Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar Military

myanmar_span-articleLargeIt was with somewhat of a shock yesterday that we saw pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myamnmar’s apostle of nonviolent resistance, sitting on the reviewing stand of an Armed Forces Day parade, amongst those who certainly had a voice in keeping her under house-arrest for 15 years, unable to leave even to be with her dying husband in England.

On the other hand, those who are thrust into such positions have to learn to play the long game.  She cannot afford to act out of personal resentment.  If Myanmar is ever to escape the yoke of the past 50 years the army must come along too.   [NY Times: Fuller]

I thought as I watched The Lady the other night, Luc Besson’s bio-pic of her years under arrest, that he missed showing us a major part of her character and charismatic power:  until the very last moment there was no suggestion of how she dealt with the soldiers she saw daily for all those years.

It’s for sure certain, unless resistance to dictatorship can make inroads into the rank and file of the armed forces, making it hard to impossible to carry out orders to kill their fellow citizens, no toppling of the generals will ever happen.  Even in the case of full fledged, armed civil war, disaffection,  desertion and refusal to join play large parts in who comes out with ability to govern.

In any event, I am always suspicious of arm chair pundits opining on what others should do.  The only tough question is of ourselves: what would I do?  Indeed, what do I do in the difficulties of my own, less exalted, life?

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The US is right of course to be concerned with the military and the ongoing communal violence in Myanmar.

“We do remain deeply concerned about the communal unrest in central Burma,” State Department acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters, using the country’s former name.

“We are urging Burmese authorities… to restore order and maintain peace in a manner that respects human rights and due processes of law… So that’s really the appropriate role for the military.”

Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized for letting her voice grow silent about the murder of Myanmar Muslims.  The army has been faulted for standing by, even for abetting the nationalist-Buddhism on the rise, especially given its well known intrusion with fire and blood on the civil unrest of just a few years ago.  Much to be done in little time.

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