I have always admired Aung San Suu Kyi. She is not only one of the world’s most elegant and beautiful women, but also one of the most selfless and determined. Here is a woman who could have lived as a free woman with her husband and sons. Instead she chose to continue the struggle for Burmese democracy her father began. She won a general election by a landslide in 1990 but was placed under house arrest and the military took power.
She has had to watch her sons grow up from afar and make the most difficult choice of not returning to England to see her husband one last time before he died of prostate cancer. The military regime told her she would not be allowed to return to Burma if she left. She has no control over her life, cannot see whom she wishes, they even stopped her playing her piano at one stage. But throughout she has been calm, dignified and pragmatic. And every day she wears fresh flowers in her hair.
The uprising in Burma needs global support. And much as I applaud Gordon Brown for speaking out early sanctions are not going to help. What is needed is for the whole world to put pressure on China and India, two states the Burmese junta seem to listen to. They don’t give a monkeys what we think of them and the military leaders will not be short of food, it is the people who will suffer, as always. We should threaten to boycott the Olympics in China unless the Chinese act now.
The sight of Buddhist monks walking gracefully in unified protest through the streets of Rangoon is moving and powerful. But I fear instead of poise and dignity we will soon be seeing blood and violence. Although monks have a revered status in Burma this brutal regime will stop at nothing to hold on to power; power which it snatched from Aung San Suu Kyi and which the world community must now help her to regain for the good of her country and her people.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007