Is this what they call momentum? by Anya Palm

18. Nov 2010

The Lady is free. She speaks to her people and what comes out of her mouth is the definition of grace and dignity – listen to some of her words here:

Should anyone ever have doubted why Ang San Suu Kyi is the iconic symbol of hope in Burma, she put that to rest when she spoke to the thousands of followers, who had been awaiting her release outside her house this weekend. Having been placed under house arrest for almost 20 years, her first speech was in the “I have a Dream”-league and her ability to chose her words and focus on the Burmese people rather than the injustices she has endured herself raises hope for the future. She is not a martyr and she does not wish to be.   

Her case, however, is so symbolic and so political it is difficult not to dwell on it. The main unanswered question concerning her release is obvious: Why?

When asked by a BBC-reporter ” Do you think there is a reason that the ruling generals have allowed you out now?”  she herself replied: “I don’t think so…do you think there is a reason?”.

And this is very important. Because, the reporter – and many others with him – think there is a reason she was freed just days after the much criticized election. Very rarely do things like this happen in Burma without there being some sort of agenda behind it.

But Burma’s generals are not generous with information and so, we as the onlookers are left to ponder and guess about their motives. And we do, what else can we do? Within the answer to the Why Now-question lays an explanation to something, we really want to know: What is it that Burma’s generals want for their country? Her release is part of that answer, and it affects all of us.

But  Ang San Suu Kyi did something very clever in her speech. While all of us were trying to figure the above out, she made a less controversial, but way more valid point: She wants to know what the Burmese people expect of her.

And by doing so, she reversed the question from “what is on the junta’s mind by releasing her, where are they going with this?” to “what are the Burmese people’s wish for the country now and how can she help?”

So what if the elusive Tan Schwe and his generals are not an easy bunch to deal with? If they refuse, forbid and punish as they please? We can condemn that all we want – but we can also listen to The Lady and put our focus on the democratic powers that lay within the people instead of fuming.

What really matters now is to create a situation where it does not capsize the democratic process if she were to be arrested again.

What really matters now is to hold on to the momentum her release and the election combined have given to Burma and her way towards democracy.

What really matters now is getting Ang San Suu Kyi down from the pedestal she is on and into the role of an opposition politician, just like all the other brave and fearless Burmese democrats working for the same cause as her. She just told us that’s what she wants. We should listen.