Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Basic Stand 

  In October 2009 Burma's popular dissident leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sent word to outside about her fundamental stand and doctrine. She cited three of her speeches or articles as her basic position: I. All we want is our Freedom, Parade Magazine, 9 March 2003 II. Please use your liberty to promote ours, New York Times, 4 February 1997 III. Acceptance speech at Jawaharlal Nehru Award presentation ceremony, New Delhi, India, 1993 I

Parade Magazine March 9 2003 Traveling across Burma, I ask people why they want democracy. Very often the answer is, “We just want to be free.” They do not have to elaborate. I understand what they mean. They want to be able to live their lives without the oppressive sense that their destiny is not theirs to shape. They do not want their daily existence to be ruled by the orders and whims of those whose authority is based on might of arms. When I ask young people what they mean by freedom, they say that they want to be able to speak their minds. They want to be able to voice their discontent with an education system that does not challenge their intellect. They want to be able to discuss, criticize, argue; to be able to gather in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands to sing, to shout, to cheer. Burma’s young people want to play out the vitality of their youth in its full spectrum of hope and wonder–its uncertainties, its arrogance, its fancies, its brilliance, it rebelliousness, its harshness, its tenderness. What do the women of Burma want? They tell me that they want to be free from the tyranny of rising prices that make a household an exhausting business. They want to be free from anxiety that their husbands might be penalized for independent thinking–or that their children might not be given a chance in life. Many — too many – long to be free from having to sell their bodies to support their families. The farmers and peasants I meet want to sow and plant as they wish, to be able to market their products at will, unhampered by the coercion to sell it to the state at cruelly low prices. They struggle daily with the land. They do not want unreasonable decrees and incomprehensible authority to add to their burden. And what about those of us in the National League of Democracy? Why are we working so hard to free our country? Is it not that we see democracy through a haze of optimism. We know that democracy is a jewel that must be polished constantly to maintain its luster. To prevent it from being damaged or stolen, democracy must be guarded and unremitting vigilance. We are working so hard for freedom because only in a free Burma will we be able to build a nation that respects and cherishes human dignity. As I travel through my country, people often ask me how it feels to have been imprisoned in my home –first for six years, then for 19 months. How could I stand the separation from family and friends? It is ironic, I say, that in an authoritarian state it is only the prisoner of conscience who is genuinely free. Yes, we have given up our right to a normal life. But we have stayed true to that most precious part of our humanity–our conscience. Page 1 of 5   

Here is what I want most for my people: I want the security of genuine freedom and the freedom of genuine security. I would like to see the crippling fetters of fear removed, that the people of Burma may be able to hold their heads high as free human beings. I would like to see them striving in unity and joy to build a safer, happier society for us all. I would especially like to see our younger people stride confidently into the future, their richness of spirit soaring to meet all challenges. I would like to be able to say: “This is a nation worthy of all those who loved it and lived and died for it–that we might be proud of our heritage.” These are not dreams. These constitute the reality towards which we have been working for years, firm in our faith that the will of the people will ultimately triumph. II

'Please Use Your Liberty to Promote Ours'
New York Times February 4, 1997 Those of us who decided to work for democracy in Burma made our choice in the conviction that the danger of standing up for basic human rights in a repressive society was preferable to the safety of a quiescent life in servitude. Ours is a nonviolent movement that depends on faith in the human predilection for fair play and compassion. Some would insist that man is primarily an economic animal interested only in his material well-being. This is too narrow a view of a species which has produced numberless brave men and women who are prepared to undergo relentless persecution to uphold deeply held beliefs and principles. It is my pride and inspiration that such men and women exist in my country today. In Burma it is accepted as a political tradition that revolutionary changes are brought about through the active participation of students. The independence movement of our country was carried to a successful conclusion by young leaders, including my own father, General Aung San, who began their political careers at Rangoon University. An institution with such an outstanding reputation for spirited opposition to established authority is naturally a prime target for any authoritarian government. The Burmese military regime which assumed state power in 1962 blasted the Rangoon University Students' Union building out of existence within a few months of taking over and made it illegal for students to form a union. In 1988 the people of Burma rose up against the rule of the Burma Socialist Program Party, the civilian cloak of a military dictatorship. At the vanguard of the nationwide demonstrations were students who demanded, among other basic rights, the right to form a union. The response of the military junta was to shoot them down. More than eight years on, the students of Burma have still not relinquished their quest for an association that would promote their interests and articulate their aspirations and grievances. As recently as December, there were student demonstrations where the call for the right to form a union was reiterated. The security forces used violence to disperse the demonstrators, and a number of young people from my party, the National League for Democracy, were arrested on the grounds that they had been involved in organizing the demonstrations. I was accused of having discussions with the students. Things have indeed come to a sorry pass in a country if meetings between politicians and students are seen as acts of subversion. My party has never made a secret of its sympathy for the aspirations of students. We work to forge close links between the different generations so that a continuity of purpose and endeavor might be threaded into the fabric of our nation. Page 2 of 5   

