Raining on Burma’s Parade

Is Suu Kyi actually considering amnesty for members of Burma’s military junta? (Photo: Jason / Flickr Commons)

Is Suu Kyi actually considering amnesty for members of Burma’s military junta? (Photo: Jason / Flickr Commons)

A Nobel Prize laureate winning leading her party to victory in an election in essentially a military government — what could be better? Aung San Suu Kyi is president of Burma’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a majority in the recent elections. The NLD is thus ensured that its presidential candidate (not Suu Kyi because she wasn’t born in Burma) will elected.

Alas, Suu Kyi may share much in common with the military junta disguised as a democracy that has been ruling Burma for decades. At Dictator Watch, noted Burma watcher Roland Watson, long a critic of hers, pulls no punches and simply calls Suu Kyi Burma’s “new democratic dictator.”

Prior to the election, many well-qualified individuals who wanted to run under the NLD banner were not selected, and some people were actually expelled from the Party. The reason: They did not toe her line or accept her absolute control. (She has also refused to develop a new generation of leaders.) She then ordered everyone in the country to vote for the Party, meaning her, and not the specific candidates. She announced that she would be above whomever is selected — whomever she selects — to be the new President. And, she has demanded that all NLD MPs commit to an oath of fealty, to vote on legislation as she decides.

Equally as egregious (bearing in mind that Burma’s population comprises 30% ruling Burmans and 70% ethnic groups):

She is further a member of the Burman ethnic group. … her words and actions (or silence and inaction) regarding the Rohingya, and the country’s other ethnic nationalities, suggest that she is a racist as well. The idea that she would insert herself into the nation’s civil war [with its ethnic groups] — and peace negotiation, an area that she has studiously ignored, is therefore problematic at best. While the Rohingya people are hoping that she will finally act on their behalf, this is also wishful thinking.

Taken out of context like this, these quotes may seem like baseless smears. But Watson has long documented these charges, which can be found in this article as well as his previous work, all found at Dictator Watch. Just as bad or worse, in an article which serves as an addendum to the above-quoted piece, Watson writes:

Burma’s Legal Aid Network has just released an analysis of the possibility that her recent meeting with dictator Than Shwe was to discuss an amnesty for regime members, for the egregious crimes that they have perpetrated. This would be passed by the new NLD-majority Parliament, and would supplement the amnesty in the dictatorship’s 2008 constitution.

… Suu Kyi … seemingly is willing to go against internationally recognized rule of law, and give the regime’s killers a pass. Indeed, she has been laying the groundwork for this, by arguing repeatedly that “everyone” — but by this she actually means the victims and their families — should just forgive and forget. She is trying to pressure these victims — through doing this she is adding insult to their injury — and ensure that they never receive justice.