Commentary

Can Aung San Suu Kyi Survive Myanmar Junta’s Latest Attack?

By Naing Khit 24 June 2022

Three days after her 77th birthday, Myanmar’s leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi found herself in a prison of one of the most ruthless regimes in the world.

It’s hard for anyone to imagine themselves in her shoes—from a pro-democracy fighter to a prisoner, from a prisoner to the country’s elected leader, from the elected leader to a prisoner again.

At this age, she must be the unluckiest person or politician in the world to be subject to solitary confinement in prison. Worse, she is a prisoner of a brutal and wicked regime.

That’s her choice, however. Life is a choice.

If it’s a fault, then it has been her fault since the start. Consciously, she chose this life.

Since 1988, she has taken up the cause to fight for “the country’s second independence struggle”, in her own words, for her country and its people to be free from dictatorship.

She must have known that one day her life was likely to end this way.

At least, it must have occurred to her on Feb. 1, 2021 when she became a prisoner again when the military seized power after overthrowing her elected government.

An anti-coup protester holds a portrait of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Feb. 8. / The Irrawaddy

As a sensible and mindful person, she must since then have prepared to spend time alone in prison.

Perhaps this time the 77-year-old was prepared for worse things, or even the worst—to face death behind bars—given the regime’s lengthy sentences against her.

No doubt that is the final mission of her captors.

She should have known that the junta and its chief Min Aung Hlaing himself were planning to end the political life she’s chosen, and her own life too, the one her mother brought into this world.

She has been the biggest thorn in the side of the ruling generals ever since she first shook their grip on power.

Thus, the generals tried to keep her away from politics with the punishments below:

Detaining her under house arrest for 15 years over the past three decades. Annulling the electoral victories of her party. Overthrowing her elected government. Crippling her popular party. Slaying her supporters. Sentencing her to lengthy imprisonment terms. Keeping her under house arrest until recently.

All these punishments were not enough.

Sending her to prison on Wednesday was a part of their final mission.

This time, the generals seriously intend to get rid of her, unlike before. A lucky thing for them now is her age.

Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy generals and his former senior generals as mentors will feel lucky that soon they can rest assured she will draw her very last breath in prison.

But for the people of Myanmar, they have lost their leader again after losing her repeatedly in the past following her multiple arrests.

They can’t help appreciating her selfless efforts for their country. They can feel her true feeling for them. They respect her and love her. They voted for her whenever they got the chance to exercise their democratic right at polling stations.

She and her party repeatedly won landslide victories over the past three decades.She is their sole representative. She is more representative than other elected leaders around the world.

By sending their leader to prison it seems that the generals were punishing the people for voting for her.

Whatever the junta did to her was done to the Myanmar people too.

Annulling the 2020 election result was itself the junta’s attack on the people who voted for her party. The junta is waging a war against the people.

The leader suffers and the people suffer too.

To err is human, and she is no exception.

She was wrong to believe in reconciliation with the military leaders. Totally wrong. But she was not alone. At that time, many believed that working with the military was the only option.

That was a general idea or concept at that time—to try, as the best option, to rebuild the country together with the country’s most powerful institution.

That notion lasted until the coup in 2021 but is now a relic of the past. The coup destroyed that political idea. People in Myanmar no longer accept it.

Another thing she was wrong about was the generals’ genocidal intent.

She didn’t think the generals had genocidal intent when their troops committed atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2017.

In fact, Myanmar’s generals have not been professional military officers for a very long time. They long ago became “a bunch of thugs” killing innocent people, willing to destroy any ethnic people or any political group or party.

After the coup last year, the genocidal intent with which they killed many people indiscriminately was shown again.

The generals also proved that they are no more than a bunch of thugs. That’s what the people believe too.

So most people have given up on the idea of negotiating with these thugs at all. What they all seek is to uproot the military and found a new army to serve the people.

That’s what the people want their leader to understand too. No more reconciliation with that bunch of thugs. She must be with the people. Otherwise, she can’t represent the people. But history has proved that she is always a leader of the people.

Because she is the one the thuggish generals fear most. That’s why she has been arrested and attacked much more than any other leading activist or politician in the country. She is the biggest enemy for them, as most people support her.

That means she is on the right side of the people. She has continued to fight together with the people for what the people want.

That’s why on her birthday on Sunday, even young protesters in urban areas and young resistance fighters in their military outfits celebrated her birthday as their leader.

Let’s see if the ruthless generals will accomplish their final mission, which is against the people’s will. Previously, she has always survived the regime’s arrests, attempts to assassinate her and all of their wicked plots against her.

She is thin but strong. She is old but determined. She is alone but mindful. She is locked up but peaceful.

Naing Khit is a commentator on political affairs.

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