'Move Towards Freeing Prisoners'

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Ky fields questions on her meetings with Burmese President Thein Sein.

2011.09.06
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Q:  Throughout my life, you have been the person I have respected, revered, valued, and admired the most. As a woman, you have become someone whom the world has come to recognize as a smart and clever person, with a huge capacity for resilience. According to the latest news, I feel that you will soon be able to play a prominent role in giving advice in Burmese affairs. When do you hope to implement that role? Also, have you been able to access international news from television, the Internet, and the newspapers? How long have you had those privileges? Finally, we look forward to the time when you will be Burma’s leader. We would therefore urge you to look after your health and continued resilience, and to be especially vigilant against any attempt to assassinate you. We cannot lose you like we lost our beloved Gen. Aung San, whom we lost unexpectedly. [Note: Gen. Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, led Burma to independence from Britain.]

A:  May I start by thanking you for your kindness and good wishes. At this time, our National League for Democracy (NLD), in accordance with its policy position, will continue to cooperate as much as we can with President U Thein Sein in his efforts to work in the interests of the country. This cooperation will be directed toward the happiness and the physical and mental health of the people. In this delicate and difficult situation, we rely a lot on people like you who have supported us with a warm heart and clear vision. Please do not worry about me. I would just like to ask you to continue supporting us so that we can achieve success in our efforts in the interest of the country. With regard to access to world news, although I do not have a satellite dish at home, I do have access to radio and Internet news. I have been able to get on the Internet since the early part of this year.

Q:  We have heard and seen news every day about your discussions with President U Thein Sein. I believe that you must have discussed the release of political prisoners during these talks. To what extent were you able to discuss the release of political prisoners, and to what extent can we hope for their release? My name is Myo Myint. I served in the engineering corps of the Burmese military and left after being wounded on the front line. Later, I was imprisoned for over 15 years because of my efforts in working for peace and democracy. I think you may remember me.

A:  I do remember you very well. I have also heard your interviews with various media organizations. With regard to the meeting and discussions with President U Thein Sein, apart from the official statement issued by the NLD, there is nothing more that I can say at this time. I believe that cooperation toward the eventual flourishing of a democratic system in Burma will also move toward the release of the political prisoners.

Q:  I am very happy to hear that Burmese people living abroad can now return to Burma. I think that you must have discussed this with President U Thein Sein. What are the conditions that will allow us to return to Burma? Also, do you feel that President U Thein Sein treated you with sincerity and openness during your meeting? Did the president’s family and other top leaders treat you properly?

A:  The National League for Democracy has already released a statement with regard to the meeting with President U Thein Sein. I have also said that I am satisfied and pleased with the meeting. During my meeting with President U Thein Sein, and during the discussions held at the workshop with some of the cabinet members, the talks were open and friendly. With regard to the details about Burmese nationals returning to Burma, I think that you will have to ask about this at the respective embassies.

Q:  What are the prospects for the future after your meeting with President U Thein Sein? Are the ethnic nationalities going to be left behind? We have seen President U Thein Sein saying that he does not know if the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is repressing the Kachin people, or if refugees are fleeing in the Kachin state because of the KIO. Do you yourself believe that this is the case? Will you be mediating between the KIO and the military government?

A:  Whatever else is done in the interest of the country, the ethnic nationalities cannot be left behind. National reconciliation has been our goal for the last 20 years, and there is no reason to change this now. We said in our press statement with Minister U Aung Kyi that we would avoid clashing views, overcome differences in opinions, and cooperate with one another. At this time, when we are all trying as much as we can to build understanding, we must avoid disagreeable issues and must nurture reciprocal respect and forgiveness for one another. We have been striving for years to achieve success, and this is not as easy as one might think. But if we really try hard, success can be achieved. As for myself, I will always speak and act with the goal of smoothing things out with the ethnic nationalities.

Q:  I have not been able to visit my brother-in-law, the comedian Ko Zargana, who is in Myitkyina prison. It has been 15 months since I last visited him, on May 17, 2010. His family has asked me to visit him in prison as it is too far for them to go themselves. They have asked me to look after his health and living conditions. I am registered as a family member, so I don’t know why I have not been given permission to see him. I have twice submitted letters to the authorities concerned, asking for permission, and they have not replied in any way. What should I do now?

A:  I have heard from radio broadcasts that you have not been given permission to visit him in prison. I feel sorry about that. Since this matter concerns the rules and regulations of prisons, it would be best to consult with legal experts. Please contact the NLD legal assistance group if you like. They will willingly help you.

Q:  I believe that a person who has developed a sense of fear, no matter when he acquired that fear, is a matter of concern, as this could have an adverse effect on the future of his country. In Burma for example, crying children are told that the devil will eat them if they don’t stop crying. The children may stop crying, but on the other hand this is instilling a sense of fear in them. In the schools also, teachers instill fear in the children with threats of caning. And in some homes, fathers act like dictators. I believe that these situations are related in some way to the rule of military dictators in our country. How can people be free from this sense of fear?

A:  Children will be free from this sense of fear that they developed while growing up only if the causes can be removed. The people must make changes, after due consideration, as to how students are treated and nurtured and developed in the schools. This effort must be carried out by responsible people in the fields of education and social affairs. Only then will those persons who have been brought up with this sense of fear be able to overcome it. I myself was very frightened of ghosts when I was young. But when I analyzed on my own what I was frightened of and why I was frightened, I was able to eliminate my fear. In the end, it is only you who can eliminate your fear.

Program broadcast on Aug. 26.

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