Suu Kyi Urges Self-Reliance as Burma Marks Independence Day

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 4 January 2013

RANGOON — Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday urged the people of Burma to demonstrate their independence by practicing self-reliance and discipline, as the country marked the end of colonial rule 65 years ago.

At an annual ceremony to commemorate Burma’s Independence Day at the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in Rangoon, the Burmese democracy icon said the government cannot form a fully fledged democratic nation on its own without the efforts of the people.

“You have to make your hope come true by work. Don’t expect anyone to be your savior. Even if you rely on the government, you are still dependent,” warned the 67-year-old Nobel Peace laureate.

Suu Kyi stressed that in the longer term the international community will decide how it will assist the country, based on how much her countrymen can perform. So “it’s very important for us to be self-reliant,” she added.

“But make no mistake—I don’t mean that we shouldn’t cooperate. Only by working together hand in hand can we realize our dreams and those of our national leaders who tried hard for our country’s independence.”

In her speech, which lasted just a few minutes, the Burmese opposition leader said that “mutual respect” was the key to resolving the ongoing conflicts in the country and establishing a democratically united country.

“As long as we don’t respect and understand ideas that differ from our own, we will not be able to achieve the democratic Union we want,” she said.

Despite her reference to conflict in the country, Suu Kyi made no mention of the Burmese military’s recent escalation of its offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), including its airstrikes on targets near the group’s headquarters at Laiza, on the Sino-Burmese border.

Meanwhile, in his Independence Day message to the country, Burmese President Thein Sein said, “Only when the country sees peace and stability, can a modern, developed country be built. In that regard, each and every citizen needs to have their hands in nation-building endeavors for ensuring peace and stability with a sense of duty.”

In a statement to mark Burma’s Independence Day, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that bilateral relations between Burma and the US took a number of historic steps forward in 2012, including the reestablishment of normal diplomatic ties and US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in November.

She added that she looked forward to continuing to deepen the partnership and cooperation between the two countries in the years to come.