Posts Tagged ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’
8-3-2013 YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nearly 900 representatives from Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party gathered Friday in Myanmar’s main city to elect their leadership for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.
It is a sign of how far Myanmar has come with political reforms that the gathering, which runs through Sunday in Yangon, is allowed at all. It’s also a test for the National League for Democracy, which is working to transform itself from a party of one into a structurally viable political opposition in time for national elections in 2015.
NLD officials hope the first all-party congress will make the structure and operations of the party more reflective of its democratic ideals and infuse its aging ranks with youth, diversity and new expertise.
“Our party must be renewed and reformed,” said Tin Oo, 86, who helped found the NLD and is overseeing the organization of the all-party congress. “We are going to advocate for democracy, so our party must be based on democratization.”
Forged under authoritarian rule, the NLD has been, in some ways, a mirror image of the country’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. Unable to convene party meetings, with its leaders often jailed and the party itself officially banned for much of its existence, the NLD could not hold elections. Leaders had to be appointed. Secret and summary decisions had to be made. And in the unforgiving narrative of repression which has long governed Myanmar there were heroes who were not to be questioned any more than the villains they fought.
“Our party was a democratic party and the party was run by people not elected but selected; individuals like myself and Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Win Tin, 83, a journalist and one of the NLD’s three surviving founders.
In November 1988, within two months of the NLD’s founding, the party’s top leadership began planning an all-party congress to elect local and national level leaders, but was only able to hold a few township elections.
“Then all of us were sent to jail and kept there for a long time,” said Win Tin.
On Friday morning, representatives from across the country stood in neat lines outside the Taw Win restaurant, waiting to be screened for entry. Above them a row of red NLD party flags, decorated with yellow fighting peacocks, fluttered in the early light. The mood was ebullient and hopeful, as people greeted old friends and colleagues.
“I am very excited to be here,” said Nan, a 46-year old from a ruby-rich area of the northern Mandalay region, who goes by one name. “This is a step in the right direction and we hope to see the NLD transforming into a more democratic structure, in line with the changes taking place in the country.”
In addition to electing leadership committees and a party chairman at the congress, the party aims to decide on a coherent policy platform this weekend. Win Tin hopes a new, younger generation of leaders who better reflect the country’s ethnic diversity will emerge.
“At least we will have picked some people capable of leadership,” he said. “We hope. We don’t know yet.”
The structure of democracy is one thing, its culture another. Most members of the NLD, like the people of Myanmar itself, understand the contours of democracy only through its absence. This lack of a developed political culture, some party members say, contributed to infighting and irregularities that marred some of the more than 17,000 local elections the party has convened since mid-2012 in preparation for the congress.
The years of repression and Suu Kyi’s unique, iconic stature — she is greeted by villagers with cries of “Long live mother!” — have also centralized decision-making, which critics say is bad for the broader project of democracy in the country and could weaken the NLD in upcoming elections.
“All the party decisions are dependent on just Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and became a burden to her,” said Yan Myo Thein, a 43-year-old former student activist and political analyst, who is not a member of the NLD. “The decisions are made only by one person and this is bad for the future of the country and the country’s reforms. If the party goes on like this, the support of the people on NLD will waver.”
These days, the tables outside the NLD’s Yangon headquarters are littered with the junk of celebrity. There are Aung San Suu Kyi mugs, key chains, postcards, posters, photos, pins, fans and even a few corporate day planners. All are for sale.
Inside, the tight, two-story space is plastered with her image — ever beautiful and poised — and that of her father, General Aung San, who is regarded as the founder of independent Myanmar.
One could be forgiven for mistaking the place a shrine, except for the general dishevelment and buzz of activity.
Some argue that the NLD needs a single, strong leader in order to tackle their formidable opponents from the ruling USDP party — men who come from the military and understand the power of hierarchy and loyalty — but others fear that the party is not currently strong enough to survive without Suu Kyi.
Phyu Phyu Thin, an HIV activist and an NLD parliamentarian, doesn’t want to speculate on a future without her.
“We pray for her good health,” she said.
Their third meeting aimed at assessing reforms comes amid tensions in Rakhine state.
The meeting came as the government gave rare approval to a visit by a 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) team to the troubled Burmese state of Rakhine amid concerns of human rights abuses on the ethnic minority Muslim Rohingya.
Government and opposition officials confirmed the meeting between the two leaders, the first since Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in as member of parliament in May and the third since August last year when maiden talks between the two were held.
Like the previous two meetings, no details were released of the latest talks, held at the country’s capital Naypyidaw and attended also by key Cabinet ministers, including Soe Thane, who leads a government panel conducting peace talks with ethnic groups.
The Thein Sein-Aung San Suu Kyi meeting was aimed at finding a broad consensus on political and other reforms and bringing an end to long running ethnic conflicts in the country, according to various officials.
Suu Kyi was recently appointed to lead a parliamentary committee on the rule of law and in her inaugural address to the legislature last month sought laws to protect the rights of ethnic minorities.
President Thein Sein’s administration, which came to power in March last year after decades of brutal military rule, has struck ceasefire agreements with 10 ethnic armed groups but fighting continues with other groups such as those in Kachin state in the north which has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Recent clashes between Buddhist ethnic Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state in the west of the country have also left dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless.
The Burmese government has come under international pressure over the June clashes after the United Nations voiced concerns of a crackdown on Rohingya and Human Rights Watch issued a report alleging abuses by security forces in the region.
Aung San Suu Kyi had said that “the most important lesson” from the Rakhine conflict is the country’s “need for rule of law,” which she added is also key to resolving the numerous armed ethnic conflicts in the country.
In what is seen as a conciliatory move, Thein Sein has agreed to allow the OIC to deliver “urgent aid” to displaced Rohingyas, the global Muslim group said in a statement on its website at the weekend.
The approval came after he met Friday with an OIC delegation led by Jusuf Kalla, a former Indonesian Vice-President, the statement said.
The delegation briefed the president “on the concern of the Muslim world about the ongoing regrettable developments in the humanitarian situation in [Rakhine state] and on the readiness of the OIC to deliver urgent assistance to the entire [Rakhine state], without discrimination,” according to the statement.
Saudi, Turkish aid In a separate report, Saudi Arabia said its leader, King Abdullah, has ordered U.S. $50 million in aid to be sent to the Ronhingya in Rakhine. Last week Turkey announced similar financial assistance. A report on the Saudi state news agency said the Rohingya community had been “exposed to many violations of human rights including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement,” according to Reuters.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Sittwe, Rakhine’s capital, last week to assess the humanitarian needs following the June violence and is expected to brief an OIC summit in Mecca on Tuesday on the latest situation, reports say.
An activist speaks during a ceremony to mark the 24th anniversary of the Aug. 8, 1988, demonstrations, which triggered one of the country’s bloodiest uprisings, in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2012. Crowds have turned out in cities across Myanmar to publicly commemorate the anniversary of pro-democracy protests, which for the first time won approval; and partial funding; from the government. Khin Maung Win / AP Photo
By YADANA HTUN, Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar – Crowds turned out Wednesday in cities across Myanmar to commemorate the 24th anniversary of massive pro-democracy protests, with the government giving its approval – and even financial support – for the first time.
Former political prisoners joined hundreds of others at rallies in Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere to mark the Aug. 8, 1988, start of weeks of protests across the country that were bloodily suppressed by the military.
Government approval for Wednesday’s rallies would be unthinkable a few years ago. While the country was under military rule, citizens did not dare to mark the anniversary publicly for fear of arrest.
President Thein Sein, who has introduced a wave of globally praised reforms since taking office last year, sent two Cabinet ministers to inform organizers on Tuesday that the government was approving their request to hold the rallies. The ministers also handed over 1 million kyat ($1,200) in cash to help fund the events, said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 1988 uprising who spent many years in prison.
“It’s as if the government is also participating in this commemoration,” Ko Ko Gyi said in a telephone interview from Mandalay, where the main rally was being held. “I feel like this is a step toward reform.”
Presidential spokesman Nay Zin Latt said the government recognized the anniversary as a “historic event” and the president wanted to show his sincerity about achieving national reconciliation.
“The president always talks about national reconciliation,” the spokesman said. “This action can help build better mutual understanding.”
After a demonstration by students on Aug. 8, 1988, the uprising spread throughout the country, drawing an estimated million people. Several thousand were killed before the protests were crushed the following month. The military repealed the constitution and imposed martial law.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as a leader of the democracy movement during the protests. Her political party swept elections held in 1990, but the military refused to let it take power.
“The ’88 uprising was the symbol of the people’s cooperation,” Ko Ko Gyi said. “It makes us remember our friends who are still in prison and those who live abroad. It also reminds me of our hard times.”
Human rights groups say authorities are still holding an unknown number of political prisoners, although the most famous have been released over the past two years, including Suu Kyi.
Last month, authorities temporarily detained more than 20 activists ahead of a planned commemoration of the 50th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on students in July 1962.
Although all were freed after about a day, their colleagues said the detentions showed that the government remains repressive despite its reforms.
YANGON, July 14 (Xinhua) — Myanmar President U Thein Sein, who returned to Nay Pyi Taw Saturday from Friday’s U.S-ASEAN Business Forum in Cambodia’s Siem Reap, underscored that the country has reached a historical turning point with its development endeavors and democratic reforms being undertaken in Myanmar.
“Today, after nearly half a century, Myanmar has embarked on democratic path in building a new nation through peaceful transition. Myanmar is at a crucial juncture, where she has evolved from the military administration putting an end to armed conflict to achieve sustainable peace and moving toward a new democratic era while endeavoring for the development of the country,” Thein Sein said in a statement at the forum before his return.
“Myanmar is located at a strategic location in the Southeast Asia Region with abundant untapped natural resources. However, our country has lagged behind in development compared to other countries in the world,” he said, adding that the government is still encountering many difficulties and obstacles as well as numerous challenges in building a new democratic society.
With suspicion and uncertainties removed, Myanmar has started to enjoy the support of many nations with the passage of time because of its transparency and genuine goodwill efforts, he said, adding many nations understand the true situation and actual difficulties and challenges that the government is encountering.
However, he said there are still others who wish to observe Myanmar’s situation and maintain pressure on it.
To bring true change to the country, the government is striving to fulfill the wishes of the people by implementing three reform measures, he noted.
The first measure is to walk out from a centralized system that the country had practiced for half a century and eventually build a matured democratic state, in which the biggest challenge for the people and the country will be democratic practice that has been vanished from the country for many years.
He stressed the need to carry out reform measures in Executive, Legislative and Judiciary bodies to build a strong democratic foundation, while reviewing or revoking existing laws that no longer attend to the new system and this new era and reforming the bureaucratic system and the mindset of the government officials.
He said Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), has been invited to hold discussions openly setting aside the differences and working together based on common grounds.
“Today, she is a parliamentarian and she is at the Hluttaw ( parliament)” he stressed, adding that the government was also able to engage with leaders of ethnic nationalities, political parties, entrepreneurs, civil society and foreign and domestic intelligence and those from all walks of life.
Aimed at achieving national reconsolidation, the government has granted amnesty to many prisoners and relaxed regulations on media and telecommunications to enable people to have better access and enjoy the facilities openly, he recalled.
The government has also invited expatriates to return to the homeland.
Easing the printing and censorship procedures on a step-by-step basis, the government has already committed itself to enact a Media Law for media freedom and transparency in the near future, he assured.
He also cited the granting of formation of political parties, civil societies, the enactment of laws that protect the fundamental rights of the citizens such as the formation of labor union and the freedom of assembly and speech.
The second reform measure that the president said is undertaking is to achieve a long lasting peace in the country.
He said after over six decades’ conflicts in the country since its independence, last year the government launched a new mode of operation and coordination through a new dialogue, enabling it to sign ceasefire agreements with 10 ethnic armed groups and engage with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) from the Kachin State as well.
The third reform measure is to transform the centralized economy into a market-oriented economy.
As part of micro-economy exertion, the government is implementing rural areas development and poverty alleviation.
With the enactment of Micro-finance Act, the government has sought necessary assistance from domestic and foreign experts for sustainable micro-economic policy and adopted the managed float exchange rate system in Myanmar.
While implementing the three reforms measures in parallel, the government also faces numerous challenges like the recent situation in Rakhine State which the government was able to calm down and bring to normalcy.
However, U Thein Sein expressed regret that Myanmar has not received any assistance from international monetary institutions and organizations such as World Bank, IMF, ADB and UNDP in its democratic nation building endeavors due to sanctions imposed on Myanmar.
He blamed that sanctions are still restricting Myanmar from seeking technical know-how and setting up economic engagement with other countries.
