Aung San Suu Kyi has won her place in the Burmese Parliament in Rangoon.
Something of a revolution - and a peaceful one at that.
Suu Kyi – the daughter of Burma’s nationalist hero Gen. Aung San – has spent
15 of the past 20 years in house arrest. She is, without doubt, her
country’s most prominent national and international leader and an icon for
freedom and democracy in her country – irrespective of whether you call it
Burma or Myanmar.
Had the junta in Rangoon not opposed her, she would have taken power after her
landslide victory in the 1990 elections. But at the time, the junta’s
desperate response to the nation’s preference for her National League for
Democracy (NLD) was to lock her away in house arrest.
A year later she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to democracy and
With the last 20 years as a backdrop, the junta’s permission for the NLD to
take part in by-elections for 45 seats in the 664-seat Parliament was a
major, major step forward. The junta will continue to have parliamentary and
general control, and a lot remains to happen before Aung San Suu Kyi’s dream
of a true democracy becomes a reality.
But her electoral victory has confirmed the support of her countrymen and thus
recommended the international community to back her progress towards
As such, Development Aid Minister Christian Friis Bach is right in calling on
Denmark and other countries to support both Aung San Suu Kyi and the nascent
It should be made clear to the Burmese population, Aung San Suu Kyi and the
generals that the international community be supportive, if the process of
For Denmark, it is clear that this can be achieved by involving ourselves in
those areas of development cooperation in which we have solid experience –
for example education and health. Not least that years of boycotts can
quickly be replaced with cooperation and trade, and that political isolation
should be replaced by new diplomatic relations. A Danish embassy in Rangoon
would be a natural extension of such a new partnership.
The will to introduce democracy must come from the Burmese themselves, and it
is a will that they have demonstrated more than once.
And as the generals demonstrate their willingness to transfer the reins to
popularly elected politicians such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Denmark should also
be ready to support a new and free Burma.
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