March 21, 2019

Aung San Suu Kyi calls for “change and democracy” in Myanmar

Suu Kyi mobbed as she goes to the local shop to buy a newspaper and bread for the first time in ten years. Nah she actually decided to talk about democracy instead.

Aung San Suu Kyi freed after 10 years of house arrest has called on her supporters to help change Mynmar saying “I’m not going to be able to do it alone”.

Suu Kyi was released only six days after Myanmar’s first general election in 20 years. This is of course an ambiguous statement because generals are not ‘elected’ in Myanmar, they appoint themselves.

The military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won the election but many observers are suspecting there was widespread fraud involved.

Suu Kyi’s party the National League for Democracy party won the last election back in 1990 but were never allowed to take power. The NLD boycotted the elections this time around and were promptly disbanded by the real rulers of Myanmar who wear uniforms with lots of medals and ribbons.

Declaring “I am for national reconciliation, I am for dialogue … whatever authority I have, I would like to use toward that end,” Suu Kyi announced she was prepared to talk with all parties including ruling General Than Shwe to help return Myanmar to the “rule of law”.

Just what she can achieve is unclear. Having spent 15 of the last 21 years in detention, Suu Kyi is well familiar with the consequences of annoying those in charge. In the past as soon as she has stepped too far out of line they have simply shut her away.

Unsually when a dictatorship decides to ’embrace’ democracy it is because they want something. That something is never political openness or freedom of speech.

Their motives are normally to do with money and power. They are wanting sanctions lifted or to be able to join a trade grouping of some kind. Usually the price of the Western nations is the need to demonstrate a commitment to greater political and personal freedom in the country under totalitarian rule.

Just what the Myanmar General’s motives are behind the elections and Suu Kyi’s release are unclear. What we can be certain of is that it has nothing to do with democracy and human rights and everything to do with staying in power and getting richer.

The media in the west wants to dress Suu Kyi’s release up as some kind of ‘Nelson Mandela moment’ in Burmese history. In reality they are being used as pawns just Suu Kyi is in a wider game of power maintenance by rulers who have no intention of improving political freedom and human rights.