Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Suu Kyi calls on India to ‘Stand by Burma’

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 23:43 Mizzima News

Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the unease that has prevailed during her trip to India about the country’s support for the Burmese military junta during her period of house arrest, but reserved most of her 35-minute speech in Delhi for praising Indian leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.

“The two words I have heard most often [since I arrived in India two days ago] have been ‘expectations’ and ‘disappointment,’” Suu Kyi said.

“I was saddened to feel that we had drawn away from India, or rather that India had drawn away from us during our very difficult days. But I always had faith in the lasting friendship between our two countries based on lasting friendship between our two peoples,” she said.

“This is what I would wish to emphasize again and again—that friendship between countries should be based on friendship between peoples, and not between governments. Governments come and go, and that’s what democracy is all about.”

Suu Kyi concluded by saying that her country has not yet achieved the goal of democracy, and that she hoped India would stand by Burma as it walks that path.

The Burmese pro-democracy leader made the remarks in Delhi on Wednesday night as she delivered this year’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture to an audience which included some 200 Burmese refugees living in India alongside Burmese embassy officials, as well as high-ranking Indian dignitaries, including Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, and his mother, Sonia Gandhi.

Introducing Suu Kyi to the podium, Sonia Gandhi said she could think of no one better qualified to deliver this year’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture, and praised Suu Kyi’s “fearlessness, integrity, moral and intellectual courage, perseverance, freedom from anger and bitterness, and unqualified devotion to the betterment of the life of her people.”

Suu Kyi had been awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru prize in 1995 while she was under house arrest, and this was her first trip back to the country where she spent four years as a teenager since she entered politics.

She spoke of her fondness for Nehru whom she knew as a child and who was a friend to her parents. She told how he procured a uniform for her father, Aung San, to wear on his historic trip to London in 1947 to negotiate for Burma’s independence.

The Lady spoke of Burma’s independence struggle, the death of her father, her life in Oxford, and the ultimate return to her homeland.

She frequently referred to Nehru, his life and his leadership skills, and drew upon events that juxtaposed her own family’s history with that of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

She also spoke of Gandhi’s influence and her respect for his campaign of non-violent civil disobedience. She alluded regularly to India’s struggle alongside Burma’s against colonial rule.

Speaking of the period after she had been released from house arrest, Suu Kyi said that the lesson she really learned “was not to deceive myself or others with the claim that we are making self-sacrifices when we follow our conscience. We are simply making a choice, and possibly an egoistic one at that,” she said.

“When we give up what is near to our hearts, is it not sometimes to make ourselves less vulnerable? The ones who made the real sacrifices are those who let us go free.”

2 Responses so far.

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