When we are struggling against overwhelming odds, when we are pitting ourselves against the combined might of state apparatus and military power, we are sometimes subject to doubts — usually the doubts of those whose belief in the permanence of an existing order is absolute. It is amazing how many people still remain convinced that it is wise to accept the status quo. We have faith in the power to change what needs to be changed but we are under no illusion that the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy will be easy, or that democratic government will mean the end of all our problems. We know that our greatest challenges lie ahead of us and that our struggle to establish a stable, democratic society will continue beyond our own life span. But we know that we are not alone. The cause of liberty and justice finds sympathetic responses around the world. Thinking and feeling people everywhere, regardless of color or creed, understand the deeply rooted human need for a meaningful existence that goes beyond the mere gratification of material desires. Those fortunate enough to live in societies where they are entitled to full political rights can reach out to help their less fortunate brethren in other areas of our troubled planet. Part of our struggle is to make the international community understand that we are a poor country not because there is an insufficiency of resources and investment, but because we are deprived of the basic institutions and practices that make for good government. There are multinational business concerns which have no inhibitions about dealing with repressive regimes. Their justification for economic involvement in Burma is that their presence will actually assist the process of democratization. But investment that only goes to enrich an already wealthy elite bent on monopolizing both economic and political power cannot contribute toward égalité and justice — the foundation stones for a sound democracy. I would therefore like to call upon those who have an interest in expanding their capacity for promoting intellectual freedom and humanitarian ideals to take a principled stand against companies that are doing business with the Burmese military regime. Please use your liberty to promote ours. (Adapted from the commencement address to the American University in Washington delivered on her behalf by her husband) III ACCEPTANCE ADDRESS OF DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI at the Jawaharlal Nehru Award presentation ceremony New Delhi 1993 (delivered on her behalf by Daw Than E) Mr. President, Mr. Vice-President, Mr. Prime Minister, Member of the Nehru Award Committee, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests and Dear Friends: This is an occasion for mixed emotions. There are strong ties of friendship and shared political ideals that bind me to so many people in India. I do not remember a time when I did not know about India and "Panditji" as we always referred to Pandit Nehru in our family. To be awarded a prize for international understanding established in his memory is a matter of pride and joy for me. On the other hand I am well aware that the prize comes to me not as an individual but as an individual but as a representative of the democracy movement in Burma. And that fills me with a sense of humanity and gratitude, as is always the case when I am chosen to be the recipient of honours that are awarded to those who have rendered outstanding service to the Page 3 of 5   

cause of human dignity the world over. In my own country there are large numbers of men and women who do not enjoy the protection of international recognition, daily risking their well-being, their liberty and even their lives, for the sake of principles and rights that will guarantee our people a secure and dignified existence. I am thankful for the opportunity to draw attention to the struggles of these brave men and women and to accept, in all humanity, the Nehru Memorial Prize for International Understanding in their name. It is as much the desire to pay tribute to those who have sacrifice so much in pursuit of a free and democratic Burma, as to re-establish and straighten my ties with India that I so much circumstances could have allowed to me to receive this honor in thin person today. However, as that could not be, I have chosen as my worthy representative a much loved family friend and "honorary" aunt, the first Burmese to become a member of the United Nations Secretariat, she has been an ardent advocate and a practitioner of international understanding. I know that she will accept the prize on my behalf with all the grace and dignity the occasion merits. Pandit Nehru's contributions to international understanding go beyond the part he played on the world stage during his lifetime to narrow the gap between diverse culture and differing ideologies. His spirit contribute to reach out to people struggling to establish universal human values in a world increasingly preoccupied with material power. During my years of detention the words and works of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru were a constant source of inspiration and support. I count these two great Indians among my most revered guides, mentors and friends. Throughout the six years that U was cut off from the world outside I had hanging in the front hall of my house a scroll on which I had copied extracts from Panditji's immortal words, to be found in his autobiography, made such a profound impression on me I would like to quote the passage in its entirety: Law and order, we are told, are among the proud achievements of British rule in India. My own instincts are entirely in favour of them. I like discipline in life, and dislike anarchy and disorder and inefficiency. But bitter experience has made me doubt the value of the law and order are the states and governments impose on people. Sometimes price on pay for them is excessive, and the law is but the will of the dominant faction and the order is the reflex of an all-pervading fear. Sometimes, indeed, the so-called law and order might be more justly called the absence of law and order. Any achievement that is based on widespread fear can hardly be a desirable one, and an 'order' that has for its basis the coercive apparatus of the State, and cannot exist without it, is more like military occupation than civil rule. I find in the Rajatarangini, the thousand-year-old Kasmiri historic epic of the poet Kalhana, that the phrase which is repeatedly used in the sense of law and order, sometime that it was the duty of the ruler and the state to preserve, is dharma and abhaya - righteousness and absence of fear. Law was something more than mere law, and order was the fearlessness of the people. How much more desirable is this idea of inculcating fearlessness than of enforcing 'order' on a frightened populace! The sentiments expressed by Pandit Nehru in the above passage are exactly my own. Often I have felt that we shared much in common and regretted not having taken the opportunity to get to know him better during the years I was in India with my mother. At that time I look upon him simply as a friend of my parents and never imagined I would one day come to look upon him as my own friend. Pandit Nehru often broke through the barriers of race and generation by his warm humanity. On his way to London for talks on independence for Burma my father made a stop in Delhi to have talks with Pandit Nehru and other Indian leaders. Panditji immediately showed a fatherly concern for my father, twenty-six his junior. He cast a critical but kindly eye over the younger man's shabby, thin cotton uniform and decided it would not do. He arranged for several smart, warm woolen uniforms to be run up hastily by his tailors. Hearing that England was suffering from one of the coldest winters in living memory Panditji also Page 4 of 5   

commandeered a greatcoat: a well known photograph of my father shows hi looking somewhat swamped in this greatcoat which is rather too large for him. When my mother was appointed Burmese ambassador to Indian in 1960 Pandit Nehru cast over her the warm protection of his friendship, also making a point of singling her out at public occasions to enquire after her well-being. It was with such gestures of human warmth that Pandit Nehru won the hearts of peoples of all races and creeds. And his intellect and integrity won him the respect even of those who did not share his commitment to democracy and internationalism. For us who believe that a democratic political system offers the best solutions to the myriad problems that beset our imperfect world, the achievements of Pandit Nehru and India provide strong encouragement. This sub-continent of many races, languages and creeds; this nation that stepped forward proudly to keep its tryst with destiny only months after its fabric had been rent by horrifying communal strife; extremism and violence; this, the largest democracy in the world, is proof supreme that there is no problem beyond the control of a system that respects the inherent dignity of man and honors him as a being fit for freedom and self-rule. It is the heartfelt hope of the vast majority of the people of Burma that our country too, on a day not too far away, will become a democratic nation guided by the will of the people and ruled by dhama and abhaya. India and Burma share more than common frontier. Buddhism which is the backbone of Burmese culture sprang from Indian soil. The tolerance, loving kindness, compassion and self-control that Buddhism teaches are qualities that are in valuable in a world made smaller but more complex and potentially very dangerous by the immense technological advances of our age. More than ever there is a need to recognize that all peoples are bound by a common humanity, to cultivate those traits that help us to understand one another better. More than ever there is a need for magnificent like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru who could reach out to win alien hearts with their breadth of vision. India today continues in the tradition of its great leaders. It is indeed an honour to have been chosen to receive a prize for International Understanding from this nation that is so close to my heart. Mr. President and members of the Nehru Award Committee, may I thank you for the honour you have done my country, my people and myself. Thank you

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