All the freedom loving people in the world must have a heaved a sigh of relief when the Myanmar(former Burma) military controlled government announced the release of Suu Kyi, who had been incarcerated for 15 of the last 21 years, for her political stand against 48 years of military rule and its excesses . Many will recall that her opposition political party, the National League for Democracy, convincingly won the 1990 general elections but was prevented from taking up the reigns of state power by the military regime. She has never tasted the rewards of that victory.
Many will further recall that Suu Kyi returned to the then Burma from Britain in 1988 as an ordinary citizen returning to be with her aged mother but was thrust into the huge spotlight of politics when she reacted to violations of the human rights of her fellow country people. In a country largely unused to being led by a woman, Suu Kyi came to symbolise both freedom and democracy as she took on the military rulers and organized sweeping pro-democracy protests. The military used its might to crush the waves of protests, imprisoning Suu Kyi and killing other leading dissidents.
Suu Kyi was subjected to what many Batswana women who have been married to foreigners know too well. …. she was labeled an outsider and called unpatriotic because she had married a British national and had lived in Britain prior to her return to Burma in 1988. But to many ordinary citizens of Burma, she became a revered symbol of non violent protest despite her arrest and detention in 1989. In 1991 she deservedly won the Nobel Peace Prize for her undying spirit as a democracy campaigner. She has been in and out of detention since 1989. Her fighting spirit ignited passions far and beyond and the military authorities have battled condemnation and calls for international sanctions and isolation.
Although the military authorities in her country kept her under house arrest long enough to prevent her participation in the November 2010 elections, it is widely expected that her fearless democracy campaigns against the military will continue. Upon her release she tellingly declared that “I am for national reconciliation. I am for dialogue. Whatever authority I have, I would like to use it towards that end”.
The BCPWL takes this opportunity to rejoice with the world that this giant woman who has fearlessly dedicated her life to the fight for freedom and democracy has been released and that she will continue to inspire women and men across the world. May her release and freedom begin to heal the personal emotional wounds she suffered in 1999 when her husband died in Britain and she rejected the military government’s offer for her to travel to the funeral, for fear that it was a trap that would be used to prevent her return to her beloved Myanmar.
Secretary for International Affairs
Botswana Congress Party Women’s League.