Commentary

Will She or Won’t She?

By The Irrawaddy 10 June 2015

RANGOON — During the nearly two decades that Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, voices from around the world made pleas for her release. As Burma’s opposition leader and democracy icon travels to China, we’ll all be watching to see if she returns the kindness for that country’s political prisoners.

Will she press China’s leaders to exonerate Liu Xiabo, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate who is still in prison on politically motivated charges? Will she speak up about Tibetan issues in return for the support she had from spiritual leader Dalai Lama during her decades fighting for democracy in Burma?

It seems unlikely to be on her agenda, but activists are nonetheless making it known that they would like to see Suu Kyi stand up for freedom both in Burma and abroad.

Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said he is still optimistic that human rights will come up during the visit, as Suu Kyi has a long-standing reputation as a rights defender.

“I hope she will talk about [human rights] while maintaining good bilateral relations between the two countries,” Bo Kyi said. “Being a politician herself, it is likely that she will raise the issue politically.”

Others are more skeptical, predicting that the meeting will focus on elections and bilateral relations in the post-election period.

Rangoon-based political analyst Than Soe Naing told The Irrawaddy that activists shouldn’t get their hopes up for a rights-oriented discussion.

“The main issue will be on the relationship between the two countries, mainly on the upcoming election and the days that will follow, because the problems the two countries are now facing outweigh the issue of human rights,” Than Soe Naing said.

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