Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip yesterday to Pegu, 50 miles outside of Rangoon, only lasted a day, but it was a significant step in Burma’s “political chess match.” The National League for Democracy declared it was the first political trip outside of Rangoon since Daw Suu’s release. The day was packed with visits to a monastery, opening of two NLD public libraries, helping recent flood victims, and giving public speeches. Thousands of people came from all over to see Daw Suu. In some places where she visited, people clasped hands and created a protective area for her to walk. They overwhelmingly showed their support for her, and she responded by showing her concern for their needs.
She also implored people to take up the cause themselves, “Participating in politics should be aimed at fulfilling people’s hope,” she said. “Therefore, participating in politics includes work and duty. People also have a duty. To get a system they want, people need to be responsible. If you don’t shoulder responsibility, you cannot say that you didn’t get the system you want. So, I would like to urge you to try to make things happen the way you want.”
The trip went well, with no interference from the authorities, but even with that Daw Suu has been hesitant to say that this is a sign of political relations thawing in the country. The regime is known to use smoke and mirror tactics before big international meetings like the upcoming UN General Assembly. They do not want the world looking at the ongoing human rights abuses and conflict happening in eastern and northern Burma. Therefore, it is too early to say whether or not the regime is committed or not to working together for change. In Daw Suu’s speech to Congress she pointed to the declaration of the UN Human Rights Council as the path Burma must take. This includes demands that have been echoed by global leaders and Burmese communities time and time again:
1) An end to systematic human rights abuses and an end to conflict
2) Inclusive political dialogue towards national reconciliation that includes ethnic groups, democratic political parties, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
3) The immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma.
See an extensive report on Daw Suu’s trip to Pegu at Mizzima’s website
Check out Wall Street Journal’s interactive graphic of Daw Suu’s fight for democracy
Here is a video from Reuters: