Time Frame for Talks

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Ki elaborates on her policy of negotiations with the government.

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Q:  I absolutely do not trust the military generals, who have been wasting the country’s resources in any way they like. And I absolutely do not want the generals to think that just because there have now been discussions with U Thein Sein, the democracy forces have given in to them. If after a certain period of time, nothing happens in the interest of the people, valuable time will have been lost without any benefit. Don’t you think it would be appropriate to fix a time limit with regard to discussions with the present government? And would you take the lead in the people’s struggle if expectations are not realized and the generals make no changes?

A:  Ever since the formation of the National League for Democracy, we have embraced the policy of negotiations. If we thought that negotiations would never happen, we would not have embraced that policy. I also accept the fact that it is not right to drag out the negotiations without a time limit. Right from the beginning, I have always said that if one route is blocked, we must look for another route and continue to march forward. As to which route we decide to take, this will depend on the timing and circumstances.

Q:  We have heard that during your meeting with President U Thein Sein, you requested the release of political prisoners and that the president talked about the NLD registering and participating in elections. Could you please tell us something about this? We also heard the announcement that the Myitsone Dam project has been suspended for the duration of President U Thein Sein’s term of office. After that announcement, we heard the Chinese media saying that China will take action against Burma and criticizing us in a strong and insulting manner. We would like to hear your views regarding this.

A:  I do not have plans yet to disclose the discussions that were held during my meeting with President U Thein Sein. I think that you will have heard that work has started with regard to the releasing of political prisoners. You may also have heard that an amendment to the law on the registration of political parties has been submitted in the Parliament. Although there is talk that the Chinese company involved [in building the Myitsone Dam] will take legal action after the announcement by President U Thein Sein that he would suspend the project, there has recently been news that the two governments have been able to resolve the matter. It would be best if they can resolve the matter. It is very important to have good relations, as Burma and China are neighbors.

Q:  On the Facebook site on the Internet, young people are now arguing about whether the democracy movement will cease to exist if you are no longer around. They have been arguing back and forth about this. Could you say something to the young people about this?

A:  The democracy movement will exist as long as there are people who desire democracy. But the format could be different. Coincidentally, I would like to urge the young people to persevere and sharpen their abilities, as there will be a lot of work to be done even after democracy has been achieved.

Q:  During your discussions with President U Thein Sein, issues that you could not agree on were put aside while you worked on issues with concurring objectives. But the main political problems were the issues you could not agree on—the releasing of political prisoners and the ending of human rights violations. The other issues—like building roads and bridges and helping flood victims—were the areas where there are no reasons for disagreement. I would like to know how issues like the releasing of political prisoners, the issuing of a general amnesty, and violations of human rights will be discussed and how solutions will be sought.

A:  I have already answered such questions in the past. At this time, it is not possible to say what kind of issues will be discussed in what manner. Although it is natural for people to want to know such things, talking about them when it is not the time could, in addition to not helping, actually complicate matters.

Q:  We were all extremely happy to hear the unexpected news that you and U Thein Sein had met to discuss the beginnings of peace in our country. But at the ceremony held to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the NLD, you said that in today’s politics we must be flexible and find solutions in a peaceful manner. Every day, we still hear the sound of gunfire, news of human rights violations, and news of battles in the ethnic nationality areas. I think that the government of U Thein Sein has no desire to provide equal rights to the ethnic nationalities. I would like to know what should be done to achieve peace in the country if things continue in this manner.

A:  Peace is something that we must strive for until we achieve it. If everyone concerned really and truly wants peace, it can be achieved. If we look at our country’s history of internal conflict, we can see that this is not an easy task. But despite the difficulties and obstacles, we must use different means to continue to work to achieve it.

Broadcast on Oct. 14, 2011.


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