He invites foreign investors to invest in Myanmar, saying that the Myanmar Investment Commission has laid down the four principles with regard to foreign investment, namely to protect the interest of Myanmar citizen, to protect the dignity of the State, to protect national sovereignty, and to allow environmental friendly investment.
He disclosed that Myanmar is preparing to enact Myanmar Foreign Investment Law of international standard, seeking advice from international experts to attract more investments that will serve both the interest of the country and the investors.
On the sideline of the forum, U Thein Sein met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among other regional leaders who had announced on Thursday in Phnom Penh the easing of U.S. sanctions against Myanmar and allowing U.S. investors to do businesses in the country in light of Myanmar’s progress made in its democratization process.
French actor Alain Delon (R) shakes hands with Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi next to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L)
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
PARIS – Myanmar’s democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi wraps up her triumphant tour of Europe in France on Thursday, after being lauded during her visits as a model of peaceful resistance to dictatorship.
The Nobel Peace laureate – who spent almost two decades under house arrest for her freedom struggle – has been cheered by crowds and leaders on her five-nation tour, her first visit to Europe in a quarter-century.
In France, she was treated with honours normally reserved for a head of state, dining at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday with President Francois Hollande, who pledged support for her country’s transition towards democracy.
Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi’s party back into mainstream politics.
Suu Kyi, 67, has in the past two weeks visited Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Britain and now France, receiving rock star welcomes along the way.
The trip allowed her to finally give her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, and to thank groups and institutions from the Rafto Foundation and Amnesty International to Oxford University for awards they have given her.
On Thursday she was to visit both houses of France’s parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – and talk to students at the Sorbonne university in Paris.
She started the day with a 45-minute breakfast with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in a Paris hotel.
On Wednesday, Suu Kyi received her 2004 honorary citizen of Paris certificate and was hailed by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe for her “tenacity” and “unshakeable faith” in her campaign for democracy in the country formerly called Burma.
Suu Kyi has enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, “The Lady”, directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.
Suu Kyi also met Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and planted a tree in the ministry’s gardens.
“For us, you are the lady of human rights,” Fabius told her during the ceremony.
“We are just at the beginning of the road. We need to be extremely careful within the next three years,” Suu Kyi said at the ceremony, referring to parliamentary elections due in Myanmar in 2015.
On Tuesday, Hollande said France gave its full backing to the transition efforts in Myanmar, and said Paris was ready to welcome Thein Sein, who also received an invitation from former colonial ruler Britain last week.
Major Western powers have rolled back or suspended long-standing sanctions against Myanmar, a resource-rich but deeply impoverished country.
Suu Kyi has on her tour called for human rights-friendly investment.
AFP,27 June 2012
Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will meet with officials in France on Wednesday after winning assurances from President Francois Hollande that Paris will back her reform efforts.
On the second day of a three-day visit to France — the last leg of her landmark tour of Europe — Suu Kyi will be made an honourary citizen of Paris and meet with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
After meeting with her on Tuesday, Hollande said France would support “all actors” in Myanmar’s reforms and that Paris was ready to welcome reformist President Thein Sein if he wanted to visit.
“I reaffirm here that France will support all the actors in (Myanmar)’s democratic transition and will do everything possible with… the European Union so that this process goes to the end,” Hollande said at a joint press conference with Suu Kyi in the Elysee Palace.
Asked about Thein Sein, who Britain last week invited to visit, Hollande said: “If he wants to come, he will come.”
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 67, came to France after warm welcomes in Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Britain and was treated with honours normally accorded a head of state, including a dinner with Hollande and other top officials.
Suu Kyi was freed from nearly two decades of house arrest in November 2010 and became a lawmaker earlier this year as part of a gradual transition towards democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.
She has used the European tour to call for transparent investment in Myanmar.
“We need democracy as well as economic development,” she said. “Development cannot be a substitute for democracy, it must be used to strengthen the foundations of democracy.”
Suu Kyi said “financial transparency in the extractive industries and in fact business in general” were essential to investment.
She said efforts still needed to be made to convince the Myanmar regime of the need for democratic reforms but that Thein Sein seemed sincere.
“I believe that the president is sincere and I believe that he is honest, but I cannot speak for everybody in the government,” she said.
“I don’t think we can say it (reform) is irreversible until such time as the army is committed to that.”
Pierre Martial, the head of the France Aung San Suu Kyi association, said her visit to France was motivated by a desire to thank her supporters in the country.
“France is a symbol in the hearts of many” in Myanmar, he said. “It remains the country of human rights and it is a country that was very mobilised for her.”
“Aung San Suu Kyi wanted to truly thank all those who helped her during these long years of repression.”
She enjoyed strong support among rights groups in France and was the subject of a 2011 French-English film biography, “The Lady”, directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson and starring Michelle Yeoh.
Suu Kyi launched her European tour on June 13 in Switzerland and arrived in France from Britain, her home for years until she returned to fight for democracy in Myanmar, leaving her children and her English husband behind.
On June 16 in Oslo she finally delivered her Nobel Peace Prize speech, 21 years after winning the award while under house arrest, pledging to keep up her struggle for democracy.
Suu Kyi’s trip to Europe has been clouded by violence in western Myanmar where dozens have been killed and an estimated 90,000 people have fled clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya.
Asked about the violence on Tuesday, Suu Kyi said democratic reform was essential to resolving civil conflicts.
“We will need time to bring true harmony between the Muslims and the Buddhists,” she said.
“What is most important at the moment is that we should establish rule of law,” she said. “We need to make sure that these citizenship laws are in line with international standards.”
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for the last leg of her historic European tour on Tuesday in Paris, where she will be treated with the honours of a visiting head of state.
The 67-year-old Nobel Peace laureate arrives in France after warm welcomes in Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Britain and will meet with French President Francois Hollande and other senior officials.
“France will pay tribute to this woman’s exceptional struggle for human rights and will mark its active support for the democratic transition under way” in Myanmar, foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
Suu Kyi will arrive in Paris by train from London on Tuesday afternoon, before heading to the Elysee Palace for dinner and a press conference with Hollande.
During her three-day visit Suu Kyi will also meet Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, the heads of both chambers of parliament, members of the local Myanmar community and her supporters in human-rights groups.
Pierre Martial, the head of the France Aung San Suu Kyi association that supported her in the country, said she would use the visit to urge French authorities and businesses to back the country’s democratic transition.
“She is calling on some countries to give concrete help, to invest… in a reasonable and fair way, to help the country revive after years of economic and political horror,” he said.
He said the visit would also serve for Suu Kyi “to thank all those who helped her during these long years of repression”.
Martial urged French authorities to “commit very concretely” during her visit to providing both financial and moral support to independent pro-democracy groups operating in the country.
A French diplomatic source said that her visit was “a message of confidence in the future of a country that has chosen to break with detestable practices” and that France would support Myanmar in this move.
Suu Kyi was freed from nearly two decades of house arrest in November 2010 and became a lawmaker earlier this year as part of a gradual transition towards democracy in Myanmar.
She launched her European tour on June 13 in Switzerland and will arrive in France from Britain, where she studied and lived for several years until she returned to fight for democracy in Myanmar, leaving her children and her English husband behind.
On June 16 she finally delivered her Nobel Peace Prize speech, 21 years after winning the award while under house arrest, in Oslo, pledging to keep up her struggle for democracy.
Despite some optimism surrounding reforms in the country, France-based groups including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League (LDH) urged the international community to maintain pressure on Myanmar’s leadership for reform.
In a statement on Monday, the groups called for “great caution regarding the easing of economic sanctions and an increase in investment” in Myanmar, noting “the lack of an independent judicial system” and “continued repression of public demonstrations”.
Suu Kyi’s visit to Europe has been clouded by continued violence in western Myanmar where dozens of people have been killed and an estimated 90,000 people have fled clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and stateless Muslim Rohingya.
Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi received an honorary degree on Wednesday from Oxford, the prestigious British universitSuu Kyi was a student at Oxford in the 1960s and returned with her family to live in the town during the 1980s.
She said Wednesday it had been a good life.
“The memories were in fact very simple ones – summer days like these, when I went on the Cherwell with friends, in a punt, or sat reading on the lawn at St Hugh’s, or in the library not looking at a book but out of the windows,” Suu Kyi recalled.
Oxford is a picturesque town in the south of England, which has changed relatively little since Suu Kyi left Britain in 1988.
A winding river runs through the old town, scattered with historic colleges, bicycles, and swarms of young students.
