'Look At Our Own Weakness'

In a Dec. 24 broadcast, Aung San Suu Kyi answers questions about the political role of Burmese women, China’s relations with Burma, and her talks with U.N. envoys and junta officials.


Q: I am a member of the organization called the Women’s Rights and Women Affairs of Burma (WRWAB) as well as the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC). There is very little consideration for the role of women in Burmese politics, though they represent more than half the population. What can be done so that women’s affairs are taken into consideration the way we do for the ethnic groups in our country’s politics? I would also like to know what can be done to make people think more about the role of women in rebuilding our country.

A: It is true that there is not enough focus on the role of women in Burmese politics. I think that because there is such a lack of basic human rights in our country, and because people are more involved in getting those rights, they have not given enough attention to women’s rights. But women have become more involved in the political process of our country with each day. In our prisons there are over 400 women who are serving time for political offenses. This shows how active our women are in Burmese politics. The people will not be able to ignore the role of women because of this activism. I think that if you work actively as best you can for democracy and human rights, the role of women will be highlighted more in Burmese society.

Q: Thank you for taking special interest in the questions of those of us who are immigrant workers and students in Thailand. The young people here would like to return to Burma and work there some day. How can we young people prepare ourselves to return to Burma?

A: You should always make an effort to improve your abilities wherever you are and in whatever situation you are in. I absolutely believe that one day you will be able to return and work in the interest of your country with the abilities you have acquired. Therefore, please do not be discouraged. Please work hard. I would like to urge you to continue working steadfastly with the motivation to return to our country one day and improve the quality of life there.

Q: The generation born after 1985 lacks education, and life has not been easy for us. More people are struggling to make their daily lives better, and fewer are involved in politics. Therefore, I would like to ask what you would like those of us who are living abroad to do to help improve the education of this new generation in Burma. Also, some of the ethnic people are saying that they do not want to return to Burma even after democracy is established there. What would you say to those people who do not want to return to the country of their birth, and instead settle down in a foreign land?  [The caller, a young man, addresses Aung San Suu Kyi by the honorific “mother.”]

A: I have a lot of respect for you, son, for being concerned about and wanting to help with the education of the young people inside the country because you yourself had to face difficulties in acquiring your own education. I am also very happy that you have such spirit, as well. We will get in touch with you and let you know how we would like you to help us.

At the same time, with regard to those young people who do not want to return to Burma, it is not wrong for them to be loyal and feel grateful to the country that has given them security. But I think that they should not forget the country of their birth. If they could be loyal to their country of birth just as they are loyal to the country in which they live now, this would be such a good attitude. I would say that this would show such a profound sense of spirit.

Q: I am studying politics and social affairs at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While studying Burma, I learned that China’s influence seems to have grown within the region. It seems that China’s growing influence in its relations with the Burmese military government could lead to making Burma a second Tibet. What should we, the young people of Burma, do to prevent this from happening?

A: Burma and China have been good neighbors since we gained independence, and we have maintained friendly relations. At present, China’s power and influence have greatly increased, while our country has very little power because its economy has not developed. Therefore, there are concerns about what will happen with regard to the relations of our two countries.

In reality, good friends should base their relationships on equality, but for us to establish such a situation we need to make our country more developed. That would be the best way. We should not find fault in other countries or point our fingers at other countries. Instead, I think that we must look at our own weaknesses and work toward eliminating those weaknesses so that we can become good neighbors on equal terms.

Q: I am asking this question from Sweden. You have had several meetings and discussions with the U.N. envoys Mr. Razali and Mr. Gambari and with the military government representative Gen. Kyi Aung. What was discussed during those meetings, and why were the several meetings you had with Gen. Aung Kyi not successful?

A: The matters that I discussed with the U.N. envoys mainly involved finding ways to improve human rights and democratic rights in Burma. As to my discussions with U Aung Kyi, to tell you the truth, nothing special or important was discussed. I would not have discussed matters that the Burmese people needed to know about or made any decisions regarding them on my own. I would have let the people know.

I think that the reason these talks with U Aung Kyi did not proceed any further is that the matters we discussed had no depth or substance. But just because these discussions were not successful, this does not mean that this will be the case in the future. We look forward to success in future talks. I would also like to let you know that if we ever discuss matters that are important to the people of Burma, I will never make decisions on my own.


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