Suu Kyi is a modern Moses
By ferreting them out from its territory, the junta has won the confidence of India’s security establishment.
Even so, it was a bit shocking when India sent a high-level delegation to attend the funeral of one of the leaders of the junta. What was particularly galling about the gesture was that it coincided with the failed "saffron revolution" when thousands of Buddhist monks came out on the streets to protest against the brutal regime.
"The way Than Shwe dealt with the agitation provides an insight into his psyche. He allowed the agitation to gather momentum in the hope that it would eventually peter out but when he found that it could even destabilise his regime, he used force to disperse the monks. Who knows, he may do that to Aung San Suu Kyi too", said Rogers.
In India, people in general and political parties in particular do not question the government’s foreign policies. That does not mean that India’s Myanmar policy has the support of the people. A few months ago, while delivering a lecture on literacy at Vigyan Bhavan, Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen bluntly told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who presided over the function, that he did not approve of the policy.
Amartya Sen in his book "The Idea of Justice" brackets Aung San Suu Kyi with "visionary and political leaders across the world" such as Sun Yat-sen of China, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Martin Luther King, of the US."
Yet, for strategic reasons, India has been trying to please the Myanmarese regime, though it did not pay dividends when it competed with China for rights to tap the natural gas reserves there.
It was this willingness to collaborate with the junta that forced US President Barack Obama to flay India’s policy vis-à-vis Myanmar while addressing the members of Indian Parliament during his recent visit to the country. Though its righteous indignation is questionable given the super power’s track record in Iraq, India’s Myanmar policy can only be explained in terms of vested security interests.
Aung San Suu Kyi has both charisma and ability to catch the imagination of the Burmese people. That she is a doughty fighter is borne out by the fact that she never accepted any conditions attached to her release. The junta had released her twice before, in 1995 and 2002, calculating that her extended absence from public view had weakened her appeal. Each time, they were proved wrong.
Huge, enthusiastic crowds greeted her wherever she went, particularly in 2002. The junta is confident that the planned transition to a "civilian rule" will be at the cost of the democracy movement she represents. What is overlooked is that the recent elections were neither fair nor free and failed to meet internationally accepted standards associated with legitimate elections.
How could a Constitution drafted with the express purpose of keeping the military perpetually in power – reserving 25 per cent seats for the armed forces in the nation’s legislature, for instance – be considered democratic? Is it any surprise that the parties the junta promoted won the election when army men had to vote in the presence of their commanders and the villagers had to show the ballot papers to the local rulers before they were dropped in the ballot boxes?
Aung San Suu Kyi’s release is a watershed in Myanmar’s history.