By Zin Linn
Bangkok, Thailand — Burma’s repugnant military junta defended its prosecution of Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on May 31, 2009, by saying the Lady was not above the law, and warned other countries not to put their oars in its water.
It was the first comment by a top official from the reclusive regime defending publicly its actions, which have drawn widespread international condemnation, including from its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
“If offenders are not prosecuted anarchy will prevail and there will be breaches of peace and security,” said Major-General Aye Myint, Burma’s deputy defense minister, at a security conference in Singapore.
The junta has charged Suu Kyi, 63, with violating the terms of her house arrest by sheltering an uninvited American, John Yettaw, 53, after he secretly swam to her lakeside home in early May.
In fact, Aung San Suu Kyi is the key figure in any dialogue aimed at national reconciliation. Regional players in the international community should say with one voice that excluding Suu Kyi and other key ethnic leaders and stakeholders in the 2010 election planned by the regime will lead to new civil strife. Then, in cooperation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, regional players should press for real democratic change in Burma.
Turning back the calendar six years would reveal the “Black Friday” premeditated ambush to assassinate the Lady near the town of Depayin in military-ruled Burma, at about 8:00 p.m. on May 30, 2003. Although Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo escaped from that killing, it was confirmed that many members and sympathizers of her National League for Democracy were massacred.
Estimates range from 100 to 282 NLD members and supporters killed, with 256 democracy activists arrested, in relation to the attack and many more wounded or missing.
A report by the special rapporteur on human rights to Burma, Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said, “There is prima facie evidence that the Depayin incident could not have happened without the connivance of state agents.”
If “no one is above the law,” why didn’t authorities take to court the guilty lawbreakers of Black Friday? At the very least an independent inquiry commission should have been formed to seek the truth. However, Burma’s junta ignored repeated calls from the international community to investigate the 2003 attack. Instead, the junta incessantly blamed the NLD for the country’s miseries.
Accordingly, there are a number of questions to be asked of Major-General Aye Myint:
Why did your regime fail to take legal action against the criminals in Depayin?
Is it your regime’s intention to harm the region’s peace and security by allowing thuggish gangs to practice anarchy?
Does your junta have a policy of practicing state terrorism?
Paulo Sergio Pinero, the former U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, wrote in the New York Times last Thursday: “It is time for the United Nations to take the next logical step: The Security Council must establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and impunity in Myanmar. The Security Council took similar steps with regard to Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The situation in Myanmar is equally as critical.”