In March 2017, I wrote a two-part article for Pakistan Today on Aung San Suu Kyi who I have followed & written about since the genocidal assault on the Rohingya in 2012. What compelled me was a horrific report about Thailand turning back hundreds of fleeing Rohingya by towing them out to sea on boats that were not seaworthy. At the same time, Suu Kyi was being feted all over the world as a human rights icon while refusing to address the genocide going on. Governments were bowing & scraping to her as a goddess of justice while tens of thousands of Rohingya were in terror for their lives.
On close investigation, there isn’t much there to Suu Kyi’s human rights record. But there is considerable evidence of her long associations with the military, including through her father who founded the Burmese Army & her mother who served as an ambassador to India for the military dictatorship. The political party that she heads was formed after the 1988 popular national uprising (which was brutally repressed by the military) by retired high level military officers & I know that because I went through the biographies of every one present at the inauguration of that party, including Suu Kyi who was one of the few civilians present. Not a one of them had a progressive credential to their name.
Burmese capitalism is controlled, even under neoliberalism, by the military. All large-scale investment by China, Canada & other countries in mining, hydroelectric power, gas & oil, agribusiness, etc. are joint venture operations with the military which has always retained political & economic power in Burma, even under the facade of a civilian government. You don’t do business in Burma without cooperating with the military. She didn’t get to the presidency without helping the military manufacture an image of reform. Burmese capitalism was stagnant & in crisis & required massive investments. But there were military & economic sanctions imposed on Burma after their repression of the 1988 uprising which sent tens of thousands of activists to jail or into exile where they remain. To get rid of the sanctions, the military used Suu Kyi to create an image of democratic reform. Why Suu Kyi agreed is a matter for abnormal psychology to resolve. Class is directly involved but she also may have a messianic image of herself as a result of her father’s role in the formation of Burma & its military after British colonialism.
This is part one of my article on Suu Kyi: https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/03/03/the-legend-of-aung-san-suu-kyi/?
A third article on Suu Kyi & the generals: https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/09/23/aung-san-suu-kyi-and-the-generals/?