News / Asia

Aung San Suu Kyi Says Burma Reforms Not Yet Irreversible

The pace of political change in Burma over the past two years is startling: from the end of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, to her election to parliament, to the lifting of most sanctions, to this week's release of political prisoners.

But the pro-democracy leader says Burma's transformation is not irreversible until the army commits itself totally to change.

“Under the present constitution, the army can always take over all parts of government if they think this is necessary. So until the army comes out clearly and consistently in support of the democratic process, we cannot say that it's irreversible. But I don't think we need fear a reversal too much either,” she said.

The military ruled Burma for decades, and worked to suppress all opposition. Because of that, the United States and many other countries imposed economic sanctions on the government.

Elections in 2010 brought in new political leaders, who, although they are civilians, have close ties to the army. Still, the new government has gradually made political and economic reforms, prompting Washington to ease the sanctions.

In an interview at VOA's Washington headquarters Tuesday, Aung San Suu Kyi said she supports the lifting of U.S. trade sanctions on Burma because it is time, she said, for the Burmese people to stand on their own.

"There have been many claims that sanctions have hurt Burma economically, but I did not agree with that point of view. If you look at reports by the IMF [International Monetary Fund], for example, they make quite clear that the economic impact on Burma has not been that great. But I think the political impact has been very great, and that has helped us in our struggle for democracy," she said.

Related report from Carolyn Presutti:


As leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly two decades in detention. During those years, she said, she believed she was on the path she chose and was perfectly prepared to keep to that path.

Preview: Aung San Suu Kyi's U.S. Tour

  • Meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Meets with NY, Ind., Calif. Burmese community
  • Accepts Congressional Gold Medal
  • Accepts Asia Society Global Vision Award
  • Addresses National Endowment for Democracy
  • Accepts Atlantic Council's Global Citizen Award
And what would she say to people in other countries under similar situations who look to her for inspiration?

"First of all, I would say don't give up hope. At the same time I would say there is no hope without endeavor. You've got to work. You've got to make an effort. It is not enough to sit and hope. You have to work in order to realize your hopes," she said.

On her first visit to the United States in more than 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi is to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. She was the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  • Burmese citizens residing in South Korea greet Aung San Suu Kyi upon her arrival at a hotel in central Seoul, January 28, 2013.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves to the media as he embraces Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after they spoke to the media at her residence in Rangoon, November 19, 2012.
  • Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, waters a sapling after planting it in Govindapuram village, north of Bangalore, India, November 17, 2012.
  • Burmese opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi pays floral tribute on the birth anniversary of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, at his memorial in New Delhi, India, November 14, 2012.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 19, 2012.
  • Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi holds her Congressional Gold Medal after it was presented to her by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (2nd L), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 19, 2012.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the State Department, Washington, September 18, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, center, arrives for the Peace Nobel Prize lecture at the city hall in Oslo, June 16, 2012 to thank the Nobel committee for the prize she won in 1991.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses about 4,000 people gathered outside her house in Rangoon, Burma, June 1, 1996.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is surrounded by security guards and newsmen as she walks out of her lakeside house in Rangoon, Burma, Juy 14, 1995.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses crowd of supporters in Rangoon, Burma, July 7, 1989.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses crowd of supporters in Rangoon, Burma, July 7, 1989.
  • Swiss Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, left Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, center, and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Bern, Switzerland, June 14, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi during an election campaign rally in Thongwa village some 50 kms from Rangoon, Burma, February 26, 2012
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is presented with flowers by cheering Karen refugees at Mae La refugee camp in Tha Song Yang district, Tak province, northern Thailand, June 2, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, center, and elected lawmakers of her National League for Democracy party take an oath during a regular session of the Lower House at parliament in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 2, 2012.
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron and Aung San Suu Kyi share a light moment during their meeting in the compound of her lakeside home, April 13, 2012, Rangoon, Burma.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party, April 2, 2012, Rangoon, Burma.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to journalists during the press conference in her residence in Rangoon, Burma, March 30, 2012.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, right, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton react after speaking to the press at Suu Kyi's residence in Rangoon, Burma, December 2, 2011.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi and her youngest son Kim Aris pay respect to her father, the late Geneneral Aung San, at the Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon, Burma, July 12, 2011.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zhao from: Ithaca, NY, USA
September 18, 2012 9:50 PM
She is the most graceful and shrewd woman I've ever seen in this world.
Good luck Aung San Suu Kyi!
In Response

by: Voice of Islam
September 19, 2012 9:57 AM
I thought she is good moral about humanity until she commented against Rohingya ethnic group in Burma. Noble peace prize should be taken out from her. She does not deserve that prize. Shame on you. I even hate to pronounce your name anymore. Shame Shame Shame...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs