Fresh from her release from house arrest, Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a dialogue with the military junta, emphasizing that her top priority was to bring democracy to the reclusive country.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Free Asia's Burmese service on Nov. 14, the 65-year-old democracy icon said she wanted to build a network using "modern communication" among people within and outside her country in the push for democracy via "people power."
She also said the generals did not impose any conditions when releasing her from house arrest on Nov. 13. She had been locked up for 15 of the past 21 years.
"For me, it's better to have a dialogue," Suu Kyi said when asked whether there was anything she would like to convey to the the military government.
"I don't want to be having a one-sided conversation. There's only one thing I want to say. I've said this from the beginning. I've said this before. 'Let's have a dialogue.' That's it.
"Only when we talk, only when we have two sides talking, will it be effective. It's not going to be effective if I just say, 'I want to say this. I want to say this,' just by myself."
Suu Kyi last met the junta leader, General Than Shwe, in secret talks in 2002 at the encouragement of the United Nations.
"Voice of the people"
The Nobel Peace Prize winner earlier spoke to a cheering crowd of several thousands who jammed the street in front of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters, causing heavy traffic congestion.
She said she wanted to "hear the voice of the people" before charting her next course of action, following controversial elections a week ago in which the junta's proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) scored massive gains.
The elections have been widely criticized as a sham by Western powers and human rights groups, and opposition parties which contested the elections have complained of cheating and voter intimidation.
Suu Kyi did not directly comment on the elections in the interview but stressed the need for inclusiveness in any democratic process, saying she was impressed by the large youth turnout during her speeches and by their increasing involvement in Burmese politics.
"The best way is one where the entire people can participate as far as possible. One thing I noticed is that among those who came over, there were many young people. That is a very good sign.
"I saw our new blood, our new generation, participating in the political process actively," said the daughter of the nation's assassinated independence hero, General Aung San.Unconditional release
Asked about her immediate plans, Suu Kyi, who also held talks with foreign diplomats and a press conference on her first full day of freedom, said, "The main thing I have in mind is for us to achieve democracy."
She also said that she was given an unconditional release from house arrest.
Asked whether the government had imposed any "limitations" on her, she said, "No, there aren't any."
Suu Kyi, known as just the "lady" among Burmese, called for increasing participation from people within and outside her country in bringing about democracy.
"By people, I am not referring only to people in our country, but also people of the world," she said.
"For us to achieve democracy, we will have to establish a network of people—a network of Burmese people, a network of people of the world. Everyone must be involved (in the process through) communication means appropriate to modern era and work for democracy.That's what I believe."
Before her release, her lawyer Nyan Win said that Suu Kyi wanted to get a Twitter account so that she can get in touch with the younger generation after years of isolation.
Suu Kyi said she had been listening to broadcasts by Radio Free Asia (RFA) in efforts to keep in touch with developments during her years of house arrest.
"For RFA, as well as other news agencies, I listen to political news as a duty. But I listen to programs on literature, poetry, and arts because I'm interested in them."
Suu Kyi also thanked world leaders for supporting her democratic struggle, when asked to comment on the deluge of messages from a wide variety of government leaders on her release from house arrest. "People's Power"
On what she would like to particularly convey to the Burmese people, she said, "I would like to thank them first. Also, [I would like to say that] we will be able to succeed only with people's power, with people's support, with people's trust.
"I cannot do this on my own. The NLD cannot do this on its own. All of the political parties cannot do this on their own. Without people's participation, nothing can be done effectively for our country. I would like the people to participate."
Suu Kyi said that she was touched by the people's support.
"In some of the small wards I passed by, people looked very poor. But when they came out and welcomed me and waved their hands, they were all smiles.
"I thought to myself, 'Oh, our people are very warm—and very magnanimous.
"Even though they are very poor and tired, they are able to great me warmly, happily, and cheerfully. They have these powers. They are giving me strength.
"If people continue to give us such strength, we in turn will strengthen the people. If we join hands and help each other, I believe we will be successful."Interview with Aung San Suu Kyi was conducted by Kyaw Kyaw Aung of Radio Free Asia's Burmese Service. Translation by Than Than Win, Kyaw Min Htun, and Khin Maung Soe. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.