Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Friday, February 3, 2012

NCGUB Response to 'Ill-informed' Article About Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the Guardian

Tuesday, November 25 2008, 10:35 AM EST

On 11 November, the Guardian carried an article: Not such a hero after all by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy questioning Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership and direction and accusing her of "political naivety and moral high-handedness". The following is NCGUB's response in the Guardian to that "ill-informed" article.

guardian.co.uk

Response
-------------------
Remember, Aung San Suu Kyi's
disengagement is not her choice

Burma's pro-democracy movement is still strong, but action
is not currently possible, says Thaung Htun

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thaung Htun
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday November 25 2008 00.01 GMT
The Guardian, Tuesday November 25 2008
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There are several misinterpretations and failures to contextualise in the article on Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Not such a hero after all, November 11).

We will concentrate on the most glaring.

The writers have wrongly assumed that the Burmese pro-democracy movement's willingness to be self-critical and/or to be critical of Suu Kyi is evidence of its demise.

They quote many figures. One, a "senior MP in Rangoon", said: "We ... have to consider seriously ... whether our sacrifices alone will actually bring victory." Another argued that "the NLD, a party that was popular, got lost". But, rather than signal the breakdown of the opposition movement, these voices prove its strength - its ability to air disagreements and to debate differences without recrimination.

Burma revels in its multifaceted culture and in its many voices, as would any who were as faithful to democracy as we are. Burmese people have proven that the clamour of multitudes does not equate to an implosion. This critical tendency is a sign of rude health.

In assessing Suu Kyi's current silence, your article sought to blame her for the ills of Burma's military regime. She is "internationally renowned for her recalcitrance rather than her compliance"; has become "mute since her arrest"; her "fight appears to have sublimated to a meditative battle"; and she has been guilty of "political naivety and moral high-handedness". The writers ask, "What new policies did the NLD generate?", the implication being that Suu Kyi's seemingly truculent disengagement is her choice, and that the "vacuum" she has created has left the democracy movement weak and directionless.

But under Suu Kyi's incarceration she is denied even the most rudimentary means of communicating with the wider world. Under the regime's iron rule, it is effectively impossible to engage the population and even those who represent them democratically.

As such, lasting policy cannot be secured as it would be policy on the run, created without due reference to our constituents - by definition, undemocratic.

Our movement encourages an educated engagement with the issues we are confronting.

Suu Kyi herself has never shied from a good debate; informed criticism is constructive and ultimately helpful. Yet firing ill-informed grapeshot in the interests of deflating a national heroine is useful only in terms of sensationalism, not solid debate.

Aung San Suu Kyi's case is quite unique in world politics. Never before has a Nobel peace prize winner been imprisoned for such a long period after receiving the award.

Few, if any, democratically elected governments have had to face such extraordinary obstacles over nearly five decades as we have.

Despite this article, we can only keep going, knowing such hollow attacks on the resolve and standing of a woman our people hold very dear will not break her will, nor that of the Burmese people who are sacrificing all to bring freedom to their country.

• Thaung Htun is the UN representative for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, the government in exile made up of MPs elected in 1990

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