SPIEGEL Interview with Aung San Suu Kyi 'We Have to Tackle This -- With Peaceful Means'

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi: "What I have experienced is nothing compared to what political prisoners in prisons suffer."
Panos Pictures / Adam Dean

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi: "What I have experienced is nothing compared to what political prisoners in prisons suffer."

Part 2: 'It Is Essential that People See What Is Happening in this Country'

SPIEGEL: On Nov. 7, parliamentary elections were held in Burma, which the military junta maintains it won by a landslide. Hardly anyone in the world believed that these elections were free and fair. The opposition was divided over whether or not it should participate or boycott them.

Suu Kyi: We have boycotted these elections and we are standing by this position.

SPIEGEL: A number of members of the opposition, including former members of your National League for Democracy, have established a new party and taken part in the elections. By contrast, the NLD is banned. The official reason given at the time was not taking part in elections. Has this weakened the movement?

Suu Kyi: There were people who believed in these elections, and they ended up losing them. We, on the other hand, have never believed in these elections, and we don't believe in them now, either. This of course doesn't mean that we cannot work together with other groups and individuals in order to advance the democratic process.

SPIEGEL: How do you propose to shape relations to influential countries like China and India, which are relatively close to the regime and do business with it? Neither country has criticized the elections.

Suu Kyi: It is important that we maintain good relations with these neighboring countries. But it would be better if India and China would support us rather than this government. We can work on this.

SPIEGEL: In the West there have been heated debates for years over whether sanctions against the military regime in Burma would be constructive or not.

Suu Kyi: This issue needs to be constantly re-examined. We are currently doing this. I don't have a final opinion on this.

SPIEGEL: In the past, you asked Western tourists not to travel to Burma because this would only support the regime. Do you still stand by this statement?

Suu Kyi: I was informed that the European Union has debated this issue. It has spoken out against group tours where Burmese government facilities are used. It endorses individual trips, however, which could benefit private companies. I haven't had an opportunity to speak with the European Union about this. But it is essential that people see what is actually happening in this country.

SPIEGEL: Will you continue your political struggle?

Suu Kyi: Of course. We have established political goals and we intend to achieve them.

Interview conducted by Thilo Thielke in Rangun, Burma


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