Myanmar state media warns Suu Kyi, but other countries express support

Updated On: Jul 01, 2011

Myanmar's state media has warned pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi not to "go on playing political games", a day after the government told her to stay out of politics.

Earlier, the interior ministry sent a letter to the 66-year-old Nobel peace prize laureate, saying her National League for Democracy (NLD) party was breaking the law by keeping its offices open and holding meetings.

The English-language New Light of Myanmar said yesterday: "If they go on playing political games, disregarding the constitution and the government that have been internationally recognised, they cannot hope (for) any fruitful results...what they are resorting to will have adverse effects on the interests of the people."

Suu Kyi's NLD was officially disbanded by Myanmar's authorities because it boycotted last year's elections, saying the rules were unfair. The party won a landslide election victory in 1990 that was never recognised by the junta. Suu Kyi herself was freed in November, after seven straight years of house arrest. Her release came less than a week after the controversial elections in Myanmar.

Yesterday's newspaper comment also responded to a new video lecture by Suu Kyi, broadcast earlier this week by the BBC. Suu Kyi said the recent uprisings in the Middle East had given fresh hope to people in her country.

Report: Myanmar state press warns against Suu Kyi 'games' [AFP, 30 June 2011]

In the Reith Lectures broadcast, Suu Kyi said "the universal human aspiration to be free has been brought home to us by the stirring developments in the Middle East."

"Do we envy the people of Tunisia and Egypt? Yes, we do envy them their quick and peaceful transitions"

"But more than envy is a sense of solidarity and of renewed commitment to our cause, which is the cause of all women and men who value human dignity and freedom," she added.

Aside from broadcasting the lecture on international radio, the BBC also distributed it online as a podcast and transcript. A second lecture from Suu Kyi will air on Tuesday, discussing what drives people to dissent.

Video Clip: Aung San Suu Kyi Lecture 1: Liberty [BBC, 28 June 2011]

Podcast and Transcript: Aung San Suu Kyi Lecture 1: Liberty [BBC, 28 June 2011]

But the state media criticised Suu Kyi for comparing Myanmar to the Middle East. The New Light piece said she should help to transform Myanmar "from functional into ideal democracy, instead of dreaming of following the trend of uprisings". According to the newspaper, "Aunty Suu" should act "in a gentle way for national unity", focusing more on social welfare than confronting the government.

Despite the warning, Suu Kyi has no plans to cancel her planned political tour around Myanmar. The state has warned that "chaos and riots" could ensue if she goes ahead.

Before she embarks on the political tour, Suu Kyi will be travelling for private reasons next week. This will be the first time she is going outside Yangon since her release, and will be a test of her ability to travel around the country unhindered.

According to NLD sources, Suu Kyi is flying to the city of Bagan with her son Kim Aris for a private visit. This is only the second time Suu Kyi has seen her youngest son since her release. She was reunited with the 33-year-old British national in November, after a decade of separation.

Report: Suu Kyi to travel for first time since release [AFP, 1 June 2011]

UPDATE: Suu Kyi has arrived in Bagan for a four-day visit, greeted by a crowd of supporters and journalists. The NLD has reiterated this is a personal vacation and not a meet-the-people visit.

Analysis:  Aung San Suu Kyi has to tread softly – but governments must tell it like it is [The Guardian, 4 July 2011]

Commenting on the situation, the US has urged Myanmar to ensure that Suu Kyi is "free to travel, free to express her views and to fully participate in political activities".

A US state department spokesman told reporters the US is concerned "for her safety and her security", adding "it is the responsibility of the Burmese authorities in fact to ensure her safety and that of Burma's citizens".

Report: US urges Myanmar to ensure Suu Kyi freedoms [Straits Times, 30 June 2011]

Similarly, Britain has expressed worry at the "menacing" attitude of Myanmar's government and state media towards Suu Kyi.

"The authorities' warning that she will face consequences unless she plays by their rules is at odds with their message on dialogue and reconciliation," said UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"Aung San Suu Kyi should be able to travel freely and without risk to her personal security. The international community will be watching developments closely," he added.

Report: Britain warns Burma over 'menacing' tone towards Aung San Suu Kyi [The Telegraph, 30 June 2011]

Japan has also conveyed its support. Japan's Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Makiko Kikuta met with Suu Kyi this week, at her party's office in Yangon.

Suu Kyi expressed sympathy for the victims of the March earthquake and tsunami, while Kikuta told Suu Kyi her country will continue offering aid to Myanmar, especially to meet the basic needs of Myanmar's people, but will take into consideration human rights and democracy in the country.

Report: Japan to support Myanmar rights, Suu Kyi assured [The Japan Times, 1 July 2011]

UPDATE: Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd also urged Myanmar to guarantee Suu Kyi's safety, during his official visit to Myanmar.

Report: Burma must ensure Suu Kyi's safety: Rudd [AFP, 3 July 2011]

Meanwhile, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh says she is shocked and saddened about being deported from Myanmar last week. She was apparently thrown out of the country over her leading role in a movie about Suu Kyi.

“The immigration authorities treated me cordially, but deported me upon arrival for no reason and without providing any justification,” Yeoh said.

Directed by French director Luc Besson, Yeoh plays the role of Suu Kyi in "The Lady", a biopic scheduled for international release in October.

Report: Yeoh shocked at deportation by Myanmar [The Star, 1 July 2011]

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