aung san suu kyi and the tragedy of burma

Aung San Suu Kyi and the Tragedy of Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi

By Frankie Rufolo, Member & For Britain Candidate

Guest Blogs and Opinion Pieces may not always reflect the views of the For Britain Party.

This Christmas Eve should have been a joyous and peaceful time for us all, but on the other side of the world, yuletide was a bloodbath. It’s now been a year since the Myanmar military coup and the regime is already crushing and killing dissent as the world looks the other way.

In amongst all the classic Christmas telly, mainstream news programs were rather short, focusing on a very moving and personal speech by our Queen, followed by the usual reports on coronavirus, vaccines and the looming threat of yet more restrictions creating yet more uncertainty for the hospitality industry that desperately needs a good New Year’s Eve. There’s simply no excuse for the mainstream media’s lack of coverage when more than thirty people, including children, have been murdered by their own government, Myanmar’s military regime. Photos of smouldering vehicles in Burma’s Kayah State circulated on social media after the junta burned their bodies in trucks after reports of soldiers skirmishing with ethnic minority guerrilla forces.

Back in February 2021, the Southeast Asian country Burma was once again taken over completely by its corrupt and power-hungry generals, disappearing their hugely popular elected Prime Minister: Aung San Suu Kyi. Many British people will have heard the lady’s name but do not know the whole story. Suu’s father, Aung San, was a hero of Burmese independence. During World War Two, he sided with Japanese fascism to fight the British Empire, before changing sides and joining the UK to help defeat Hitler’s allies in return for self-government. He led his party, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, to victory in Burma’s first general election but he and most of his cabinet were assassinated just before the country became independent and the . Aung San Suu Kyi studied at Oxford University before marrying an English historian and becoming an academic herself. A friend of this country, she’s nicknamed “the Oxford Housewife.” Her return to Burma in 1988 to tend to her ill mother coincided with the 8888 Uprising: on August the 8th of that year, Burmese students took to the streets demanding democracy after the military dictator General Ne Win stepped down, ending a reign of isolation and poverty brought about by his Soviet-style militant and socialist policies. They were joined by hundreds of thousands of Buddhist monks and common people, including religious and ethnic minorities. When the military took back power, the protests were violently broken up and troops were ordered to open fire, killing around 3,000 people. This was what inspired Aung San Suu Kyi to go into politics and campaign for freedom, founding her party, the National League for Democracy in September 1988. Months later, she was placed under house arrest, offered freedom only if she were to leave the country. When her husband was dying of cancer, she felt unable to go to Britain to visit him. After being temporarily released, she had to watch from her car as more than seventy of her party colleagues killed by a government sponsored mob at the Depayin massacre in 2003. It was this military regime that renamed the country Myanmar, claiming to be “decolonising.” However, Burma came from the name of the old kingdom Bama.

I can’t tell the full story in one article and although there is no doubt that Aung San Suu Kyi has fought long and hard for democracy and human rights. Even after she was eventually released due to international pressure and became Prime Minister, politicians who spoke out against the military too much were assassinated. The coup last year only made it clear to the rest of Burma and the world that the junta were still firmly in charge.

The military tried to justify their takeover, claiming the Prime Minister had been involved in a scandal involving illegal walkie-talkies. Of course, the international community scoffed at such trivial nonsense and young Burmese people still rose up in support of their beloved Mother Suu, only to be shot at by the soldiers. Now the junta have changed their narrative, sentencing Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in a military prison for breaking coronavirus restrictions. Whilst politicians like Boris Johnson, who flagrantly break their own lockdown rules, should be roundly condemned, it’s clear in this case that the pandemic has been used as a perfect excuse for tyranny.

Burma is not the only country where this has happened: after President Trump and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in made historic progress with North Korea, the dictator Kim Jong Un used coronavirus to keep his communist giant prison isolated from the rest of the world and to keep the North Korean people controlled. In Venezuela, the hardliner socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro has continued to suppress dissidents which now include healthcare workers. And who could forget the Chinese Communist Party silencing the doctors and scientists who first blew the whistle on COVID-19, allowing the virus to get out of control? More recently, the authorities in China been sealing their people in their own homes to quarantine them, many people starving after missing out on food deliveries.

Many British people will want to stand up for the people of Burma and their Prime Minister who has a connection to our country, but China presents a huge obstacle in the way of freedom and justice for the Burmese. The CCP supports the military coup and China’s power within the corrupt United Nations would most likely prevent any sanctions and President Xi Jinping may just ignore such measures anyway. Of course, that doesn’t mean the free world shouldn’t even try: it would at least give hope to the pro-democracy protesters in Burma. The UK could perhaps negotiate with Burma’s bordering countries such as Thailand and Bangladesh to try and stop Chinese arms getting to the military regime, but the British government is unlikely to do so. It is a well-known fact that Boris Johnson’s chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is married to the daughter of a billionaire. What many people don’t know is that Sunak’s father in-law’s tech company is still providing IT services to the junta in Burma. With this clear corporate conflict of interest, can we seriously expect this corrupt Conservative government to do what is right?

The tragedy of Burma shows the terrifying power of lockdowns and China. British people who love freedom should not only be supporting Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy, and the anti-coup protesters, but should take this coup as a warning.

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