Suu Kyi 'Neutralized': Shan Leader

By Lalit K Jha 20 September 2012

WASHINGTON—Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been “neutralized” by the government and, as such, she can no longer speak for the people, a prominent Shan leader alleged in the US on Wednesday.

“Opposition forces in the Parliament including Aung San Suu Kyi have been neutralized by the government by giving them posts in the Parliament. So, she [Suu Kyi] can no longer speak for the rights of the people, ”Hkun Htun Oo told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

Hkun Htun Oo is the chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy. He was arrested in 2005 for opposing the military regime, but was released earlier this year in a presidential amnesty. He is currently in Washington where—alongside Kyaw Thu, Dr Cynthia Maung and Aung Din—he is scheduled to receive an award at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Suu Kyi is also scheduled to deliver remarks at the awards ceremony.

His remarks come ahead of a visit to the US by President Thein Sein next week. Hkun Htun Oo has accepted an invitation to join the Burmese president at the UN General assembly in New York.

Responding to reporters’ questions at a news conference organized by the National Endowment for Democracy for the five Burmese recipients of the 2012 Democracy Award, Hkun Htun Oo said, “The trust in her [Suu Kyi] has gone down.”

Hkun Htun Oo said that the Burmese Government has neutralized all those who try to speak against them by offering them positions in the administration, parliament or other bodies.

“If she goes on like this she will not represent the people. She does not say anything for the public,” Hkun Htun Oo continued. He said he resented Suu Kyi’s statement that she supported the lifting of sanctions.

Meanwhile, the US-based Burma Task Force on Wednesday announced it was organizing solidarity rallies in 100 locations across the US to mark Suu Kyi’s visit. “We respect Aung San Suu Kyi tremendously for her struggle and sacrifices for democracy in Burma,” said Dr Shaik Ubaid, a founding member of the Burma Task Force.

“We will be rallying in the seven cities Suu Kyi will be visiting to show our solidarity with her struggle, and to urge her to speak up for her Rohingya fellow citizens,” he said.

The Burma Task Force also announced that it will protest the visit to the US of Burmese President Thein. “The military junta has brainwashed generations of Burmese to hold the darker skinned Rohingya in contempt. It is the only genocide in the world where the twin evils of racism and religious bigotry are at work,” said Raafay Mohammad, a Task Force board member.

“We urge the [US] State Department not to lift the import sanctions on Burma till it restores the citizenship rights of Rohingya, rehabilitates the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, brings the perpetrators to justice, and institutes anti-racism curriculum in Burmese schools,” he said.

Aung Din of the US Campaign for Burma said that the democratic and political reforms in the country are fragile and reversible. More than 300 political prisoners are still in jail, and there is a need to continue the international pressure, He said.

If all the sanctions were lifted, the international community would have no leverage on the Burmese government, he argued. Countries including the US must make their own judgment on sanctions and not be driven by what Suu Kyi says. “For me this is not the time to lift all the sanctions,” he said, adding that the Burmese government has already been given too much by the international community.