'We'll Monitor the Situation Closely'

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Kyi comments on military abuses in villages and on how to engage in politics.

2011.08.04

Q:  After the Depayin incident in 2003, the military government took you away to an unknown place and detained you there. We heard that they physically harmed you at that time. We do not know whether this is true or not.

A:  During the Depayin incident, apart from being hit by glass splinters when my car windows were smashed, I was not injured in any other manner. After our car was detained at Ye-U, we were driven the next morning to the Insein prison, which took about 24 hours. After being kept in Insein for three weeks, I was kept at the Ye-Mon military camp for over three months. After I was discharged from the hospital, I was returned to my home and was kept there under house arrest until November last year.

Q:  I am a young man who has been continuously involved in the movement for democracy, human rights, and peace. In our Kyauk Kyi Township, the military has banned the movement of medicines and batteries, forbidden us to spend the night in the paddy fields when working in the fields, and refused permission for villagers to return to their villages after they have been displaced by the army. More than a few people have been killed for not obeying their orders. In addition, whenever the army visits the township, they have to be entertained with food and drink. If it is found that we have been in contact with the Karen National Union, or have provided them with food when they come to our township, some of the village elders have been killed. Can you help us with regard to these actions taken against the people of the township?

A:  Based on what you have said, we will endeavor to make the situation better not only for the people in Kyauk Kyi Township, but also in other areas where the people are suffering, by writing to the authorities concerned.  We will monitor the situation closely. While trying as much as I can to ensure that the lives of all the people in the country are calm and peaceful, I also pray that the aspirations of the people are achieved as soon as possible.

Q:  I am a farmer from the Bo Galay Township. When you made your trip to Pagan, we hoped that you would visit us in the Irrawaddy Division where we had suffered from Cyclone Nargis, so that farmers in the area could tell you in detail about our problems. We would like to know how you can help us, as we do not have anyone to help resolve the problems that we are facing.

A:  The National League for Democracy is helping as much as it can, as it becomes aware of the problems the farmers are facing. Training courses have been organized, and we have begun building a farmers’ network. We will work to build a similar network in the Bo Galay Township as soon as possible. I hope that I will be able to discuss things fully with the farmers of Bo Galay Township when I visit that area.

Q:  The actions and spirit of politicians should be pure and honest, since the people really love those who are politically inclined. Some politicians lie, though. Could you describe what kind of attitudes politicians should have?


A:  Politicians are ordinary human beings, so we cannot expect them to be absolutely pure and free from faults. But they must have a genuinely pure and honest attitude toward the country, and they must be honest in their relations with the people. Otherwise, they will not be able to work effectively in the interests of the country, and they will lose the trust of the people. At a time when they have to work within a restricted environment, they must have a sense of camaraderie among themselves. Since they are ordinary people, they are bound to have likes and dislikes, but they must avoid inciting friction among themselves or getting colleagues into trouble. People like you who appreciate politicians should also advise them. I think that this would be more effective than any advice I could give.

Q:  My father once told me that one cannot be rough in politics, and that politics must be smooth and gentle. He said that you must be able to bring people from their side to your own side. He also said that campaigning and canvassing is important, and that politics can never be successful without these things. What are your thoughts on these matters?

A:  Politics is concerned with the people at large, so it cannot be carried out according to any particular formula. A few months before my father [Gen. Aung San] died, he told a group of AFPFL [Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League] youth, “You must turn enemies into friends, and friends into people on your side.” That is politics aimed at national unity. I think one can say that campaigning and canvassing helps people accept your own political aims and beliefs. As for success in politics, this will depend on differences in place and time, but in essence one must rely on the four principles of success [taught in Buddhism], which are will power, effort, mental attitude, and knowledge.

Q:  Children of refugees from the border area and those displaced inside the country face the problem of not getting an education. Because of this, they lack any opportunity for future success. What kind of encouragement can you give these children?

A:  Among those people who have had to leave their homes and villages due to circumstances beyond their control, I understand that it is the children who have suffered the most. This is why, just as we are helping as much as we can with the education of those children, we are also trying to change the situation that has created these kinds of refugees. What I would like to say to the children of refugees is that everyone can make what they want of their lives through their own abilities. There are many people who have been brought up in wealthy circles, and yet have not been able to make themselves wealthy. But you can nurture the attitude to struggle, relying on your own abilities, to escape the ocean of suffering and poverty.

Q:  I especially like the speeches that your father, Gen. Aung San, gave to the people when he was alive. Have you kept all the speeches that your father gave? And if you have kept them, could they be broadcast in a series by RFA?

A:  It is difficult to say whether anyone has all of my father’s speeches. As much as I can, I have collected those speeches that have been published. Although the book called General Aun San’s Speeches, published by the National Literary Library of Burma, is the most well-known, I do not think that it is complete. In addition to the book called Rare Speeches of General Aung San, there are also speeches that were published in the newspapers of that era. I think that a news organization like RFA would have such books and old newspapers. If you want to hear a program on General Aung San’s speeches, you would have to ask RFA. As for me, I do not have any speeches that have not been published.


Broadcast on July 29, 2011.

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