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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Burma: The Lady Testifies

May 30, 2009

Agam's Gecko Blog
May 27, 2009

Yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi was permitted to
testify in her own defence for the first time
since her trial opened ten days ago. On May 15
she was taken from her home where she had been
confined for the past six years (following the
Burmese junta's last attempt on her life in May
2003 in a mob attack on her convoy). She was
delivered to Insein Prison, charged with meeting
an illegal intruder on her property, and has
since been held at a special quarters within the
prison. The trial began the following Monday, May
18 in a specially-built courtroom also within the prison.

Today her term of home detention expires. In
truth it expired on May 27 last year, but at that
time the junta illegally extended it for a year
longer than is permitted by their own laws. The
military rulers must have now run out of excuses
(they always like some sort of quasi-legal cover
for their lawlessness), and couldn't reuse
whichever fig-leaf they hid behind last time. The
Lady's house arrest is really over.

One of her lawyers, Nyan Win, told Mizzima that
Police Brigadier General Myo Thein, along with
Burma’s Police Chief Khin Yi, on Tuesday morning
read out an order removing restrictions imposed
on Aung San Suu Kyi under her former sentence of house arrest.

It would be nice to believe the junta is
beginning to grow up at last, but I don't think
so. Even the claim that they were considering her
release earlier this month, but were so rudely
interrupted by the loon who swam into her
compound, is disingenuous. This announcement
points to only one thing, which many
Burma-watchers have already taken for granted:
the verdict is guilty (and has probably already been delivered to the judge).

Than Shwe has more than likely been making extra
offerings to whichever spirits he was appeasing
in early May. The American intruder, John Yettaw,
was a godsend for the ageing and increasingly
demented dictator, who is most well known for his
extreme superstitions. There is no plausible
scenario which could have led to a brand new term
of detention or imprisonment for Suu Kyi, given
that she was absolutely isolated from outside
contact, except this one. There was no
possibility for her to break the conditions of
her detention. An intruder was required.

There is no evidence that Yettaw was encouraged
to pull his stupid stunt by any of the plentiful
undercover state intelligence agents working in
Rangoon, many of whom can probably be extremely
personable and earnest fellows wishing to
practice their English. The fact that he pulled
the same stunt in November last year (on that
occasion she had no contact with him, thanks to
her living companions); the fact that he then
successfully swam the lake for his escape; and
the fact that his intrusion was reported by Suu
Kyi to the authorities who then took no action to
beef up their security around her home — none of
these facts should make anyone suspicious. Of course not.

As she testified yesterday and today, the
intrusion was caused by poor government security,
for which she had no responsibility.

"Even though the main cause of the situation that
has happened is a lack of, or a breach of
security [at my house], no action was taken on
those responsible for the security," Suu Kyi told the court.

"But only I am under prosecution and such an act is unjust."

Burma's soldier-government is not known for its
understanding of logic. She was a prisoner, her
home was her prison. Prisoners have guards to
keep them from getting away. If some kook breaks
into the prison, whom shall we blame? The
prisoner sitting in her cell? How about the sleeping guards outside?

She may have played into the junta's hand by not
immediately reporting the intruder, but I wonder
how she might have done that. When she wished to
tell something to the authorities, the only way
was to pass the message through her personal
doctor, who came on regular visits. She is
allowed no phone, and can't even send mail. But
the doctor had already been (conveniently?)
arrested by the police. I'm not making
accusations, just rolling my eyes a bit over here.

A nice anecdote from yesterday's "court" session,
at which some diplomats and journalists were
permitted, is offered by the account in Mizzima
News. Usually one should stand as a sign of respect for the judge...

Diplomats and other invited guests stood up as a
sign of respect as she entered the courtroom,
prompting security personnel to remind them to sit down.

The Irrawaddy has a fuller account of yesterday's
testimony by Suu Kyi here, and today's testimony here.

If there can be said to be one thing that is
exemplified by The Lady (Burmese for years have
referred to her this way, or simply as "Aunty"
due to the risks in actually saying her name out
loud in public), that one thing is Freedom From
Fear. From her book of the same name:

"It is not power that corrupts, but fear.

Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it
and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."

Via The Interdependent I learn of a new
documentary film about The Lady and her country.
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