The pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, examines what drives people to dissent in the second of the 2011 Reith Lecture series. ‘Securing Freedom’.
Reflecting on the history of her own party, the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, examines the meaning of opposition and dissident. She also explains her reasons for following the path of non-violence.
The Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, explores what freedom means in the first of the 2011 Reith Lecture series, ‘Securing Freedom’.
Reflecting on her own experience under house arrest in Burma, she explores the universal human aspiration to be free and the spirit which drives people to dissent. She also comments on the Arab Spring, comparing the event that triggered last December’s revolution in Tunisia with the death of a student during a protest in Burma in 1988.
Reith lectures 2011, lecture one – Aung San Suu Kyi by kzy1980
LONDON — Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver two BBC lectures on the struggle against authoritarian regimes, eight months after her release from house arrest, the broadcaster said Friday.
The addresses have been pre-recorded in Myanmar and form part of the 2011 Reith Lectures, a major annual event in the BBC calendar which honours the first head of the broadcaster, John Reith.
“To be speaking to you through the BBC has a very special meaning for me. It means that once again I am officially a free person,” said Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi in a statement released by the BBC.
“When I was officially ‘unfree’, that is to say when I was under house arrest, it was the BBC that spoke to me — I listened.”
Her first lecture, to be broadcast on June 28, looks at dissent in Myanmar and the second, to be broadcast on July 5, explores how freedom can be won with reference to the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Middle East.
Suu Kyi was released on November 13 following her latest stint of house arrest, which lasted seven years, and shortly after the country’s first elections in 20 years.
Oxford-educated Suu Kyi swept the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide election win in 1990, but the military regime never accepted the result and she spent much of the past two decades a prisoner in her own home.
Her party boycotted the November 7 elections, saying the rules were unfair. Suu Kyi was excluded from the vote which was won by the military’s political proxies.
Power is now held by a nominally civilian but army-backed government.
In her comments released on Friday, Suu Kyi said that listening to the BBC while she was under house arrest gave her “a kind of freedom, the freedom of reaching out to other human minds.
“Of course it was not the same as a personal exchange but it was a form of human contact.”
She added: “Even though I cannot be with you in person, I am so grateful for this opportunity to exercise my right to human contact by sharing with you my thoughts on what freedom means to me and others across the world who are still in the sad state of what I would call ?unfreedom’.”
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be reluctant to take a trip out of Burma for fear of not being let back in, but that has not stopped her from headlining a popular arts festival in Britain.
Suu Kyi is the ‘guest director’ of the Brighton Festival 2011 to be held in this British coastal resort from May 7 to 29.
This year the organizers of the popular event chose Suu Kyi and the themes of freedom of speech, human rights and freedom for political prisoners. The festival helps tell of the issues concerning Burma through the arts.
According to Burma Campaign UK director Anna Roberts, ‘It’s fantastic that a festival of this calibre can celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi and keep Burma’s cause and the fight for human rights in the public eye at such a critical time’.
The festival provides a mix of music, film, drama and talks, including a debate on ‘The Future of Burma’ with Sue Lloyd Roberts, Burmese activist Zoya Phan and Robert Gordon, British ambassador to Burma 1995-99. The documentaries ‘Burma Soldier’ and ‘Burma VJ’ will also be shown.
Music and the arts are said to have been important to Suu Kyi during her life, split between Burma, Britain, the United States, Bhutan and India.
Suu Kyi will not attend this major arts festival. But in a message she appealed to the participants ‘to use your freedom of expression to let the world know what it is like in our country, what it is like to not be able to say what you want to say’.
The pro-democracy leader is conscious that she has to remain in Burma. If she traveled abroad, there is fear that the authorities might not allow her to return.
Suu Kyi says in her video message that the artists taking part should show Burma’s leaders how it was ‘not to hurt people, not to accuse anybody of anything, but simply to express what we would wish to see in our country, what our aspirations are, what our hopes are, what our beliefs are and we are not able to do this.
‘But you who have so much creativity and who have understood that variety is the very spice of life and would be able to help us to make the world understand’.
Suu Kyi, an avid piano player, says she loves Western classical music but in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper of London, she admitted to also being a fan of the rock band Grateful Dead, a group one of her sons encouraged her to listen to. She said she also likes Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’, that includes the lyrics, ‘get up, stand up, stand up for your rights’.
It seems fitting that the festival will begin with Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’, an opera that tells how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named Fideleo, rescues her husband from death in a political prison. Suu Kyi has spent time in prison and lengthy periods under house arrest.
As she says in her video, if Burma’s rulers could only ‘understand how much we have to gain by more freedom of expression, I think we will make substantial steps towards the direction of democratization’.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said: ‘We all think of the Brighton Festival as an occasion, a time for festivity, for diversity, for creativity, for expression, for freedom of expression. This is especially important to us in Burma who have been deprived of this right of freedom for very many years’.