Dr Muang Zarni: Here's how this court ordeal can be turned to her advantage

Share
Related Topics

Aung San Suu Kyi is already presumed guilty in the eyes of her captors. Her Kafkaesque trial offers her one opportunity however: a rare media platform to present her side of the story.

Instead of focusing on the legal defence, her lawyers should help her to transform this farcical trial into a semi-public venue wherein she articulates her democratic vision for the Burmese people; to reconnect with her political base and convey a strategic message to the international community.

Burma today is not under the rule of law, but rather under the maniacal dictatorship of Senior General Than Shwe. He alone makes all crucial executive and judicial decisions in a manner that befits an 18th-century monarch informed only by astrology, sycophantic advisers and Machiavellian calculations.

Than Shwe is also known for his extreme hatred of Aung San Suu Kyi, the most formidable of all Burmese dissidents, who remains unbroken in spirit, despite her poor health. Even before the news of "the American intruder", no one really entertained any illusion about her release from house arrest. With her unfading prestige, popularity and international appeal, Aung San Suu Kyi poses the single most symbolic – if not material – threat to Than Shwe's personal delusion of grandeur.

The junta is apparently treating the American intruder incident as a "godsend" for propaganda purposes, proof that the leadership is acting in accordance with the law. However, the regime's decision to try the Burmese icon on the most fictitious charges is outright stupid, irresponsible, and counterproductive.

It conveniently overlooks the fact that it was the military government itself which failed to provide its most famous captive full security in her home, a virtual prison for 13 of the past 19 years.

The Obama administration meanwhile, was reportedly looking for a way to re-engage with the military and perhaps even recognise the generals as legitimate stakeholders in Burmese national politics. Instead, news of the junta trying Aung San Suu Kyi on trumped-up charges has recaptured the world's imagination, highlighted the heinous character of the Burmese regime, and re-united the fractured Burmese opposition. Her military captors have unwittingly helped build her political capital as a powerful moral and political icon.

Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues must seize this trial as a rare opportunity to revive a popular message of hope, addressing not just democracy and human rights, but also the survival concerns of ordinary Burmese. They should suggest ways for the international community to engage with Burmese people and civil society, if not the Neanderthal regime.



The author is a research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the founder of the Free Burma Coalition

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum