[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Denver Post on ASSK

Received: from banyan.cccd.edu (dopey.dis.cccd.edu []) by spock.dis.cccd.edu (8.7.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id KAA03348 for <reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; Tue, 2 Jul 1996 10:58:27 -0700 (PDT)

>From The Denver Post (Colorado), Sunday, 30 June 1996, p. 12A:

Nobel laureate the 'Mandela of '90s'
Crusader Suu Kyi fights for people of Myanmar

By Mary George
Special to The Denver Post

Four decades ago, at a tea party given by the Burmese prime minister's 
wife, Inge Sargent met Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sargent was the princess of Hsipaw, one of the Shan states on the 
northeast frontier of the nation then known as Burma.  Suu Kyi was a 
well-behaved, unremarkable 10-year-old girl.

Today, Suu Kyi leads the National League of Democracy in the country that 
has been renamed Myanmar.  She won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and she and 
her cause have been compared with Nelson Mandela and his fight against 
South African apartheid.

"She is 'The Hope of Burma,' said Sargent, speaking for herself and 
thousands of Burmese who want an end to the country's brutal military 

Suu Kyi gained that title because of her repeated challenges to the State 
Law and Order Restoration Council, the latest reincarnation of Burmese 
military rule.  Like Mandela, she has urged the international community to 
pressure the regime by shunning trade and investment in Myanmar.

The generals have tried to control her influence, with limited success.  
In the 1990 election, her party's parliamentary candidates won more than 
80 percent of the vote.  SLORC prohibited the parliament from convening 
and arrested most of the elected delegates.

Last year, Suu Kyi was released from six years of house arrest.  Since 
then, she has addressed throngs of supporters each Saturday and Sunday 
afternoon outside the family home in Rangoon, where she lives.

A month ago, SLORC targeted the weekend gathering by passing a new law 
prescribing up to 20 years imprisonment for anyone who seeks to "undermine 
the tranquility of the state, community peace and tranquility, and 
prevalence of law and order."

But Suu Kyi has addressed crowds each weekend since.

Observers agree that Suu Kyi is insulated from the generals by the legacy 
of her father, Aung San, the nation's national hero.  "If she were not her 
father's daughter, she would long be dead," Inge Sargent said.

During World War II, when Burma was a British colony under Japanese 
control, Aung San went underground and led the fight against the Japanese. 
That feat alone won him the country's heart.

After the war, Aung San peacefully brought the nation's often warring 
ethnic states together in the Union of Burma, another giant 
accomplishment.  But in 1947, just as the country was winning its 
independence from Britain, Aung San was assassinated, an act that gave the 
national hero the status of national martyr.

Suu Kyi was 2 years old when Aung San was killed.  She was educated in 
England, married a Briton and returned to her native country in 1988 to 
care for her ill mother.  The nation's politics and economy were in 
shambles, and a pro-democracy movement was fomenting.

Suu Kyi stepped into the protest leadership role.

Despite house arrest and death threats, Suu Kyi has advanced her cause by 
playing to SLORC's weaknesses and to international sympathies, said Josef 
Silverstein, professor emeritus at Rutgers University.

"Burma is broke, and the military has been led to believe that it should 
open the country to tourists and large companies" to strengthen its 
economy, Silverstein said.

"They need foreign investment, and that is why, in my opinion, they come 
up to the gate, but they don't cross it.  They intimidate Aung San Suu 
Kyi, but they don't harm her."

Observers exude pessimism about the country's future.

"Burma is firmly under military control, stronger than at any time since 
the first military takeover in 1962," said Thailand-based journalist and 
Burma expert Bertil Lintner in an interview on the Internet.

"There is no sign whatsoever of Burma moving away from that state of 
affairs.  Civilian participation in the decision-making process is 
nonexistent, and it's the generals who are calling the shots."