Revisiting the Extension of Daw Suu Kyi’s House Arrest and its Lessons

On 25th May 2007, the expected news of extension of house arrest by another year of Asia’s Symbol of Democracy – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi came up before the world community in Burma. The extension of house arrest was expected because incorrigible ruling military junta known as – SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) has shown in number of articles in their official mouthpiece – “The New Light of Myanmar” in last twenty –five days, that, they don’t have any regard for United Nations third committee resolutions and recent calls made by the world leaders.  The extension was surprising in only one aspect as it contradicts Burma’s Police Chief – Maj. General Khin Yi’s pronouncement at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations National Chief of Police conference held last year in May 2006 at Kualalumpur, in which he said, that, “If Aung San Suu Kyi is released, I can handle every situation and there will not be rallies or riot in Myanmar if she is released.”[i] Although one can understand Mr. Yi’s statement, that, there would be no riot in Burma, if she is released but his statement, that, also there would be no rallies in Burma itself reflects SPDC’s commitment towards democracy and people’s freedom to express their opinion in large numbers, which is reflected in their recent suppression of peaceful “White Prayer Campaign” of non-violent protest led by Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Ko Jimmy, Ko Htay Kywe, Ko Pyone Cho, Ko Mya Aye, Myo Khin, Naw Ohn Hla, Ant Bwe Kyaw and other 88 generation students group in Yangon.  The news is also a message for Russia, India and China, that how far the military regime can go to prove their arrogance towards a call made by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Louise Arbour on 21st of May 2007, for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma.[ii] It is important message particularly for Russia and China, which had earlier on 12th January 2007 vetoed the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution on Burma on the pretext of urging other members nations of UNSC to find solution for Burma in the high office of United Nations Human Rights Commission, General Assembly and its third committee, International Organization for Migration, WHO and other relevant organs. The extension of Suu Kyi’s house arrest, who has already spent eleven of the past seventeen years in detention, once again proves, that, how important was the much needed UNSC action on Burma scuttled by Russian and Chinese veto in January 2007? China and Russia, diplomatically might evade the question of the release of Daw Suu Kyi and other political prisoners as an internal affairs of Burma to gain footholds in lucrative energy, trade and nuclear fields, but their roles would be remembered as a black chapters in the future writings of world history.  

China’s Role in the extension of Daw Suu Kyi’s Detention: 

The extension of Daw Suu Kyi’s detention was more of the result of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Jiang Yu’s pronouncement, one day before on 24th of May 2007 evening, that, “the issue of the Nobel Peace Laureate was an internal affair of Myanmar and should be settled by its own government and people”, however interestingly further she stressed, following double talk policy of China on Burma, that, “Independently, we hope international efforts should be constructive and positive to help Myanmar in its political reconciliation. It serves the interest of Myanmar and also the interest of the international community.”[iii] Probably Ms. Jiang Yu or Chinese leadership is not aware or intentionally trying to befool the world community that, Burma’s military leadership doesn’t have any faith in ‘national political reconciliation’ and does not at all in their articles in “The New Light of Myanmar” recognizes political prisoners in Burma. For military leadership in Burma, “Demand for the release of political prisoners is invention of a problem that does not exists”, interestingly Military junta’s intellectual asks that, “Have they made the demand on behalf of the people?” and further concludes that, “There are no political prisoners in Myanmar.”[iv] The article appeared on 26th of May 2007, next day after the extension of Suu Kyi on 25th May 2007 and appeal made by United Nations Secretary – General Ban Ki-moon on 25th of May 2007, in which Mr. moon deeply regrets the decision of the Government of Burma to extend the house arrest and appeals to SPDC, to reconsider the decision to extend the detention and release Suu Kyi immediately with over 1,000 known political prisoners in Burma.[v] So, honourable United Nations General Secretary – Mr. Ban Ki-moon and his high office should also update their information that, “There are no political prisoners in Burma.”  It also shows that, how far SPDC regards the high office of UN Secretary General and its 22nd of May 2007 announcement of appointing his special adviser Ibrahim Gambari to work immediately with Burma to help the regime to restore democracy and protect human rights throughout the country.[vi] A week’s before for SPDC, “Daw Suu Kyi of NLD who can be dubbed as an alien fair lady slammed the Tatmadaw government with harsh words in playing a political game.”[vii] 

Mr. Yebaw Tin Shwe’s Allegation on Daw Suu Kyi and its reality: 

Another SPDC’s version about Suu Kyi recently propounded by – Mr. Yebaw Tin Shwe, who was General Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party during 1990 election, a Pakokku native from eastern Yesagyo Township is that, “Daw Suu Kyi and Min Ko Naing are bubble political leaders.”[viii] Mr. Yebaw Tin Shwe further says in different article speaking the words of military leadership that, “Daw Suu Kyi, a puppet of the neo-colonialists, danced to the tune of the US and its associates, but hers was the ogress dance, not the dance of the female leading dancer.”[ix] However the champion of SPDC cause, Mr. Yebaw Tin Shwe’s party was nowhere in 1990 election results compared with Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, which secured 392 seats in the contested 485 constituencies together with 80.82 percent votes (Shan Nationalities League for Democracy won 23 seats, Military supported -National Unity Party won – 10 seats, Mon Democratic Front – 05 seats, and other parties and independents – 55 seats). And the remnants of those political party, which failed to secure peoples mandate in 1990 election together with SPDC’s leadership are asking from Daw Suu Kyi and NLD that, “Have they made the demand on behalf of the people?” About 1990 election, Mr. Yebaw repeats the same old words of SPDC that, “election law did not stipulate any point of handing over power. To make matters worse, the NLD lacked knowledge of political tactics. Due to the situations, the NLD was further away from the opportunity to come to power.”[x] The poor Mr. Yebaw has not understood till now in his long political career in Burma, that, those who truly believes in Gandhian ideology of “Satyagraha” and “non-violence” like – Daw Suu Kyi, doesn’t see politics as an instrument of “tactics” and “opportunity” to capture political power but to serve the people. It might suit to people like – Mr. Yebaw Tin Shwe to side with any rulers who believe in power and to remain in power like –SPDC, avoiding and skirting people’s 1990 mandate, and suppressing Burmese people’s aspiration for parliamentary democracy.  

Contradictory Role of SPDC in ASEAN AMRI Meeting: 

Moreover Burma’s military leadership, while participating in the Ninth Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) held at Jakarta from 24 to 25 May 2007, accepts and highlights the proposal put forward by the Vice Minister of Information and Culture of the LAO PDR Bosengkham Vongdara, that, “ASEAN countries should hand in hand cope with regional issues such as bird flu, children and women development, environmental protection, HIV and AIDS prevention and control, climate change, human trafficking and drug abuse among teenagers,”[xi] but the extension of the detention of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma reflects contradictory role of Burma in ASEAN. At one side, military junta of Burma tries to announce commitment towards the promotion of flows of information, encouraging the media to cover more events and activities in the social and cultural areas at AMRI meeting in Jakarta, whereas at other side, Burmese Press Scrutiny Board of SPDC prohibits the publication of the biography of Burma’s late Prime Minister U Nu on his 100th birth anniversary by author – Than Win Hlaing and suppresses press freedom in Burma.[xii]   

The extension of the house arrest of Daw Suu Kyi also reflects the SPDC’s response towards recent statement made by Malaysian Foreign Minister – Datuk Seri Hamid Albar that, “ASEAN member countries must cast aside individual interest and act in concert in dealing with Myanmar on the issue of Suu Kyi in particular,[xiii] apart from former UN Secretary General – Kofi Annan’s earlier demand, present UN Secretary General – Ban Ki-moon’s appeal as well as US, UK, EU and other world leaders appeal. By this act of SPDC in its arrogance of power, it has once again failed to understand to take advantage of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s international stature and intellectual capability for Burma’s much needed economic development. It is also important for Russia, China, India and other leaders of Asia to re-think that following mud-slinging illogical tactics of SPDC towards Daw Suu Kyi and avoiding genuine political leaders of Burma while courting military junta, how far they can create a bridge between Eastern and Western civilization and real political stability in Burma? It is high time to re-think that, whether future of Asia Cooperation Dialogue and “One Asia” rests in conflict with the West or Cooperation with the Western Civilization? It is still time for SPDC, if they love Burma and its people and not power, to come forward to start a journey of dialogues among civilization rather than creating an international climate of conflict.  



[i] Myanmar’s Police Chief Sees No Problem if Suu Kyi Released, Antara News Agency Reports from Kuala Lumpur, 23rd of May 2006, Jakarta, Indonesia.

[ii] Myanmar: UN human rights chief urges release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UN News Centre, UN News Service, 21st of May 2007.

[iii] Tham Choy Lin, China Will Not Interfere in Myanmar, Bernama News Agency, Kualalumpur, Malaysia, 24th of May 2007.

[iv] Pauk Sa, Holding Placards and Gathering People to Stir Up Unrest Out of Fashion, The New Light of Myanmar, Saturday, Volume- XV, Number-40, 26th of May 2007, p.7

[v]Myanmar: Ban Ki-moon repeats call for release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UN News Centre, UN News Service, 25th of May 2007

[vi] Judy Aita, Calls Grow for Release of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, USINFO, Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State, USA, 23rd of May 2007.

[vii] Going too Far?, The New Light of Myanmar, Volume- XV, Number -32, Friday, 18th of May 2007, p.8.

[viii] Yebaw Tin Shwe, For Successful Completion of National Convention, The New Light of Myanmar, Volume XV, Number-34, Sunday, 20th of  May 2007, p.7.

[ix] Yebaw Tin Shwe, Out-of-date 1990 election results, The New Light of Myanmar, Volume XV, No. 35, Monday, 21st of May 2007, p.7.

[x] Ibid. p.7

[xi] ASEAN Countries told to Share Information, The New Light of Myanmar, Volume-XV, Number-40, Saturday, 26th of May 2007, p.3.


[xii] Biography of Burma’s late Prime Minister Banned, Mizzima News, New Delhi, India, 25th of May 2007


[xiii] Note-3

(The End) 


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