Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:06 AM

Aung San Suu Kyi Becoming Democratic Mascot of Burma’s Military Dictatorship

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The only meaningful step President Thein Sein has taken towards democracy was to release Suu Kyi in 2010 from nearly 15 years of house arrest.

But he has since co-opted this former ‘democracy icon’ into his political establishment – as leader of the loyal (i.e., powerless) opposition in parliament. And nothing demonstrates the extent to which she has been co-opted quite like Suu Kyi’s deafening silence about the ongoing ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Buddhists. Especially given that the UN has called Myanmar’s Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’

Yet, when challenged to explain her silence, the Buddhist Suu Kyi demurred, saying self-righteously that she was not taking sides to preserve her impartiality to help them reconcile. But just imagine how much worse the ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Hindus in India would have been if the Hindu Gandhi had not been so vocal in condemning it…?

(“Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” The iPINIONS Journal, November 12, 2012)

After I published this take on Nobel Peace Prize-winning Aung San Suu Kyi’s foray into politics in Myanmar (aka Burma), a number of purported Asia experts accused me of being cynical and uninformed.

MYANMAR-MILITARY-ARMED FORCES DAYWell, I wonder what my critics have to say about the images of Suu Kyi that went viral yesterday. For they show her sitting quite comfortably, as a token female fixture, among hundreds of military men as they presided over the hallmark of all dictatorships, the annual military parade. There can be no denying that these images provide clear vindication of my informed cynicism.

Incidentally, she struck a solitary figure because she wasn’t just the only woman but the only person sitting there who ever harbored any aspirations of turning Burma into a bona fide democracy.

Perhaps my critics needed to see these pictures to be convinced that my cynicism was wholly warranted.  But I knew Suu Kyi was hopelessly compromised when she failed to condemn the violence cited above. The sectarian violence is undemocratic enough; but her silence provides tacit approval of it, and of the military’s reliance on it to justify its dictatorship.

International human rights groups have documented abuses by the Burmese military in its campaigns against ethnic militias, including the use of child soldiers and civilians as human minesweepers.

(New York Times, March 27, 2013)

Aung San Suu Kyi walks to her oath at the lower house of parliament BurmaEven worse though is the way military propaganda now flows from Suu Kyi’s lips the way democratic principles once did. For example, I doubt anyone who agitated for her freedom could ever have imagined her referring to a strong military, not a free citizenry, as the key ingredient in developing democracy in her country. Talk about Orwellian doublespeak! Or perhaps she’s just suffering a profound case of Stockholm Syndrome…?

But again, just imagine how oxymoronic (i.e., utterly unthinkable) it would have been to have just cause to associate Gandhi with a military dictatorship in any fashion….

Burma’s top military commander, General Min Aung Hlaing, told the gathering the army will continue to play a central political role in order to move the country toward what he called a ‘modern democracy.’

(Voice of America, March 27, 2013)

All that is left now is for Suu Kyi to accept an appointment as the military junta’s minister of democratic freedoms….

Related commentaries:
Obama historic trip

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

My Books

VFC Painting


Subscribe via Email

Powered by FeedBlitz