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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Suu Kyi says ‘we must rely on ourselves’

Suu Kyi says ‘we must rely on ourselves’
Monday, 23 May 2011 16:34
Jim Andrews

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Burma’s political opposition can expect little support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and India and must now depend on its own efforts to win democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi has told a German TV panel.

‘We know in the end we must rely on ourselves, and that is not a bad thing’, she told the panel, in a programme broadcast on Sunday to Asia by the German world news channel Deutsche Welle, in cooperation with the Hertie School of Governance.

The pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi joined the round table discussion devoted to the future of Burma from what was described as a ‘secret location’ in Rangoon. 

Suu Kyi said she was particularly ‘saddened’ by India’s ‘disappointing role’ because of the links with Burma that stretched back to colonial times. The Indian government has reportedly been attempting to improve their relations with the authorities in Burma, aware of the growing influence of China in the Southeast Asian country. New Delhi has stressed that they have strategic and economic interests to protect in Burma and that the struggle for democracy is up to the Burmese people.

As for Asean, Suu Kyi said the organization could learn much from the way African countries sorted out their problems together. ‘One of the problems is that Asean talks about non-interference, in contrast to African countries’, she said. The members of the 53-state African Union take an active interest in developments in member states, and have on occasion deployed peacekeeping troops in several troubled states.

She lamented what she said was the lack of international support and poorly coordinated international aid, claiming Europe was ‘too disunited’ when it came to Burma.

She noted during the discussion that people in Burma, subject to the censored media, had been following events in the Arab world with great interest. The protests of ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen had raised questions in Burma’s exile media as to whether there might be a repeat of Burma’s 2007 ‘Saffron Revolution’ protest against the military junta, though observers claim the situation in Rangoon is very different from the streets of Cairo.

Suu Kyi said she was encouraged by the interest young Burmese appeared to be showing in politics. ‘This has been one of the greatest changes I have seen since being released (from house arrest)’.

‘Young people are much more interested now (in politics), particularly because they are frustrated and they see they must bring about change themselves.

‘[Burma’s] youth has decided it must empower itself. Young people are becoming much more self-reliant’.

Nevertheless, ‘pervasive fear’ still hindered political progress in Burma, Suu Kyi said.

Burma needed an independent judiciary as a top priority, she said. Rule of law would result in freedom for the country’s political prisoners—one of the preconditions for change.

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