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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid