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INTERVIEW WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI (r)
- Subject: INTERVIEW WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI (r)
- From: osolnick@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 20:26:00
Subject: Re: INTERVIEW WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI
Can I suggest that when interviews are posted on the net, it will be
useful if the name of the person, the status of the reporter( hwether
representing a publication or a freelance), and the expectation of the
publication or TV release be posted so that those of us who want to
interpret/ analyize the questions and the answers can follow up.
On 23 Aug 1995 lurie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> From: Caroline Lurie <lurie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Rangoon - July 1995
> Interview with Aung San Suu Kyi
> ASSK: So, I'm the one who should ask you, what is it that you
> wish to know, what do you feel you have missed out on because you
> were not here for the previous press conference?
> Q: I think we'd like an idea of what your political game plan is,
> or at least an inkling.
> ASSK: Do you think I'm going to reveal that now?
> Q No. But could you give us any idea of what your leverage is
> with the SLORC refusing to talk to you?
> ASSK: My goodness, you don't expect me to put all my cards on
> the table just after two weeks? .......Let me put it this way, we
> have made it quite clear that what we want is dialogue, and
> dialogue with a view to achieving national reconciliation and we
> will work towards dialogue at a pace which is In keeping with the
> political climate as it is and everything that I do (.....) so if
> I think it is the right time, I will ask for permission to speak
> about our policy decisions and if they.....????? Otherwise I'm
> just here because I was told that individual correspondents
> wanted to speak to me, and ......but If I did that I kept saying
> I'd never progress with my work and I'd never have anything
> interesting to give you. It would be very boring for you.
> Q: How do you feel after your release?
> ASSK: I feel rather tired, but on the whole I think I'm happier
> with the situation. I'm very pleased with the situation of the
> NLD and in some ways I think our experience of the last six years
> has strengthened our people and really made them understand what
> it was all about and it's sorted out the sheep from the goats as
> it were and we are better and stronger and slimmer for it.
> Q: What do you mean, sheep from the goats?
> ASSK: Well, some who could not take the pressure, who really
> were perhaps not ready to sacrifice too much for the cause, those
> people have drifted away and the ones who are left are strong and
> dedicated and this makes us a better, tighter-knit, more
> effective organization.
> Q: Do you think you'll be able to re-organise the NLD? Re-
> energise the NLD? There are legal and security obstacles in your
> way, surely?
> ASSK: Well, obviously we'll have to deal with the legal and
> security obstacles one by one but already I've started to re-
> organise, re-energise the NLD, that is what I've been doing for
> the last two weeks.
> ASSK: ???
> Q: If you were to become some sort of figurehead for the country,
> what about the legal obstacles, the constitution obstacles that
> stand in your way? Do you see that as something difficult?
> ASSK: We have felt that nothing should be beyond negotiation,
> everything should be open to negotiation and what we want to try
> to do is to bring about a political system that is in keeping
> with the will of the people. That was our original aim and this
> is the aim to which we adhere. And anybody who really wished for
> the good of the country must accept that all problems should be
> open to negotiation.
> Q: Do you think that the economic growth that we've seen over the
> past six years while you were unfortunately detained here, do you
> think that has in any sense dampened down the demand for
> political change, the demand for democracy?
> ASSK: The overt demand for democracy has quietened down, but this
> has nothing to do with what they feel inside, it's because of
> the, restriction placed on such demands but as I see it, the
> economic growth has not really reached the whole country, it has
> reached only a privileged few, and I do not think that that has
> in any way changed the feeling of the people.
> Q: France, alongside me French oil company Total, is one of
> the major investors in Burma. How can its presence benefit you
> ASSK: Well, that's what I would like to know. I would like to
> know how the presence of Total and all the other multinational
> investment affects the country, and by me country I mean the
> people who need it most. Foreign investment, foreign companies,
> what are they doing for the common people? Have they really
> benefited the common people in any way, this is something which
> has yet to be proved. Does It just mean more money and more
> wealth for those who already have wealth and money, does it mean
> more privileges for the elite, or does ff mean real change in the
> situation of the common people, and I think we need more proof on
> this before we decide.
> Q: Does this relate to what has been called 'constructive
> engagement' of ASEAN countries?
> ASSK: Yes, I've already spoken quite a number of times on
> constructive engagement. Of course what we would like ASEAN
> countries to see is how constructive engagement Is affecting the
> ordinary people of Burma, I've said quite frankly that I consider
> the people far more important than the government.
> Q: People who have supported constructive engagement would say
> that they have felt it made the regime feel more comfortable, by
> talking to the regime and bringing the SLORC foreign Minister to
> ASEAN meetings and so on. What would you say to that sort of
> justification of the constructive engagement policy?
> ASSK: Well, I would not refute it downright, I'm sure everybody
> has tried to ? say because in this day and age you can not stop
> up the borders and I'm sure international opinion whether it
> comes from ASEAN or whether it comes from of other parts of the
> world, does count in this country.
> Q: Former French President Mitterand wrote the Foreward of
> your book, Freedom from Fear, but his critical dialogue has been
> rather co-operative with the SLORC. How do you judge this?
> ASSK: Well, it's a little like the question that was asked to me
> earlier with regard to constructive engagement. I think all
> international opinion counts. In this day and age, any government
> cannot be oblivious to international opinion, and international
> action will certainly have some sort of effect. Exactly what sort
> of effect. Exactly what sort of effect it is difficult to say,
> because we're so close to events. I think it is only after about
> ten or fifteen years when we are further away from events and we
> know more about what went on in side the inner circle of the
> administration that we'll be able to decide definitely how much
> the effects of different, policies, the different groupings of
> countries, I have had on development in Burma.
> Q: Obviously your focus now Is on negotiations with the SLORC,
> coming to some sort of working arrangement with the SLORC, but
> beyond that, you still have to deal with the minorities, the
> ethnic minorities, who are arguably more alienated, more
> estranged, from the military than the ethnic Burmese people
> themselves. Have you got any ideas of how you might deal with
> that problem when the time comes?
> ASSK: We have always said that the key to the problem with the
> ethnic minorities and to build up confidence. It is because they
> have no confidence in the central Burmese government that we have
> all these problems, so we've got to gain their trust. Its very
> much up to us who constitute the largest grouping to try to gain
> the confidence of the smaller ethnic groups, and for that, we all
> have to try. The government alone cannot do it, all the Burmese
> people must try to gain the confidence of the ethnic minorities
> of Burma, and in the end, if they feel the can trust us, I think
> we can build up a strong union. There is nothing politically or
> economically standing as obstacle in the way of a proper strong
> and lasting union, it's just more emotional differences, so I
> feel if we can win their trust and keep our word by them, if we
> show them we value them and we understand them, we should be able
> to achieve peace and unity in the future.
> Q: In 1992, Levi Strauss pulled out and have tied their economic
> investment here to progress on human rights. Would you like to
> see other American companies also make the same decisions, to tie
> their economic investment to human rights issues?
> ASSK: This is rather similar to the question that was just asked,
> and I feel that during this wait-and-see period, where we want to
> see in which way the authorities wish to move and where we want
> to give them every opportunity to be able to come to the
> negotiation table with a clear conscience, and with the best will
> possible, I think this is something we must wait and see. I have
> said that this is not the time to rush in with investment, please
> wait and see, that I said from the very first week, please wait
> and see before rushing in with! new investment, let us see which
> way we go and when we know in which direction we are heading,
> then I think I must consult my colleagues and then make the kind
> of positive statement that we feel is appropriate in that
> Q: As to the NLD s statement when it comes out, are we talking
> days, weeks, months?
> ASSK: Ah, from the very first day I said I refuse to speculate,
> partly because Burmese people believe far too much in
> fortune-tellers and I don't want to encourage that kind of
> belief, whatever we want to get, I don t want to put a time limit
> on it.
> Q: I heard that you met the Japanese Ambassador two times, what
> do you think of Japanese government policy over the years; what
> do you think of the Japanese ODA?
> ASSK: Well, I think that is something you should ask the Japanese
> Ambassador about. I usually do not like to talk about my private
> conversations with my hosts. Since he was my host, please go and
> ask him.
> Q: Have you a clear vision of what Burmese democracy should
> ASSK: Oh yes, it's basically democracy for the people of
> Burma it's very simple: they want to be valued, they want to
> feel that their lives, their opinions, their aspirations, are
> valued by the government, X basically that's what it amounts to
> and we have to try to build up a political system which will
> ensure mat kind of valuation of the people.
> Q: Will you, will the NLD, be taking any part in the
> Constitutional Convention?
> ASSK: As far as I know, the NLD is taking part in the
> Constitutional Convention.
> Q: Sorry, I meant that section of the NLD which is currently not
> taking part in the Constitutional Convention, because the people
> who are taking part seem to be, er, what are they, sheep or
> goats, I can t remember?
> ASSK: No, we aren't very united ? and ? who have a pan in the
> Constitutional Convention, and we understand exactly why they had
> to do what they did during the last six years.
> Q: So do you see the Constitutional Convention as a useful forum
> for debate?
> ASSK: Well, I think that this Is another of the issues which
> should be open to negotiation to make it a truly useful forum for
> Q: What would make it a truly useful forum for debate? ASSK: If
> the voice of the people can be heard. J: And how would that
> ASSK: We have to work out the details one by one.
> Q: What would you like your sympathisers in Bangkok to do?
> ASSK: ?I would like them to help us achieve them.
> Q: For six years you did not give up your goal. Who or what
> gave you such strength and courage?
> ASSK: Well, partly the thought of my father, the thought of the
> people and the thought of my colleagues who were suffering far
> more serious than I was, because I was only under house arrest,
> and that's a far more comfortable situation than jail. If I ever
> thought I was having a hard time, I always knew that others were
> having a far harder time, and that inspected me and kept me
> Q: ....the Thai people .. their role in helping disorder the
> ethnic minorities around the Thai border
> ASSK: This question I think another charge asked me about a week
> back, and I made the point then that because Thailand and Burma
> are neighbours, it is particularly Important that there should be
> good relations between us, and to have good relations between
> countries, the people of the countries have to have good
> relations, so I would like the government of Thailand to look at
> this, to shape their policies in such a way that there can be
> good relations between the people of Thailand and the people of
> Burma as a whole. I know that it is not easy for the Thai
> government, but with good will and with a genuine desire to help
> build our ?? I think we can achieve this. You should always, in
> my opinion - this maybe perhaps a rather idealistic way of
> looking at things - but I think you should always give more
> attention and compassion to the weakest people.
> Q: Nobel laureate and Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama has been
> trying to effect political change through non-violent means, but
> it has been going very slowly, and I feel in my heart that you
> are very similar in your being as a Buddhist and your motivation
> to effect change in a way that's good for everyone, I don't know,
> I wondered if you'd thought about you know what you can learn
> from his experience, you know, do you think will go quicker for
> you, I know politically it's a different situation but...
> ASSK: Well, that's exactly it, politically the situation is very,
> very different, because the movement there is complicated by the
> fact that the difference is between two racial groups, but we in
> Burma, the first thing we have to do is to achieve understanding
> between the authorities and the democratic forces, and in general
> we belong to the same ethnic group - of course there are the
> ethnic groups, but they're not trying to make Burmese move out -
> so the situation which may have some kind of indirect relevance
> to your own situation, I don't think they are similar enough to
> make any serious analogy.
> Q: How much does your spiritual belief affect your political
> ASSK: That is difficult to gauge because one's spiritual beliefs
> are so much a part of one that you can not say that it is because
> of this particular belief that I came to this particular solution
> or I decided to do something in this particular way, but on the
> whole I've always tried to use my spiritual strength to promote
> the cause of which I'm working.
> Q: Sorry to keep banging on about this, but have you any sign
> whatsoever that the Slorc is prepared to talk to you? Have you
> had any indication?
> ASSK: Whether I have or not, I would have to wait until I think
> the time is right.
> Q: Will you ask the international community to take tougher
> sanctions against the Slorc if the political situation in Burma
> doesn't improve?
> ASSk: Well, it's premature to talk about such things at a time
> when we are working for reconciliation, let us not make
> provocative statements which will put obstacles in the way of
> reconciliation, when the time comes and we must think of such
> things then we will think about it.
> Q: OK. Your release has taken the world by surprise. How do
> you explain it?
> ASSK: I'm not sure. I would like believe that it is because the
> authorities themselves wish for reconciliation. There are
> theories about this, and nobody can prove that their theory is
> right, so let us stick to the most the most positive theory and
> hope that it's the correct one.
> Q: What changes did your family find in you and what
> changes did you find in your nearest and dearest?
> ASSK: Well, first With my family, I could see my sons growing and
> changing all the time because they were of that age. My youngest
> son was twelve when I was put under house arrest. He's eighteen
> now and during that period you can change a great deal. Perhaps
> my older son changed less because he was between the ages of
> sixteen and twenty-two and the change is less perceptible. In me,
> I don't know, I've never asked them if have changed.
> Q: When will the 'meeting people' sessions stop - they can't go
> on for ever?
> ASSK: Well, I find this very difficult because, you know, I find
> it very difficult not to respond to their friendship and to their
> love and affection but it is difficult, I think sometimes it
> should stop because it can be a little bit disruptive of work and
> then I start worrying about them being there, if I'm doing
> something and it starts to rain and I think they are outside, I
> feel 1 should rush out and talk to them so they can yo home, and
> that does disrupt work, and also if I have to go out work, also
> if I have to go out, I feel worried if I'm out and I'm not back
> in time and they have been waiting and it's either too hot or too
> wet or, or, ..., so I do not want to say to them 'Don't come'
> they should be allowed to come. And secondly, I am happy to see
> them. I like to keep up, to maintain this contact, but for
> practical reasons, because it's inconvenient for all of them and
> because I tend to get worried about their situation, their
> waiting and sitting in the sun, I wish that we somehow could
> arrange it so that they didn't come, that we somehow could
> arrange it so that they didn't come, that they could come in a
> way more convenient for them and for me.
> Q: Did you get any message from them?
> ASSK: Well, we're always talking to each other, it's not one
> message as such, but I think on the whole the message is that
> they want me to know they are behind me and they trust me and
> whey want me to trust them and of course this will happen because
> this is our aim to build up a country where we have politics
> based on trust and confidence rather then on coercion and power.
> Q: Do you expect the government to intervene to stop them coming?
> ASSK: Well, I do not think there is really any good reason for
> them to intervene, because they're very quiet, they do not
> disrupt the traffic-the first few days, yes they did block the
> road, but I explained to them I didn't want to have them block
> the road, and they were very co-operative about it, so I do not
> see any reason why anybody should try to trouble them-any good
> reason that is.
> Q: Do you feel that the people-I know you perhaps haven't had
> time to meet many of them yet apart from your conversations over
> the gate-but do you feel that the people have changed, that their
> aspirations have changed or matured or modified over the six
> years since 88?
> ASSK: Well, their aspirations have not changed, but I think they
> have matured, and actually I am really very happy about the
> situation. I think in many ways they are stronger-quieter, but
> stronger. Perhaps because they are stronger inside, they can
> afford to be quieter now.
> Q: Is the Freedom from fear" philosophy over? Are you entering a
> new stage?
> ASSK: No, no I think we shall always have to struggle to free
> ourselves from fear as long as we live in this world. I do not
> think that struggle will ever come to an end.
> Q: To clarify one point, the NLD, is it still the same NLD you
> that helped create in 88-897
> ASSK: It's not the same, because a lot of them have been expelled
> including myself.
> Q: True, so are you them going to, are the people going to hold
> new elections is it going to be reformed?
> ASSK: We're not doing anything of any reform at the moment. What
> we are trying to do now is to reunite the forces of those who,
> for various reason, have been made to leave the NLD and those who
> have been left inside, so this is a time for "reconciliation" I
> think is the newest phase.