(versión en español de esta página)

Cover of book Letters From Burma - 1996

  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is modest and soft spoken. And depending on whether you believe the military rulers of Burma or the Nobel committee, she is either a puppet of imperialism or one of the most courageous women alive.

  The woman who has challenged one of the world's most repressive military regimes stands only five-foot-four inches and weighs only 100 pounds. She usually appears in public with flowers pinned behind her ears, adding to her fragrant appeal. But her petite appearance and gentle manners take nothing away from her tremendous conviction.

  Seated under a huge painting of her famous father, it's easy to see the resemblance. At her first public appearance in 1988, more than half a million Burmese came to hear the new freedom fighter, -first they were attracted by the famous name, and then mesmerized by the same captivating manner and riveting speeches.

click photo for larger original image click photo for larger original image



Excerpts from the book
LETTERS FROM BURMA (1996)
by Aung San Suu Kyi

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please buy Suu Kyi's books. You will surely enjoy her engaging prose and the books fine illustrations. And you will help her and her party in their long struggle against the Myanmar's military rulers that have stubbornly opposed democracy and human rights.

  Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the struggle for human rights and democracy in Burma. Born in 1945 as the daughter of Burma's national hero Aung San, she was two years old when he was assassinated, just before Burma gained the independence to which he had dedicated his life. After receiving her education in Rangoon, Delhi and at Oxford University, Aung San Suu Kyi then worked at the United Nations in New York and Bhutan. For most of the following twenty years she was occupied raising a family in England (her husband was British), before returning to Burma in 1988 to care for her dying mother. Her return coincided with the outbreak of a spontaneous revolt against 26 years of political repression and economic decline. Aung San Suu Kyi ('Suu' to her friends and family) quickly emerged as the most effective and articulate leader of the movement, and the party she founded went on to win a colossal electoral victory in May 1990, even though she had been put under house arrest in July 1989. After the election the military rulers refused to transfer power to a civilian government as it had promised, and kept Aung San Suu Kyi under arrest until July 1995.

  Aung San Sun Kyi is an honorary fellow of Oxford University. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In its citation the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that in awarding the Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi, it wished 'to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means'. Aung San Suu Kyi is also author of several books, including Freedom from Fear and The Voice of Hope.

YOUNG BIRDS OUTSIDE CAGES

  Throughout the years of my house arrests my family was living in a free society [England] and I could rest assured that they were economically secure and safe from any kind of persecution. The vast majority of my colleagues who were imprisoned did not have the comfort of such an assurance. They knew well that their families were in an extremely vulnerable position, in constant danger of interrogation, house searches, general harassment and interference with their means of livelihood. For those prisoners with young children it was particularly difficult.

  In Burma a number of political prisoners who were put in jail for their part in the democracy movement were kept there without trial for more than two years. Only after they were tried and sentenced were they allowed family visits: once a fortnight, -for a mere fifteen minutes.

  I was not the only woman political detainee in Burma: there have been - and there still remain - a number of other women imprisoned for their political beliefs. Some of these women had young children who suddenly found themselves in the care of fathers worried sick for their wives and totally unused to running a household.

  When the parents are released from prison it is still not the end of the story. The children suffer from a gnawing anxiety that their fathers or mothers might once again be taken away. They have known what it is like to be young birds fluttering helplessly outside the cages that shut their parents away from them.

REAL COURAGE

  There is nothing to compare with the courage of ordinary people whose names are unknown and whose sacrifices pass unnoticed. The courage that dares without recognition, without the protection of media attention, is a courage that humbles and inspires and reaffirms our faith in humanity. Such courage I have seen years after years.

LAW AND ORDER [in 1996]

  Hospitality is no longer simple in Burma. Staying overnight in a house other than your own involves more than friendship, good conversation and a cool mat. Visitors must make up their minds before too late an hour if they intend to stay the night, because their presence has to be reported to the local Law and Order Restoration Council (LORC) before nine o'clock in the evening. Failure to 'report the guest list' could result in a fine or a prison sentence for both the guest and the host. Nobody may go away for the night from his own home without informing the local LORC as well as the LORC of the place where he will be staying. The authorities have the right to check at any time during the night to see if there are any unreported guests or if any of the members of the family are missing. Households which shelter members of the NLD or their supporters tend to be subjected to frequent 'guest checks' these days.

