Suu Kyi marks 4,000 days as a prisoner

Another milestone in the long misery of the Burmese people passed yesterday, when the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi marked her 4,000th day under house arrest.

We have no idea how she passed the day. Did she coax some notes out of the ancient piano in the family villa on Rangoon's Inya Lake, where she was first confined way back in 1988? Did she meditate or practise yoga, two of the disciplines which we know have helped her to maintain her health? There is no way of knowing because, apart from a maid, Suu Kyi is entirely alone.

Perhaps she went out into the garden - it's hot and sticky in Rangoon this week, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 84F and scattered thunderstorms forecast - and took a scythe to the encroaching vegetation. About the only thing we have learned since the last milestone, her 61st birthday in June, is that she is no longer allowed help to keep the garden in shape. In the tropics, that's a serious problem. Suu Kyi's supporters fear there could be venomous snakes out there.

The 4,000th-day milestone, like all other news pertaining to Suu Kyi, found no mention in the official news media of Myanmar, as the junta refers to the country. It is said that the regime's strongman, Than Shwe, refuses to allow her name even to be mentioned in his presence.

This week the regime has been allowing foreign journalists into the country, which is unusual. The reason is that it wants to show the outside world that the country is proceeding down the so-called "road map to democracy" which it announced 13 years ago.

To try to quell the voices demanding that it hands over power to Suu Kyi and her party, in 1993 the regime with much fanfare set up a National Convention to begin considering a new constitution. One thousand delegates are arriving in Rangoon from around the country, the official media reported, to participate in the first meeting of the Convention for eight months, which begins today.

Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in elections held in 1990, a victory the regime refused to recognise. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, the hero of Burma's independence movement, had already been put under house arrest before the election was held.

Speaking to the press in Rangoon yesterday, the Information Minister, Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, conceded that the NLD had won a majority of seats in 1990, but said the voters did not know what they were doing. Those who voted for it, he said, "did not scrutinise its politics or capabilities and the background history of its candidates". Accusing the party of refusing to compromise with the military, he added: "Now, there is no reason to meet or discuss again with the NLD."

The NLD walked out of the Convention in 1995, complaining that it was rigged. In 1996 it was adjourned and did not meet for the next eight years. The Information Minister said: "Those who attempt to undermine the National Convention will be crushed with the people's strength."

The constitutional meeting comes less than a fortnight after the UN Security Council formally discussed Burma for the first time. The United States, strongly supported by Britain, has been arguing strenuously that the Security Council should act on Burma because, with the unending repression of ethnic minorities on its borders and with the huge drugs trade it fosters, it is a "threat to international peace and security".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy