Washington: Myanmar`s just-freed pro-
democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi says she will not compromise
with the junta on her demand for the release of all political
prisoners, even as she hopes the resource-rich nation can
emulate China`s growth sans human rights violations there.
Suu Kyi, who was released on November 13 after spending
15 of the past 21 years in detention, said she was ready for
talks with the junta but except on the issue of political
prisoners, whose release is her top priority.
In the give-and-take with the junta, there is one area
the 65-year-old leader of the National League for Democracy
said she will not compromise -- the release of political
"The release of political prisoners certainly," she was
quoted as saying by CNN.
"And I don`t think actually if we get to the
negotiating table, the military will say we don`t believe in
the release of political prisoners. I don`t think it works
like that. That`s one of my top priorities."
Suu Kyi, who studied in Lady Sri Ram College in New
Delhi, said she maintained her sanity through meditation
during her long spells of imprisonment.
Commenting on the November 14 election in Myanmar,
which was criticised by the West as being a sham, she said she
does not believe the new assembly will be accountable to the
"One of the reasons why we decided not to take part in
the elections was precisely because we didn`t believe that
there was going to be any major change."
But the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is confident that
she can still extract reform and change from the junta,
especially since many younger people had joined her movement.
She said she envisions a Myanmar where progress goes hand
in hand with accountability and where the citizens feel
empowered legally and constitutionally to shape the course of
"I want the people to be more empowered and I want them
to feel more empowered," Suu Kyi said. "I want them to feel
that it is they who will decide what the destiny of the
country is; that they will have the proper means to shape the
destiny of the country."
Suu Kyi struck a conciliatory note with Myanmar`s
generals but did not excuse them from accepting responsibility
for the nation`s current state -- one that is impoverished,
underdeveloped and isolated from the global community.
"Of course we`d like economic progress but I think that
has to be balanced by what I would think of as accountability.
Progress has to go hand in hand with accountability."
She would like to see the kinds of economic leaps that
China made but without other aspects of the Communist-ruled
neighbouring country. "I think we would like more respect for
human rights in Burma than at present you can see going on in
China," she said.
She noted that Myanmar`s military leaders may not have
engaged in conversation because "you don`t have dialogue in
the military. You have commands."
"I think perhaps some of them don`t quite understand
what we mean by dialogue," she said. "What we mean by dialogue
is: `let`s talk to each other. We`ll tell you what we want.
You tell us what you want. We come to some sort of
compromise`. I don`t think this kind of exchange is something
with which the military, in general, are familiar and I think
that has been our greatest problem."
Suu Kyi also said she lives every day with the thought
that at any moment, she could be arrested again.
"It`s always a possibility," she said. "After all they`ve
arrested me several times in the past."
But she said, she can`t dwell on that. She has a lot of
work to do.