has survived and never lost the support of the people. In fact, Mrs Suu Kyi and Burmese politics have been like the two faces of a coin ever since she entered the country’s political arena during the nationwide pro-democracy uprising in 1988. But the question is, for how much longer will she be under house arrest and ignored by the regime’s leaders?
The problem between Mrs Suu Kyi and the junta is complicated. Since 1988, it’s really come down to the relationship between three players: the military government and Mrs Suu Kyi, as the opposition leader, with the international community as moderator.
Let’s look at the two key players – Mrs Suu Kyi and the regime, whose policies and style can be compared and contrasted in four areas.
First, Suu Kyi:
Ideology: liberal Western democracy; Ethics: plain honesty practised as political integrity;Force: National League for Democracy, winner of the 1990 elections, now disbanded; Methodology: dialogue (through non-violence).
Now, the junta:
Ideology: disciplined democracy (opposed to liberal Western democracy); Ethics: cunning, manipulation and oppression; Force: more than 400,000 soldiers; Methodology: “democracy road map” with seven steps (the upcoming election being step five).
So far, Mrs Suu Kyi has been unsuccessful in persuading the generals to join her in reconciliation talks, a point stressed over and over again by members of the international community. Continue reading “Democracy icon turns 65, still riling ‘the beast’” →
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