Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi goes on trial in Burma ... again.

Aung San Suu Kyi will be brought to trial, yet again, on Monday 18 May in Burma.

She has been under 'house arrest' as a political prisoner for many years now. The Burmese people revere her as a great political leader - her father brought democracy to the country - and as a true practitioner of the Buddhist path. During the recent demonstrations, which were led by Buddhist monks, events reached their most tense when the monks processed through the capital to the security fence which surrounds the residence/prison of Aung San Suu Kyi. To the amazement of everyone, including the world's press, she came to the perimeter of her garden whereupon the monks sang spiritual songs and chanted prayers of encouragement to her.

Every five years or so the military junta, which now rules Burma [Myanmar] with an iron fist, has to invent yet another reason to keep Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest lest she go free and assume her rightful place as the beleaguered country's political leader.

This time the excuse was provided for them by John Yettaw, an American self-proclaimed activist, who swam across the lake which leads to her garden and was allowed by the soldiers to gain access to the well-guarded house.

Nobody really knows why Mr Yettaw did this. In fact, it is the second time he has done so in recent years. He is reported to be a Vietnam veteran who has personal difficulties with his mental health fuelled by alcohol. Other sources say this is not true and describe him as a very spiritual man who is driven to bring attention to the case of Aung San Suu Kyi. Either way, it remains a mystery why he has been repeatedly allowed by the military to do this. The end result is that he is not punished while Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to a nearby prison to await the next trial.

Her advisors and supporters have been deeply critical of Yettaw's misguided behaviour, even calling him a 'fool'. They say he has done nothing but harm. Meanwhile the lakeside family home of Aung San Suu Kyi, under ordinary circumstances a quasi-fortress, lies empty and forlorn.

Myanmar's military generals seem determined to do everything in their power to keep Aung San Suu Kyi from her political destiny as the people's chosen leader. The world looks on as ever, hopeful that things will turn out OK somehow but reluctant to force any change whatsoever. Of course there are some very high-profile critics of the junta. But two major factors appear stronger than world opinion about justice and freedom in Burma. The military enjoy the support of China, and there is no oil. So ... nobody really lifts a finger to help.

Of course, there is a multitude of places you can keep up to date about the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Myanmar, including this site.
But, for now, just spare a moment to remember a kind and gentle person who, against all odds, continues to lead and inspire others along the path to peace and ultimate liberation.

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