'Genuine Union Needed'

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks on Nov. 26 about the need to bring about "real" unity in her country, saying it is not an easy task but still not impossible.

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Q:  Democracy is now being sought in Burma through a process of national reconciliation, but the generals are clinging to power out of dire fear for themselves. What would you do to address the generals’ concerns?

A:  The basis of fear is insecurity. Accordingly, we should all think about what can be done to lessen this sense of insecurity. From my own point of view, I would like everyone in our country to feel secure. I want all the people in the country, including the generals, to live with a sense of security. Let us all work together to find out how we can create a situation where that feeling of security can be provided for. I would like to encourage us all to discuss this.

Q:  We ethnic minorities have complete trust in you without reservation, since you are someone who has been working for an end to the military dictatorship and for democracy in our country. Today, though, there are divisions among the ethnic nationalities because of the military dictatorship and its violations of human rights. How would you help to solve this problem?

A:  I believe that we must build a spirit of genuine unity in order to put a stop to the splits and rifts and killings among the ethnic nationalities. This is why we and our allies in the ethnic nationality organizations have been working to ensure that the roots of a real and genuine union are firmly planted in our country … I see no reason why the nationalities should not understand each other.

I would like everyone to help us achieve this. And please also advise us on this issue. We do not believe that our organization is the only one that can accomplish this. I believe that the divisions have occurred because of the attitude that only one organization or person can solve this problem.

Q:  In my view, it is very important that civil society organizations emerge, such as students’ unions, workers’ unions, farmers’ unions, political parties, and news organizations … How will you help the development of these kinds of organizations?

A:  We [the National League for Democracy] have been involved in the development of civil society organizations in actual practice for quite some time now—for example, our political prisoners’  assistance group, the legal assistance group, the HIV/AIDS assistance group, and related groups like the deep-water well-digging group.

Developing these groups has been the same as developing  civil society. This is what we have been doing. So if the people understand this and support these efforts, we will be able to achieve our goals more quickly and successfully.

Q:  Is there [an approach to change] that is not nonviolent, but does not involve the use of arms? If there is one, I would like to know what it is.

A:  There are several nonviolent methods one can use. “Nonviolence” does not mean that one avoids action, and just meekly submits to whatever is done. We must understand that we can actively bring about change in a nonviolent manner. Everyone must work together and think of ways to bring about democracy. Everyone, each in his own way, must think of how they will help to accomplish this. I would like to say here that there is more than way to achieve this, and that is why we need to put our heads together and think of a way to do it.

Q:  All the Burmese people, both those in Burma and those in exile, are happy that you have been released from detention. What I would like to ask is, how can we lessen the fear that educated people especially, both inside and outside Burma, have—this fear that is greater than the fear of ordinary people?

A:  I think that the reason why educated people both inside and outside Burma have a greater sense of fear is that they have more to lose. They have more privileges and more material wealth, so they are more concerned about their security and are afraid to lose those things. This is how I see it. But one cannot have a sense of security by being afraid. I think that all of the people must strive to build a system that can provide this sense of security. This way of thinking must be instilled in the minds of the educated people so that they can overcome their fears.

Q:  How can we bring about the unity of Burmese people living abroad who are disunited because of differences in their opinions and beliefs? Additionally, how can the Burmese people abroad help with the work of the NLD [National League for Democracy], which is in opposition to the military government?

A:  It is not an easy task to bring about unity, but it is not impossible. I must say, though, that one must reduce thinking only about oneself. One must reduce one’s own desires. It will not be easy to unite the people if they are thinking only about what they want, what they want to see, and what they want to happen.  If we all have one specific goal, it will be important to discuss and resolve our differences and work toward achieving that goal.

You asked about how you could help the NLD, and I was wondering whether to answer that question by connecting it with your first question. My request to you would be to think about how to help and support the NLD and to use that thinking together as a way to bring about unity among the Burmese factions abroad that are divided from each other.


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