Release of Aung San Suu Kyi – release of conscience from prison

Rubayat Ahsan

Rubayat Ahsan

Suu Kyi’s release on 13th November has relieved citizens across the world who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of thoughts and democracy. She is the most admired and compassionate leader in the contemporary world who has sacrificed personal comfort for a mission to free Burma. Nelson Mandela had set an example in terms of struggle against injustice and the other example had been made by Suu Kyi to fight for freedom as well as democracy. And both have been recognized, loved, greeted and cheered by the international communities for their determined stand for the suppressed and consistent work against the oppressors.

Her generosity is noteworthy towards government that treated her brutally and locked her 15 of past 21 years. They have treated her well during these years of detention but she has concerns for her followers (‘prisoner of conscience’) who have been in much worse situation. Most of them are kept in prisons far away in the country side. It is strategy of the government to keep them away from relatives who could take care with foods and medical help. She says that neither she is free not all there in Burma are free, “some people are not free, how can you say that I am free. Either we are all free together or we are all not free together.” And the same is echoed by Sean Turnell, “She joins 55 million of her fellow citizens in the far larger prison that is Burma today.”

As Suu Kyi notes, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts…”. Generals in Burma are, in fact, very rich out of natural gas and off shore accounts like generals in Kongo who exploit gold mines and fill up golds into their pocket. On the contrary, Suu Kyi accepts very modest life style. Cyclone Nargis damaged roof of her residence in 2008. There was power failure and the authority did not support with generators. Like a true peace activist she lit her house with candles during that months after cyclone. Her inclination towards nonviolent peace process is influenced by philosophies of Gandhi besides Buddhism.

She had made a choice to be separated from her family to serve the people of Burma. She had been separated from her children for long and her husband had been denied visa by Burmese government while he was at the later stage of cancer. Though the story of her life clearly presents evidences of ‘sacrifice’, she does not like the word ‘sacrifice’ as she says, “I don’t see this as a sacrifice. It’s embarrassing when people say that. I chose this path and I took it. To say that it is a sacrifice is like asking to be indebted. I chose this path and I will face the consequences and I do not expect anyone to be in my debt.”

She is not angry with some of her break away party followers who have participated in the recent election; which is not widely appreciated by the election observers and human rights monitors. A question repeatedly haunts her by media whats next from now onwards, she will calmly follow the path of dialogues and reconciliation. This time she will listen to her people on what they want, dream and aspire. She will listen them first and then she will set up goals and strategies. ‘Force of power’ should not be the way forward to resolve conflict though it is in practice these days in Burma.

Probable disband of NLD does not tremble this iron woman. She redefines the movement not just from conventional party politics in democracy but from deeper level of ‘morale’ boost up in qualitative perspective as she notes, “…we would like to have a democracy network throughout the country, throughout the world, by the people – for the people. From the beginning, we have not worked for the perpetuation of this party alone. But to attain democracy and to uplift the morale and qualities of the people.”

She is an exceptional leader standing out of crowd shining in brilliance in the global stage of politicians and her insights into democracy supersedes the old-fashioned model. She earned a Ph.D. from SOAS in 1985 through rigorous academic work, which is not just ‘honorary stuff’. Her intellectual ability, activism, philosophy and people’s leadership made her extremely popular around the world. She deserves more than what she is today. Once richest Burma is a poor nation in SouthEast Asia today but the nation should feel rich having such a leader like Suu Kyi. She exists from and within the strength of people as she said, “The people are my strength – so they must remain strong. I can’t go it alone….If the people want democracy and want Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to attain it for them, they are not going to attain it. There will only be Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the dictator. Everyone has to have a hand in it.” This is her message of the moment to her people.


TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS BRIEFING: Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD HQ Rangoon Nov 14, 2010 by UNDP Rangoon

release of conscience