News / Asia

Q&A: Freeing Aung San Suu Kyi

A supporter of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi holds her portrait as she talks to journalists,12 Nov. 2010.
A supporter of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi holds her portrait as she talks to journalists,12 Nov. 2010.

Burma and the world are waiting to see if the military government will release pro-democracy icon and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest as reported.

She has been in some form of detention for most of the past 20 years. And on Saturday, her latest term of house arrest is scheduled to expire. Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted last year of violating the terms of an earlier house arrest order when she gave shelter to an American man who swam uninvited to her lakeside Rangoon home.

She was sentenced to three years of hard labor, but Burma's leader, General Than Shwe, commuted the sentence to an additional 18 months of house arrest. VOA Bangkok Correspondent Daniel Schearf has been following the story.

What are the possible scenarios if the government decides to free her from house arrest?

Her lawyer Nyan Win has said that she has made it clear that she wants to investigate some of the claims of voter fraud that the opposition parties have alleged from last Sunday's elections. She clearly is wanting to play a bit of a role in politics, although maybe not directly. Her party, the NLD, has been disbanded as a political party and is therefore not allowed to operate as a political party until it registers with the government. The NLD refused to register earlier this year because of unfair election rules. So it will be interesting to see the government's reaction if she is released and if she does try to get involved in politics or at least bringing attention to these political issues.

Why would the government agree to release her if she is inclined to return to politics?

That's the big question. Do they really plan to release her at all? And if they do release her, how long will it be for and will they allow her to have freedom of movement? Or will they try to limit where she can go? The last time they released her for any extended period of time, she tried to go around the country and motivate her supporters to push for democracy. They were essentially attacked by a group that was supporting the military government and that led to her being put under house arrest for the umpteenth time. So there are concerns about her security and there are concerns about the government motivation behind her release.

You have just returned from a trip to Mae Sot, Thailand, where Burmese refugees have fled recent fighting between the Burmese military and ethnic Karen rebels.  How much popular support is there for Aung San Suu Kyi?

The impression I get from talking to people coming from Burma and from talking to people in the Burmese exile community in Thailand is that Aung San Suu Kyi is still very much respected among the people, and is seen as one of the only hopes for democracy in a country that has been ruled by the military for more than 50 years. So she has their respect, she has their admiration, and it will be interesting to see if the military allows her to go out to talk to people because she can command quite an audience.  She can motivate people to get involved whereas the military does not want to see that happen. What constraints she is put under, the limitations on her movement or ability to hold public gatherings, will indicate what sort of threat the military sees from Aung San Suu Kyi.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs