Overcoming Fear

In a March 25 broadcast, Aung San Suu Kyi promotes the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, questions the proceedings of Burma's new parliament, and discusses Burma's trade and treaty commitments.


Q:  I do not agree with what some people say-that the minds of the Burmese people are enveloped in fear. Are the people really afraid? Or is it that we, the opposition, have been weak in helping the people to have more confidence in themselves?

A:  It cannot be doubted that a sense of fear has spread among the Burmese people. Could one say that this is because fear has been systematically instilled in the minds of the people for so many years? I think that everyone who values innate human dignity should work toward erasing those fears. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone should be free from fear for their security in their daily lives. That is why our National League for Democracy (NLD) has been working to help people overcome their fear. It would be very good if everyone worked together in this.

Q:  I have been unable to answer articulately a question that my friends and close associates ask me when we discuss democracy and human rights. Their question is this: What would they gain, and what kind of changes and progress would there be, even if democracy and human rights are achieved in Burma?

A:  I will answer this question in two parts. First, please read the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights to find out what benefits will be gained when human rights are achieved. This document lists the 30 rights that human beings must have in order to live in accordance with the innate human dignity that they possess. With regard to the benefits of achieving democracy, I will say that this will give one the right to work for the progress and development of one's environment and country under a system that recognizes the value of every individual.

Second, I think that it will be difficult for one to understand the meaning of democracy and human rights if one thinks only about what one can get, and does not think at all about what one can do for others.

Q:  I am a Palaung ethnic national who lives in Japan. I have heard that some of the MPs attending the parliamentary proceedings in Naypyidaw are saying that discussions in the parliament are being carried out in a democratic manner. Do you think that this parliament will be able to bring about a democratic system for the people? Some parliamentarians
also think that the next elections at the end of this term will establish a democracy. Will the aspirations of the people be realized after the next five years?

A:  We cannot say whether the parliamentary proceedings are being conducted in a democratic manner, because the press is not allowed to report on the meetings. I understand that bills that are proposed have been passed without dissent. The NLD did not participate in the elections because we did not believe that 2008 Constitution or the 2010 concerning the registration of political parties would result in a parliament that would establish democracy. I think that whether or not
democratic elections will emerge in the next five years will depend only on the efforts of those people who truly want democracy.

Q:  I am from the Karen State. I recently went to the Rangoon General Hospital for a woman's problem and found that women patients face a lot of trouble there. The doctors and nurses do not treat us well. They do not even speak to us properly. When we are treated this way, we would like to go somewhere else for treatment, but we cannot afford it. Do you have any plans to provide knowledge and education for women?

A:  The NLD began a program in 1998 to provide vitamins and nutritional supplements to children. At the same time, we began occasionally to provide maternity education to mothers. Then, starting in 2008, we have been sending NLD youth-both men and women-to attend HIV education programs organized by the United Nations so that these young people can pass on this information to the general public. The NLD has also organized health education seminars. We will continue to do this in the future, as well.

As for the whole country, with less than one percent of the total government expenditure allotted for health costs, the country will not have the ability, not only to spread health education and improve the quality of health workers, but to train them to provide more care and be considerate to their patients.

Q:  I live in Florida in the United States. From 1988 until 2010, Burma had no parliament, so the [military-led] SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) and SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) borrowed money from the international community. They also signed trading contracts with economic enterprises both inside Burma and abroad. I believe that when a democratic government comes into power someday in Burma, the people of the country should not be responsible to pay those debts. I would like to know your opinion on this matter.

A: With regard to treaties and agreements that have been made with other countries, these must be dealt with by taking into consideration our friendly relations with those countries and the normal practice of the international community. If the matter involves something that will have a major adverse impact on our country, friendly countries will understand this and try to resolve the issue amicably. But we will also need to show from our side that we can be good friends with them.


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