SOME RECENT HISTORY

  In 1947, on 19 July, six months before Burma was officially declared a sovereign independent nation, my father and several of his colleagues were assassinated while a meeting of the Executive Council was in session. The crime was arranged by an envious politician.

  On March 1962, the democratically elected government was removed by a military coup. The students of Rangoon University did not respond favourably to the establishment of military rule. Events took a nasty turn on 7 July, when soldiers were ordered to open fire on the students. It was officially declared that only sixteen students had been killed, but there are claims that the number of dead was well over one hundred. The tragedy of Rangoon University culminated at dawn the next morning: the Students' Union building was dynamited by order of the authorities and reduced to rubble. Some say the building was still full of students, all of whom were killed in the blast.

  Many years later, on 23 July 1988, as a result again of student unrest, the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP), which had dominated the country for a quarter of a century, held an emergency Congress in which the top leaders of the BSPP resigned. But within a matter of days it became clear that the new administration had no intention of abolishing one-party dictatorship. Again the people of Burma poured out on to the streets in a great, spontaneous demonstration of their desire for a governing system that would respect their will.

  But it is never easy to convince those who have acquired power forcibly of the wisdom of peaceful change. On the night of 8 August the army moved to crush the demonstrations, shooting down thousands of unarmed people. The killings went on for four days, but the demonstrations continued, and the new president also resigned. On 18 September a new military junta assumed power, with what has often been described as an Orwellian title: the State Law and Order Restoration Council or SLORC.

  The SLORC proclaimed that it would establish multi-party democracy in Burma within a short period of time. More than 200 parties registered, among them the National League for Democracy (NLD). From the very beginning the path the NLD had to tread was far from smooth. The enthusiastic support of the public brought upon the party the unfriendly attention of the authorities.

  The elections of May 1990 were hailed as one of the freest and fairest ever, and the NLD won 82 per cent of the seats [with more than 60 percent of the popular vote]. But as this was not the result SLORC had expected, it decided to forget its earlier promise and indicated that the new job of the elected representatives was only to draw up a constitution. Furthermore, later SLORC proceeded to organize a National Convention in which less than one fifth of the delegates were the elected representatives of the people.



DR. MAY WIN MYINT - ANOTHER TYPICAL CASE

  In October 1997, Dr. May Win Myint and some other NLD members went to the town of Mayangone to found a local NLD youth wing. The authorities prevented the meeting from taking place and stopped the NLD members before they could reach the office. That night military agents arrested her and seven other NLD members and accused them of disrupting the peace and stability of the country. They were denied access to legal counsel, and all were sentenced to 7 years in prison. Dr. May Win Myint was retained in prison until 2008, when she was finally released. She was elected Member of Parliament in April 2012.

Authocracy vs. Democracy

  Suu Kyi is well prepared intellectually, as can be verified reading an excerpt of her paper "Empowerment for Peace and Development", in which she rebukes the argument of the convenience of authoritarianism "for some particular countries."

2013 UPDATE

  SLORC changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), but its repressive policies and violation of human rights continued unabated until 2011 when it dissolved, after the military rulers had a new constitution approved and new officials took charge of the government.

  Suu Kyi, the leader of the Burmese (Myanmar) National League for Democracy (NLD), began her last period under house arrest in May 2003 following a violent clash provoked by a pro-government mob attacking her supporters. It was Suu Kyi's third period of house arrest. The Burmese generals prolonged her arrest shamelessly and arbitrarily, with the old, worn out argument of "national security", normally used by authoritarian governments ...and which usually just means "ruler security."

  She was finally released in November 2010. Since 1989, she has been detained for more than ten years. Even when released, her movements have been restricted, and her followers arrested and often abused.

  BBC - 29 March 2010
Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), did not take part in the country's first polls in two decades because of unjust electoral laws. The laws announced by the junta required the NLD to expel many of its leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, because she had a "criminal" record, according to the military rulers.

  Critics say both the election laws and the constitution were designed to ensure that the military retains a firm power in Burma.

  BURMA'S 2010 ELECTION FARCE:
-Constitution: 25% of the seats in parliament are reserved for the military, and the votes of more than 75% of its members are required for any constitutional change.
-Election law: Monks and those with "criminal" convictions, including political activism, could not take part.
-Election commission: Handpicked by Burma's military government.

  The 2010 election laws were later changed, and the National League for Democracy (NLD) participated in elections held in April 2012 for 45 seats vacant in parliament.

  In October 2011 the government indicated it will eventually free over 6,000 prisoners. No official numbers of political prisoners have been available, but they were estimated to be around 1,000 in 2011. Among those freed were former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, and Ko Ko Gyi and Mo Ko Naing, student leaders during the 1988 democratic protests which brought Ms Suu Kyi to the political stage.

  Additionally, in January 2012, the government signed a ceasefire with the Karen National Union (KNU), -which has fought for greater autonomy for more than 60 years.

  Credit must be given to Myanmar President Thein Sein, a former general elected in March, 2011. His new government has instituted democratic reforms, although it remains to see whether the reforms are sincere, or merely cosmetic to appease critics over human rights and ease economic sanctions.

  The NLD won 43 of the 44 seats it competed for in the partial elections of April 2012, including the 4 contested for the Lower House in Nay Pyi Taw, the remote capital city recently built by the military. In the elections there were more than 150 candidates representing 17 political parties.

  While control of the 664-member parliament will not change, the overwhelming NLD performance gives the party and Suu Kyi a renewed democratic authority to initiate a power transfer from the official party.

  According to the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi won with 85% of the vote in her Kawhmu circuit: she received 55,902 votes compared to 9,172 for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidate; a third candidate received 397 votes. "What is important is not how many seats we have won, although of course we are extremely gratified that we have won so many, but the fact that the people are so enthusiastic about participating in the democratic process," Suu Kyi said.

Information on the 2012 election
Wikipedia, the 2012 Burmese election
List of Members of Parliament elected in April 2012 (local file)

  In September 2012 President Thein Sein said he would accept Aung San Suu Kyi as president if the people elect her in 2015, adding that the armed forces would continue to play a central role in Burmese politics. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19772834

  In March 9, 2013, Aung San Suu Kyi was re-elected top leader of her party, the National League for Democracy. With a real chance of the party taking office in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi has called for younger members to be allowed to "strengthen the party". http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21732075

FURTHER ANALYSIS

  Burma's neighbours criticize the ruling military, but also follow a policy of not intervening in their internal affairs. Chinese tolerance of the Burmese military regime is seen as the main limitation for international sanctions.

  The U.S. has taken a "principled" stand toward Burma on human rights and democracy. But because it does not have any serious strategic or economic interests to be gained from Burma, U.S. strident calls for reforms and release of Aung San Suu Kyi have had little credibility, -and more so considering Washington's poor record with international issues of human rights and democratization.

  In 12 October 2007, the UN Security Council adopted a statement deploring Burma's military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters during previous weeks. The statement came after China lifted its objections. It represented the first time the Security Council took a formal action over Burma.

  Suu Kyi vows to continue the fight for freedom until it is won. "We will continue with our efforts to bring democracy to Burma under all circumstances. Don't forget that in South Africa the ANC was declared an illegal organization for decades." As to the dangers ahead, she says: "[the military rulers] have been threatening to annihilate us for years. This is nothing new... We will go on. We believe in hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW

  Locals call the country 'Myanmar' in their language since independence, even though early British called it 'Burma'. In 1989 SLORC changed the country's name officially to 'Myanmar' to synchronize it with the local language.
----------------
  In Burma, the first part of some names may have the meaning of Mr. or Ms.: U for older men, Ko for younger men, and Daw for older women. Hence, Mr. Lun Gywe is addressed as U Lun Gywe.

SOME INTERESTING LINKS
with information from inside Burma

Amnesty International ;
Human Rights Watch ;
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/world/myanmar.htm ;
Online Burma/Myanmar Library (excellent documentation);
excellent directory about Burma/Myanmar current issues ;
United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Myanmar (2004) ;
    (the above link is a local copy from http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/GA2004-res(en).pdf)
video of Suu Kyi in 2000 about Ten Years After The Elections [youtube - 8 minutes] ;
video of Suu Kyi about non-violence [youtube - 2m:15s] ;
US Campaign for Burma Short biography, links for photos, speeches, books (via amazon), and support for Suu Kyi and democracy in Burma ;
summarized news from recent years ;
Myanmar's top enemies of democracy (Burma's hardline generals, BBC) ;
The European Union's relations with Burma/Myanmar .


Memorandum on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
.
Official version, from the Embassy of Myanmar in USA.   An essay in cynicism?


from http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-bio.html
Aung San Suu Kyi - Biography

1942: September. Marriage of Aung San, commander of the Burma Independence Army, and Ma Khin Kyi, senior nurse of Rangoon General Hospital.
1945: June 19. Aung San Suu Kyi born in Rangoon.
1947: July 19. General Aung San assassinated. Suu Kyi is two years old.
1960: Daw Khin Kyi appointed Burma's ambassador to India; Suu Kyi accompanies her mother.
1964-67: Oxford University, B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics (elected Honorary Fellow, 1990). Suu Kyi meets future husband Michael Aris, student of Tibetan civilization.
1969-71: Suu Kyi goes to New York for graduate study; joins U.N.
1972: Marries Michael Aris.
1973: First son Alexander born.
1977: Second son Kim born.
1984-5: Publishes "Aung San". For juvenile readers publishes "Let's Visit Burma" and books on Nepal and Bhutan. Appointed Visiting Scholar in Kyoto University.
1987: Fellowship at Indian Institute in Simla. Suu Kyi enrolls at London School of Oriental and African Studies to work on advanced degree.
1988: March 31. Mother suffers severe stroke. Suu Kyi takes plane next day to Rangoon to help care for Daw Khin Kyi. Stays in family home on University Avenue next to Inya Lake in Rangoon. Mother dies in December at age of 76.
July 23. Resignation of General Ne Win, since 1962 military dictator of Burma.
August 8. Mass uprising throughout country. Violent suppression by military kills thousands.
August 15. Suu Kyi, in first political action, sends open letter to government, asking for formation of independent consultative committee to prepare multi-party elections.
August 26. In first public speech, she addresses several hundred thousand people outside Shwedagon Pagoda, calling for democratic government.
September 24. National League for Democracy (NLD) formed, with Suu Kyi general-secretary and a policy of non-violence and civil disobedience.
October-December. Defying ban, Suu Kyi tours throughout Burma addressing large audiences.
1989: February 17. Suu Kyi prohibited standing for election.
April 5. Incident in Irawaddy Delta when Suu Kyi courageously walks toward soldiers with rifles aiming at her.
July 20. Suu Kyi placed under house arrest, without charge or trial.
1990: May 27. Despite detention of Suu Kyi, NLD wins election with 82% of parliamentary seats. SLORC refuses to allow installation of elected parliament.
1991: Nobel Committee announces Suu Kyi as winner of Peace Prize.
1995: July 10. SLORC releases Suu Kyi from house arrest after six years of detention. In the first months after detention was ended, she was able to speak to large gatherings of supporters outside her home, but this was stopped by SLORC.
1999: Michael Aris dies of prostate cancer in London. Burmese authorities prohibited him to visit Suu Kyi one last time; he had not seen her since 1995. The government always urged her to join her family abroad, but she would not be allowed to return.


FAIR USE NOTICE

  This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance the understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, social justice and other issues, and hopefully to help find solutions for those problems. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law [see also]. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

  This site is entirely noncommercial. The material on this site is distributed without fee or payment of any kind to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. A click on a hyperlink is a request for information.

geogury [A.T] yahoo D0T com
For a working address, substitute [A.T] for the usual symbol and D0T for .


This page web address is:
http://gury.orgfree.com/suukyi1.htm