'Generals Reneged on 2004 Deal'

The Burmese democracy icon says a reconciliation plan fell apart after the junta refused to release her.

Share on WhatsApp
Share on WhatsApp
Aung San Suu Kyi (R) makes offerings to a monk in Rangoon, April 10, 2011.

Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi revealed Friday that the military junta seven years ago failed to honor a national reconciliation deal struck with her.

The military generals forged the deal after a pro-government mob attacked Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) motorcade in Depayin in upper Burma in May 2003, killing scores of her supporters.

The junta and NLD leaders had several secret discussions and, according to Aung San Suu Kyi, the generals agreed in 2004 to launch an enquiry into the bloody raid, pay compensation to those killed or maimed and release all those held, including her.

Following the attack, Aung San Suu Kyi was incarcerated at the notorious Insein Prison outside the then-capital, Rangoon, before being placed under house arrest until her release only in November last year.

"Agreements we had during our discussion with the authorities after the Depayin attack are; one, to launch an enquiry; two, to pay compensation for those killed or maimed; three, to work together in order to prevent similar incidents in future; and four, to release all those arrested related with the Depayin attack," she said in a weekly question-answer program with RFA.

"On our side, the NLD had agreed to send selected representatives to attend the National Convention. But after both sides had agreed on all these factors, [the junta] said just a few days before the National Convention that they won't release me anymore, and from that point on all agreements and discussions were ruined," she said.

Fight against dictatorship

Aung San Suu Kyi spent more than 15 years in some form of detention between 1989 and 2010 because of her fight against military dictatorship in Burma.

The military junta was officially disbanded in March 2011 after power was handed over to a so-called civilian government, the latest phase in the country's transition to democracy that has been widely criticised as a sham.

The junta proceeded with the national convention referred to by Aung San Suu Kyi as part of its "Road map to democracy." It concluded in late 2007 without the participation of the NLD and other key opposition groups and lacked free debate.

Before the Depayin incident, especially in mid-2002 following another release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, hopes were high that progress towards national reconciliation would occur amid secret confidence-building negotiations led by the United Nations.

No justice

Perpetrators of the 2003 mob attack have not been brought to justice by the Burmese authorities so far. Aung San Suu Kyi said she fled the scene of the attack with the help of her driver, Ko Kyaw Soe Lin.

"In short, I escaped only because of the young driver who was tremendously able to drive through the barriers on the road where unidentified people were trying to block it," she said.

Looking forward, Aung San Suu Kyi said she would proceed with national reconciliation efforts even though the government did not respond to her calls for a dialogue.

Listeners during the RFA program had questioned why she was pushing for reconciliation when the government was ignoring her pleas for a meeting.
She asked them to be patient, saying "you must pursue a goal which you believe in."

Reported by RFA's Burmese service. Translation by Khin May Zaw and Khin Maung Soe. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.