Peter Popham: Suu Kyi's fate is inextricably linked with Burma's future

Analysis

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday, nothing happened in Burma. Again.

Two thousand two hundred political prisoners continued to languish in its squalid jails. Thousands of exiles scattered from Thailand to Perth to Oslo continued to make ends meet as best they could. And a petite woman on the edge of old age continued to measure her life by the few square yards of the Rangoon home where her political party was born 21 years ago.

Suu Kyi's sentence of detention for the crime of allowing an American fool (or was he a secret agent?) to stay in her house after swimming across Inya Lake is due to expire today. Yet no one can be sure if they will honour it.

Then came the first firm news: Special Branch had brought the release warrant to her house, "100 per cent affirmative", according to sources, and all she had to do was sign the paperwork. The Suu Kyi buzz, the excitement this former Oxford housewife and part-time MA student provokes every time she lifts a finger, was at work again.

In the airport of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, a fresh-faced former Rangoon University professor huddled with NLD colleagues to discuss their moves when she is freed. Nyo Ohn Myint was among the first to urge Suu Kyi to claim the leadership of Burma's chaotic democracy movement in 1988.

An exile for 20 years, today he lives in Chiang Mai and is head of the party's foreign affairs committee. If Suu Kyi is freed he must be ready with answers about what she plans to do with her freedom: the years of futile inactivity will be replaced by frenetic work, endless interviews. He has been preparing for that, making plans via her lawyers. But until she is freed again they mean nothing.

How can the liberation of one woman mean so much, when the situation in Burma is so bleak? "She's not just the secretary-general of our party," Nyo Ohn Myint said. "She's on a different level: all the opposition leaders follow her, the students, the expatriate groups, the parties that split off from the NLD to fight the election; the head of the National Democratic Force said he will happily dissolve his party if Suu Kyi asks him to.

"She is the key chain: all the parties, all the keys, fit on to it. She's going to be the political centre, the focus, and this will give her the leverage to get dialogue with the regime started again." But first the key must turn in her lock.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice