Burma Democratic Concern has the firm determination to carry on doing until the democracy restore in Burma.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Two Separate Paths

By KYAW ZWA MOE Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi has wasted no time in raising important issues—national reconciliation, dialogue with the military leaders, a nationwide conference with ethnic groups, non-violent revolution—and so on in less than two weeks since her release.

All she got from the ruling generals was sheer silence, which must be interpreted as denial aimed directly at her.

But that's not news. Burma's pro-democracy icon has called for dialogue with the junta since 1988 when she entered Burma's political arena. She's actually met with senior leaders three times.

“We met, but I can't say we had a true dialogue,” Suu Kyi told The Irrawaddy in an interview a few days after her release, when asked about her meetings with leaders, including Snr-Gen Than Shwe, in 1994, 1995 and 2000.

Her 15-year spent in detention under house arrest during the past 21 years hasn't caused her to change her ideas about the role dialogue could play in bringing about national reconciliation. But she doesn't think it will happen in the near future.
Asked if she thought she would have a chance to go to Naypyidaw to meet with the junta head in the future, Suu Kyi said, “I don't think that way. I think of how I am going to make it happen.” She said that Gandhi was very fond of the Christian hymn “Lead, Kindly Light” though he was a follower of Hinduism. The hymn says, “I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.”

“Gandhi believed that, and so do I,” said the 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate the interview over the phone. “I will do my best to walk, step by step. If I am on the right track, I will reach the right place.”

However, so far the idea of dialogue doesn't seem to be realistic. In the past two decades, Burmese political groups and the international community have urged the junta to hold talks with political and ethnic organizations, to be led by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, whose landslide victory in the 1990 election was ignored by the military regime.

All domestic and international forces and their efforts—economic sanctions, pro-engagement policies, armed struggles—have failed to get the generals to a table to hold talks with the opposition groups.

“Dialogue must be a win-win situation for both parties,” Suu Kyi said in the interview. “I have said to them [the generals] before, but they don't seem to understand it. I am not sure if they don't understand it or if they don't believe it. Perhaps it is because in the military, there no such thing as a negotiated settlement. This is something I really need to give a lot of thought to.”

If we look back at the country's political history of the past 20 years and the political approaches of the military regime, talks look to be out of the question. Realistically, the dialogue idea doesn't work, at least for now, but in politics even the seemingly impossible sometimes happens.

Real events have happened in the 10 days since Suu Kyi's release that give us a better picture of reality.

Nine private journals in Rangoon were banned for publishing big pictures of Suu Kyi and stories than were permitted; 82 HIV/AIDS patients were ordered to leave their current shelter only a few days after Suu Kyi visited the shelter, which is run by members and supporters of the NLD party.

The generals have carefully scrutinized Suu Kyi's every move since her release. They don't want to see informative coverage of her in the media or the crowds who gather to great her and hear her speak.

To deter them, government departments have taken specific actions. On Nov. 21, a few days after the journals published pictures and stories of Suu Kyi, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Board, a tool of the junta, banned 9 journals temporarily. On Nov. 24, the Health Ministry ordered the eviction of the HIV/AIDS patients under the pretext the shelter was not hygienic, according to state-run newspaper.

Suu Kyi herself has yet to become a target of the junta. Apolitical acts like her reunion with her youngest son and their visit to Shwedagon Pagoda are unlikely to draw their wrath.

However, the generals will not tolerate her politically sensitive moves, and sooner or later, if she keeps them up, she will be targeted for harassment or arrest.
Since Suu Kyi's release, the hope for change has been high among the public. However, the generals see her as a “destructive element,” the language they use to describe some opposition groups in their newspapers.

Moreover, look at two paths that Suu Kyi and the generals are now walking down. On one hand, the generals are convening a new parliament with elected candidates and forming a new government. On the other, Suu Kyi says the election complaints should be investigated, and that she will work for national reconciliation through dialogue and nonviolent ways.

At this rate, the paths of Suu Kyi and the regime will never cross. Instead, a clash between Suu Kyi and the generals may be unavoidable.


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