Burmese Opposition Leader Suu Kyi 'Anyone Can Be Arrested at Any Time'

Following her release from house arrest, Burmese Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi offers harsh words for the current state of her country in a SPIEGEL interview. "As long as there is no law in Burma, anyone can be arrested at any time," she says.

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to a crowd on Nov. 17 after her release from house arrest.

Burma pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to a crowd on Nov. 17 after her release from house arrest.

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a fundamental transformation in her country. Only a few days after her release from a house arrest, she discussed the problems in Burma in an interview with SPIEGEL. "The economy is devastated, ethnic tensions are increasing, there are political prisoners and too many refugees who are leaving the country," she said.

The problems, the Burmese opposition politician said, need to be addressed using "peaceful means."

"As long as there is no law in Burma," Suu Kyi said, "anyone can be arrested at any time." She also defended the decision by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) not to participate in parliamentary elections on Nov. 7 despite the fact that other opposition parties did. In any case, the NLD had been banned from taking part, anyway. "There were people who believed in this election, but they lost in the end," she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi conceded that she was quite exhausted following her long house arrest. For years, she said, she had no access to the Internet or to a mobile phone or satellite. Her most important link to the outside world was the radio. She said she listened to the radio for five or six hours a day to find out what was happening in the world.

Suu Kyi has spent almost 15 of the past 21 years in isolation. The opposition politician has been fighting for democracy in her country since 1988. She has accused the military junta of destabilizing Burma, and Suu Kyi said her house arrests were often extended on a specious basis.

The release of the popular politician last Saturday night was registered with relief around the world. "She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world," US President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Suu Kyi won the last previous election held in Burma in 1990, but the generals in the military junta refused to accept the results. Last weekend, the junta allowed the first election in two decades. And each day since then, the junta's own party, the USDP, has announced the win of additional seats and claims to have received 80 percent of all votes. The vote, however, was highly controversial internationally.

SPIEGEL International will publish the interview with Suu Kyi in full on Monday.

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