Suu Kyi seeks India’s continued backing for Myanmar

Myanmar’s Opposition leader and prodemocracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently on a visit to the country, has expressed the hope that the Indian people will support her country in the “last difficult phase” before it becomes a fully-fledged democracy.

Published: 15th November 2012 10:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2012 10:30 AM   |  A+A-

Myanmar’s Opposition leader and prodemocracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently on a visit to the country, has expressed the hope that the Indian people will support her country in the “last difficult phase” before it becomes a fully-fledged democracy.

Digressing from her prepared text for Wednesday’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture, the Nobel laureate said that the two words that she had encountered from people in the last two days was “expectation” and “disappointment”.

She also did not mince words while expressing her profound sadness at the apparent policy shift shown by New Delhi in courting the South-EastAsian nation’s military junta.

“Expectation is not something we can indulge in. Disappointment is also something we cannot indulge in,” she said, but added, “I was saddened to see that we had drawn away from India, or India had drawn away from us during our very difficult days.

” Right from the early nineties, when the Narasimha Rao-led Congress Government was at the helm, New Delhi had veered away from its traditional backing for the pro-democracy movement towards a gradual reconciliation with the Junta-- acknowledging the influence of Beijing as well as the use of Yangon as a launching pad by the NorthEastern insurgent outfits.

However, Suu Kyi, who is the daughter of modern Myanmar’s founding father, Aung Sang, said that she had faith in the “lasting friendship” between the people of the two countries.

“I hope the friendship of both the countries will continue in the future.our relations should be based on friendship between the peoples and not the governments.governments come and go, and that’s what democracy is all about,” she said to a standing ovation from the high-profile audience at Vigyan Bhawan.

She had arrived here on a week-long visit to the country on Tuesday, following an invite from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for delivering the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture.

Earlier, in the 30-minutelong speech, Suu Kyi recalled the solace she had drawn from the writings of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during her long incarceration.

“Nehru’s book ‘A Discovery of India’, written while he was in jail, was also a discovery of myself,” said Suu Kyi, who was visiting India after a 25-year gap.

Referring to an anecdote from Nehru’s memoir-- wherein he resisted giving an assurance to the British authorities to give up politics for waiving the rest of his prison term, to tend to his ailing wife, Kamala--Suu Kyi said she had narrated the anecdote to her family and the members of her party to convince them that they must be ready to sacrifice themselves for the larger good.

On the close ties between Nehru and her father, General Aung San, she said the Indian leader had not only hosted the great Burmese freedom fighter on his journey to England for talks in January 1947, but had also given sartorial help to cope with the bitter English winter.

“Panditji took one look at the flimsy khaki outfit (of my father) and decided it would not do for the icy weather of London.

He gave instructions that two sets of a warm and smart version of the PVO (People’s Volunteer Organisation) uniform be made immediately,” Suu Kyi, who was two at the time, recalled.

But with no time for an overcoat to be made to cope with one of the coldest winters in the UK’s history, Nehru ordered the procurement of a British Army issue greatcoat.

“The most widely known photograph of my father shows him wearing this garment, rather oversized, in the garden of 10 Downing Street,” she said.

Welcoming her at the function, the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi described her as “one of the most remarkable figures” of her time, and added that her India visit was like a “homecoming”.

Suu Kyi also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the two leaders discussed the national reconciliation process under way in Myanmar and the ongoing democratisation process there.

According to sources, the PM conveyed “our good wishes are with you as indeed with your struggle for democracy”.

“We admire you for the indomitable courage you have shown,” he said.

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