Tuesday, June 2, 2009

‘We Won’t Have another Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’

The Irrawaddy News

Khin Ohmar is a secretary of Forum for Democracy in Burma and a spokesperson for a campaign calling for the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. The campaign started on March 13, Burma’s Human Rights Day. On May 26, the campaign announced that it collected more than 650,000 signatures from more than 150 countries around the world. Ohmar spoke to The Irrawaddy regarding the trial of Suu Kyi.

Khin Ohmar

Question: What is your opinion of the current international pressure on the junta?

Answer: In this situation, the obvious factor is that international response is very important at this moment. The junta didn’t perhaps expect this much pressure. It has been so obvious to see how much the international community admires and respects Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They were seen to try to take actions rather than issuing statements as they did before. For example, there was huge support from the United Kingdom, as a government, which created a Web site with the intention of describing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. At least, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement. China and Russia will neither think of discussing it [the matter of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi], nor easily accept it. But due to the immediate response of the UK, US and France, a statement came out. Also, Asean and Thailand issued strong statements [on the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi].

Anyway, it is clear that most of the governments have plans to continue follow-up actions, not just issue their statements. It is different from what we saw before.

Q: What will the international community do if the junta puts Aung San Suu Kyi in prison?

A: At this time, the junta has to either release her or put her under house arrest, which is also unrealistic. So, I think the junta must give her a prison sentence. The international community is also aware of what the junta is going to do, and it won’t stop putting pressure on the junta.

The junta has been using ways to demean Suu Kyi. We have to see how much the international community and individual governments can cooperate with each other to seek a practical solution which is beneficial to our country.

It is not easy. That’s why [our struggle] has lasted such a long time, because China and Russia have blocked [the UNSC] from doing anything on Burma.
But I don’t see the international pressure decreasing. It will even increase, but what is needed from them are practical actions.

Q: What do you think about the role of exiled Burmese opposition groups?

A: We demanded Asean to send a special delegation team to meet with the Burmese junta and ask for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Another is for the US, EU and Asean to impose economic sanctions targeted individually on the junta. Currently, the international community is putting immediate diplomatic pressure on the junta. The UNSC should call an emergency meeting and pass a resolution on the Burma issue. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should actively show his personal involvement to draw up a plan in which all key countries are able to become involved and all parties can agree. When Mr. Ban Ki-moon goes to Burma to meet the junta, he shouldn’t accept anything without the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

Another issue is that the US appointed a special envoy to Burma former but the incumbent President Obama hasn’t finalized it yet. Asean hasn’t so far had a special envoy as well. Therefore, we demanded the US and Asean appoint special envoys and send them to Burma for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We already told the EU special envoy to go to Burma. All of these are diplomatic means. If all these efforts fail to persuade the junta to stop the trial and release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, another step is for the UNSC to impose an arm embargo on Burma and to form a commission to inquiry into the crimes committed by the junta.

We are preparing to send these demands to the office of the UN secretary-general.

They reflect the concerted efforts of all leading exiled political organizations, women and youth groups.

Q: As a woman, how do you view the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi?

A: This event can be viewed through the gender issue because Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the junta’s No 1 leader, is a masculine general while Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a feminine democratic leader, is seen as his rival, and to say the truth, a woman who will bring his power to an end. A thin lady who is younger than Than Shwe has won not only the heart of the Burmese people but also that of the people of the world.

To be sure, Than Shwe receives the love of his family and grandchildren, but not the loving-kindness of the people. To view the situation from Than Shwe’s perspective, he will surely want the love of the people, but know that he can’t win it. In this sense, he must have personal hatred, anger and jealousy towards her. What is more troubling is that the woman who is younger than him has a better capacity than he has even though he, as a general, has the power to rule the whole country. Therefore, hatred and jealousy of Than Shwe drove him to take revenge on her.

The junta knows well that wherever Suu Kyi goes, the people follow her from dawn to night. She doesn’t need a single weapon to organize the people. On the contrary, the junta doesn’t dare to step into the crowd of the people even though they possess huge armed forces. This is the biggest threat to them.

The only weapon that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has is the people behind her. She is never reluctant to face anything for the truth. She is a woman as well as a mother of two sons and grandchildren. She could have had a peaceful life together with her family. She has all the basic needs of a human being. Even though she could have lived such a life, she has been sacrificing all of her self-interest and family life. For truth and democracy, she tolerates the current situation and doesn’t even hate the generals, who can never compete with her nobility.

History will tell the truth if they continue to do their misdeeds with hatred while Daw Aung San Suu Kyi firmly stands up for [democracy] courage and honesty. The generals know she can not compete with their might, but her popularity is greater than theirs

As a woman, I have concerns about her. She is going to be 64 and will be living under poor conditions, either in prison or under house arrest. And then, I can imagine the extent to which she can receive healthcare when she has the health problems that a woman usually has. I can imagine the hatred she receives under the junta’s atrocious behaviour. I’m really worried about her security.

I was astonished when I saw her face on the TV. Whenever I feel depressed, I try to see her face in my mind and ask myself how she can stand up for all of us. When I recently saw her during her meeting with three diplomats and her entry into the court, her face was clear, peaceful and clam. As usual, she has neither worry nor fear.

Such a mindset doesn’t fear even an army of a million soldiers. She is really an incredible person. Her firm stand [on democracy], and her strong mental as well as physical health proves she herself is free from fear.

Q: What is your view on the feelings and mood of the Burmese people?

A: I would like to say that I am worried about the people not only for the time being, but also for the future. The people have been living under extreme fear. I am worried that they have lost their motivation, leading them to become inactive. I am not blaming them, and we can’t blame them under this extreme repression.

Back to the 1990 movement, if something happened to a student, other students followed; so did their parents at the same time. But now when the Buddhist monks are beaten and put into prisons, the extreme level of fear among the people makes them unable to come out onto the streets.

We won’t have another Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the future. It is very important that we must rebuild our country together with the leadership of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

But the people fine it difficult to see the importance of this, because it is more for them to have two good meals a day. Another factor in fear is they don’t want to be arrested and put into prison. They fear these matters more than 24 hours of a day. As a result, the people see only a short distance ahead in their lives. I am worried about that.

While I live in exile, I don’t think it is fair for me to tell people what they should do. But I have the desire to make them active. All the people both inside and outside the country must cooperate and work together for change in our country.

I want to say to all people: Please don’t sit and accept the injustice done to our leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who faces an unfair trial. While living outside the country, I have been doing my best [to change Burma]. At the same time, I want to say to people inside the country, join together hand-in-hand to stand up for our struggle against injustice.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too