Aung San Suu Kyi’s multiple-year detention has been extended, but once she’s home she is expected to work with and for the opposition
Analysis: Aung San Suu Kyi is back behind bars. But that won’t stop Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement
The former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi has had another extension to her detention, as if to remind the world that she is still incarcerated – although the world cannot stop a mighty ascendant one.
The most disturbing news from The Lady’s corner of Myanmar is not the extension to her house arrest, after eight years and nearly two years under house arrest, but the news that her house arrest extension was granted because of health reasons.
The Burmese authorities report that she has “lost 30kg (66lbs) during her imprisonment and lost 20kg while she was in Thailand. The doctors warned that her health will deteriorate further if she is not placed under house arrest”, she was informed in a letter signed by the minister of information.
However, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is reported to have expressed her disappointment, saying it is not the health that keeps her in detention, but rather the political situation that keeps her in detention.
But what is her condition and what will be her status when she returns home?
The ordinary Burmese believe that the worst thing that could happen would be if she stayed in house arrest for the duration of her life. This is in fact in the long term interest of the international community.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been under a house arrest for quite some time now. Not long after her democratic exile in Britain, she returned to her homeland as a civilian politician, fighting for democracy.
The first phase of her political life was spent in Oxford, where she successfully edited the Democratic Voice of Burma. When the military opened talks with her democratic movement, Aung San Suu Kyi remained a prisoner of conscience for years.
In 1988, the last general election was held in Burma. It turned out that the military planned to steal the election. The reason? The electorate was actually not that great, only 35% of the people of Burma were voters, only 1% voted for pro-democracy candidate and 50% voted for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).
When the military machine proved its strength, it decided to suspend the elections, as elections had proved to be too difficult a thing for a military government to hold.
The NLD won 70 seats, the junta later decided to ignore the results and deemed the NLD a terrorist organisation.
Suu Kyi and her party were detained, and put in jail for over 10 years.
The NLD was barred from the 2004 elections and thus prevented from participating in the democratic change in Myanmar.
Following the 2008 election, under the leadership of The Lady, The NLD successfully elected a government.
This was the greatest victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and a victory for democracy in Myanmar and the country moved closer to democratic values. However, the politicians were not able to fulfill their responsibilities.
As per Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic ideals, she paid for the democratic government, as she set aside the opportunity to be the first female president in Myanmar. However, this was not a sacrifice that the nation wanted to see.
The situation in Myanmar has not worsened. The people of Myanmar are watching the democracy movement with great interest.
This is not to say that Suu Kyi cannot return to political life. The people of Myanmar do not lack her position as the highest representative of the people.
Some members of her party believe that it is still not too late for Aung San Suu Kyi to change the political landscape of Myanmar.
Therefore it is highly likely that Suu Kyi will be home free soon enough. In fact, the decision to extend her house arrest came as a shock to no one. And still, Aung San Suu Kyi will most likely return home in July.
However, what will be her role in the political future of Myanmar?
She is not the only one fighting for democracy in Myanmar. The military junta also has interests, and these interests are not dissimilar to Suu Kyi’s own. They belong to the same political gang, and while they are both lawyers, their ideology differs.
But Aung San Suu Kyi will most likely spearhead the democratisation process as she has been fighting for democracy.