Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told the Voice of America (VOA) Burmese service on Tuesday that the transition to the current government is not enough.
‘It’s not enough to have a transition to a democratic government, what we need are for democratic institutions to take firm root in this country, and I would like to be able to help in this process,’ Suu Kyi told VOA.
US special envoy to Burma Derek Mitchell meets with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon on Monday, September 12, 2011. They discussed US-Burma related policies and issues. Photo: Mizzima
VOA’s Burmese service correspondent, Khin Soe Win entered Burma with a journalist visa, and interviewed Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Tuesday, a rare occasion granted to the news agency.
The back page of the Burmese state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar has listed VOA as one of the news agencies “sowing hatred amongst the nation” for many years, along with the BBC and the Democratic Voice of Burma.
In the TV interview, Suu Kyi told VOA that freeing political prisoners in Burma and the fight for a real democracy were inextricable. “I don’t think you can separate different elements of the process towards democracy…the release of political prisoners is one of the aims of trying to democratize our country – that there may be no political prisoners.’
She also said that it was a personal choice for Burmese exiles to return to Burma under the current government. For those who were interested in taking part in the political process of the country, she said: “They’ve got to decide whether they want to take part in the political process in the way in which it is possible to do here in Burma, or in the way in which they have been moving throughout these years abroad. Certainly, conditions will not be the same in Burma as abroad.”
Asked when she thought would be the appropriate time for Western sanctions to be lifted from the country, Suu Kyi said, “I think when the reasons for which sanctions were instituted in the first place indicate that real change has taken place and that it is time for a new approach.”
In a recent documentary released by Al Jazeera’s “101 East,” Suu Kyi said, “Sanctions were instituted for political reasons… a lot of people shout and scream about the fact that sanctions are making life tougher for the people of Burma, and this is not the case at all.”
The Obama administration renewed its policy of targeted economic sanctions on Burma in May this year, citing lack of progress and continued repression of the democratic opposition as its motives. In keeping with the Obama administration’s policy of building upon US dialogue and engagement with the government in Burma, special envoy to Burma and policy coordinator Derek J. Mitchell was appointed in August this year.
Visiting Burma for the first time in his position as coordinator this week, Mitchell said he saw prospects of progress in gradual change in Burma, NLD spokesman Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima earlier this week.
Citing Burma’s more than 2,000 political prisoners, the need to investigate widespread human rights abuses and concern over Burma’s military relationship with North Korea, Mitchell said, “Progress on these issues will be essential to progress in the bilateral relationship…If the government takes genuine and concrete action, the United States will respond in kind,” Reuters reported on Wednesday.