But for Suu Kyi, much has changed since she lived on a residential street with her family.
Her children have grown and her husband, Tibetan scholar Michael Aris, passed away. In her country Burma, decades of military rule have come to an end.
Andrew Dilnot is principal at St Hugh’s College where Suu Kyi was a student. He says her long campaign for democracy in Burma has been an inspiration for a new generation of students.
“She’s been able to stand for values that naturally appeal to young people,” said Dilnot. “So the importance of freedom, the importance of democracy, the importance of peaceful approaches to the resolution of conflict.”
On the streets of Oxford students told said that they felt proud of their university’s link to Suu Kyi.
“She’s been such a powerful figure for women and for young girls as well as politically fighting for freedom essentially. So I think that she encompasses so much that is important,” said one student.
Suu Kyi is making a tour of Europe. She has already visited Switzerland, Norway, and Ireland. She will also stop in France before returning to Burma. y where she studied before embarking on her long campaign to bring democracy to Burma. It’s a short but significant stop on Suu Kyi’s two-week Europe tour.
Speaking in Oxford Wednesday, Suu Kyi said she had lived a happy life in the university town.
“During the most difficult years I was upheld [by] my memories of Oxford,” said Suu Kyi. “These were among the most important inner resources that helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face.”
Jun 21st 2012, by A.A. | OXFORD
THIS week two Nobel-peace-prize laureates, both international figures of inspiration, find themselves visiting Britain: the leader of Myanmar’s (ie Burma’s) opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi; and also the Tibetans’ exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. On June 19th, in London, the two met
The rendezvous, not publicised on either of their official schedules, was disclosed by the Dalai Lama’s office on Twitter only the next day, where it was described simply as “a private meeting”. The Dalai Lama, who had previously called for Miss Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, is reported to have told her “I have real admiration for your courage.” He also gave her his blessing, as one Buddhist to another. The obvious backdrop to any such blessing would be the separate political struggles of Myanmar and Tibet. The two places have a certain neighbour in common.
China’s leaders will not be happy to learn of the meeting. The Dalai Lama’s ten-day visit to Britain has given fresh occasion for China to denounce him. In a further measure, the Chinese Olympic committee threatened to withdraw some of its athletes from training in England. The Dalai Lama shrugged off all this as “routine”. He is as accustomed to acting as a hate figure for the Chinese government as he is to being a symbol of hope to many people elsewhere.
Myanmar has also vexed China, its most involved economic partner, of late. Last year its president, Thein Sein, suspended a hydropower dam being built with Chinese backing in northern Myanmar. Reforms that have been initiated by his once perfectly authoritarian government—such as those that enabled Miss Suu Kyi to win a parliamentary seat in April—have been seen in part as an attempt to build better relations with other countries, that Myanmar should not remain so reliant on China’s good graces.
One danger for Miss Suu Kyi is that she could develop hate-figure status with the Chinese government. It would surely hurt her movement if she were to join the Dalai Lama in China’s official view as a “jackal in monk’s clothing” (or a jackal in a htamain, as it were). As her role evolves from dissident to politician, she will have to deal with politicians in Beijing. A meeting with the Dalai Lama does nothing to nurture their trust in her, and could frustrate the sort of progress that her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), pursues in Myanmar.
That the two met in London may also strain Britain’s already tense relations with China. When David Cameron met the Dalai Lama last month, the Chinese government rebuked Britain and called off a senior official’s visit.
On the evening of June 19th, Miss Suu Kyi celebrated her 67th birthday at a private garden party in Oxford, her old university and former home. Her return to Britain—by way of Oslo, where she collected the Nobel peace prize that was awarded her in 1991, when she was under house arrest—is part of her second trip outside Myanmar in the past 24 years. (She visited Thailand last week.) In 1988, when she had returned to Yangon (then Rangoon) from Britain to care for her ailing mother, she was caught up in pro-democracy demonstrations. At the time and ever since she chose at great personal sacrifice not to leave Myanmar, for fear that she would not be allowed back.
Her audience with the Dalai Lama is the product of unusual circumstance. She was long not at liberty to leave her home in Yangon; he was forced to flee his in Lhasa. She is working to steer her country in a new direction, while he can do little to influence Tibet’s fate. Both must hope that China’s displeasure at their meeting will not impede the work that Miss Suu Kyi has ahead of her back home.