Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Prodding Generals to Negotiating Table


In a program aired on Dec. 17, Aung San Suu Kyi urges Burma’s military rulers to join talks aimed at national reconciliation and discusses the future of Burmese youth both inside the country and abroad.

Q: The Burma Communist Party (BCP) was founded by General Aung San [Aung San Suu Kyi’s father] himself, who served as its secretary. This organization took a leading role in Burma’s independence movement, but had to go underground in 1948. You have said that you and the NLD are prepared to work together with any party or political organization to achieve democracy. Therefore I would like to know whether you are willing to work with the BCP and whether, after democracy is established, there is any intention of recognizing the BCP as a legal party.

A: At this time, when we are working for internal peace and reunification in our country, it is better to look forward toward the future than to look back to the past. So this is a time to work not just for one group or organization but for everyone, and for all groups and organizations. Therefore, I would like for all groups and organizations to think together about what they can do to help achieve national reconciliation.

When democracy is achieved and human rights have been fully restored, all of the groups and organizations will also gain their appropriate rights and privileges. This would apply not just to the Communist Party but to everyone. I would like to say that democracy and human rights will provide a more secure life for everyone.

Q: I am asking this question from Norway. With regard to the negotiations with the military for national reconciliation, I recall that you have said that there will not be a losing side and a winning side—but that both sides will come out as winners as a result of those talks. At this time, the military has complete control over power in the country. They also have a huge control over economic activities, and they rely on their power for the security of their daily lives. So if, as a result of these negotiations, they have to give up all of their power, or share their power, this would amount to a loss for them. How could one say that they would also be on the winning side?

A: I think that having dignity and a secure life is much better than holding on to power. That kind of a genuine secure life can be achieved only through a political solution. If everyone can agree, through negotiations and discussions, on national reconciliation, the people—including all military personnel—will be able to live a secure life. I do not believe that all of the people in the Tatmadaw [military] government are interested only in power. I think that there are also those who value dignity and living a secure life.

Q: How are you planning to successfully bring the military government to the dialogue table? I would also like to know how those of us who are living abroad can support and help you in your efforts to bring about national reconciliation. [The questioner is calling from London, and is the director of the rights group Burma Democratic Concern.]

A: To persuade the Tatmadaw government to come to the negotiation table, all of us must put our efforts together to make them understand that these talks are in everyone’s interests. Just as we are putting our efforts together, you must also put your efforts together. These negotiations are in everyone’s interest—they are for the whole country. Everyone must work together to make the Tatmadaw government understand that these talks are for the peace of mind, freedom, and secure life of all groups and organizations. All kinds of methods must be used, and I would like to say that we are also looking for new ways all of the time.

Q: Those of us who have watched the people in Burma struggle for many years to achieve democracy want to continue to support them. [The caller is a member of Australia’s parliament.] Would you advise us on ways to continue with our help to them? There are a lot of people in Australia who steadfastly support you and the people of Burma in their struggle for freedom. We heard you very clearly when you said, “Please use your freedom so that we can achieve ours.”

A: May I take this opportunity to say that we are thankful to all of our friends in Australia for the many years of help they have given us in our struggle for democracy in Burma. As to how you can help us more in our efforts: the emergence of an all-inclusive political process is very important at this time. Everyone abroad and in Burma must work together for the emergence of such a political process. So we would like all of our friends in Australia to also put their efforts together, using their own methods, so that the people governing Burma will clearly understand that an all-inclusive political process is needed for our country to really develop and genuinely get on the road toward democracy.

Q: I don’t really have a question, it is actually a request for the benefit of Burmese children and youth now living abroad. They learn about you in their social and political studies in school, and you are always on their minds. I think that they would be very happy if you could write and send some letters from Burma to all of these young people living abroad. Also, can you tell us how the young people of Burma can help and protect our country.

A: Establishing contact with our Burmese children abroad is something that I think about all the time. I would like to write to them. Also, if possible, I would like to get in touch with them on the Internet. I have been planning and making arrangements to do these things, and I hope that I can get in touch with the children of Burma directly. I would also like to ask all parents to encourage and help their children to be interested in Burma.

Q: I fled to Burma’s border while attending first-year classes for my Masters of Science degree. [The caller now lives in a refugee camp.] Now that you have been released from detention, what will you do to help students inside the country? Although there are universities in Burma, they are empty and have no practical equipment. Also, do you have plans to open more schools, computer classes, and English-language classes—not in Rangoon but in the districts and more remote areas that are hard to reach?

A: A foundation has been established with the money I received from my Nobel Prize and from other prizes, and we are helping Burmese students who live abroad through this foundation. But the help we can provide is limited by the foundation’s capabilities. We are trying to expand our activities as much as possible. As for the youth inside Burma, we cannot do as much as we would like, as our organization is a political organization. But we help as much as we can with the education of youth who have been in contact with the National League for Democracy, as well as with the families of political prisoners, and we will continue to do this. We have also arranged English-language and computer classes as much as we can. We will continue to do this as well.

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