Those of you who know me know how much I admire Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Those of you who know Burma know how much the people idealize Daw Suu Kyi. She is a powerful force here.
I have long worried that Daw Suu Kyi is so idealized in Burma. I am glad that the people have a spiritual leader. But whenever you put all your faith in one person, you are bound to feel let down at some point. And I think the people, at least the ones who read the news, are feeling that now.
There’s been great dispute in central Burma over a mine (jointly owned by the military and a Chinese corporation, as far as I can tell) that will displace hundreds of ethnically Burmese people. Several monks were burned with military grade smoke grenades in a peaceful protest last fall. The president strategically appointed Suu Kyi to oversee the investigation. More recently she has spoken in support of the mine. No one has been held accountable for the injuries last fall, and Suu Kyi has recommended that the mine continue, but with better compensation to the displaced people. People are very upset.
This week Suu Kyi attended a parade to celebrate Armed Forces Day in Burma (the linked BBC video asserts that the military has retreated since peace talks, which is not the case. Fighting continues in Kachin State and troops are consistently being moved into Karen State, with strong military presence in Shan and other states.). She feels that working with the military is important for the future of Burma. Two years ago it would have been unheard of for Daw Suu Kyi, Mother of Burma, to be the VIP at a military event.
I understand the disappointment, near betrayal, that the people are feeling. But it seems to me that Daw Suu Kyi is in a nearly impossible situation, trying to balance her responsibility and power, trying to find the greater good. I hope she finds it.
The future and hope of Burma is not in one woman, but in the courage and love with which each person in Burma chooses to live their lives.