Aung San Suu Kyi on Burma’s Sweeping Reforms and Whether She Will Ever Be Its President

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
Jan. 20 2012 8:20 PM

An Interview With Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma’s Nobel laureate muses on the sweeping reforms in her country and whether she will be its president.

(Continued from Page 1)

Your father had a relationship with the ethnic groups. Do you?

Yes, I have good relations with them.

Do you feel you could play a role in bringing about peace and reconciliation between the ethnic groups and the government?

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I could play a role only if both sides are willing to have me play a role. I can’t just go in because one side has asked me to take part. The ethnics have indicated they want me to be part of it.

I asked the president if he would consider giving you a cabinet post. He said it was up to parliament.

Quite right. Even if we win all the seats we are contesting, that will be only 48 out of 600 seats. The reason we want to get into parliament is not because we expect to do all our work in parliament. We want to extend our activities into the parliament.

Going back to the U.S. demands—what other conditions must be met?

There should be an end to all hostilities in the ethnic areas. There has been a ceasefire with the KMU but not yet with the KIA [Karin Independence Army]. That is a big problem for the country and a big problem with regard to sanctions.

Senior U.S. officials look to you for guidance in regard to lifting the sanctions.

What they have in me is someone to give an honest assessment of the situation. The situation in the Kachin is a major problem because it is not just the Kachin. If we are to have a genuinely peaceful nation, we will have to resolve these problems politically, not militarily.

The government reportedly has been brutal in the ethnic areas.

Yes, there have been human rights violations and that’s why it’s necessary to allow third-party access to those areas to find out what’s really happening.

What about Myanmar’s relationship with North Korea?

I don’t know any more about it than you do. 

Senator Lugar said a few days ago that Myanmar is developing a nuclear weapon with the help of North Korea.

I don’t know that they are developing a nuclear weapon. They certainly have re-established diplomatic relations with North Korea. That cannot be denied.

Is it true they picked Nay Pyi Taw as the new capital because of an astrologer?

I understand that the previous government was guided by astrologers.