Democracy and Burma

17 November 2011

Professor Wojciech Sadurski met Aung San suu Kyi during his recent to Burma and spoke to her about the current political situation in Burma.

Professor Sadurski filed the following report:

"The crucial issue now is internal peace. We need to work towards peace and harmony among all the ethnic nationalities of Burma. Andat the moment there are still problems in someareas and we would like you and everybody elseto do everything you can to promoteunderstanding and harmony between ourdifferent ethnic groups"- Aung San Suu Kyi told Wojciech Sadurski addressing his questions about the ways Community of Democracies can help foster the move towards democracy in Burma (Myanmar).

Professor Wojciech Sadurski, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the Community of Democracies met with the leader of National League of Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate at her home in Rangoon, Burma, on 10 November 2011, to discuss current political situation in Burma (known also as Myanmar) and the possible CD's involvement in the transition of democracy in that country.

Commenting on the recent overtures by President Thein Sein towards the formally outlawed NLD, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi affirmed that she believes "that the President wants to engage in real dialogue" and that she has "confidence in his sincerity for his willingness for reforms".

She admitted that she does not know "how much of the government he has behind him and particularly the military", and she added that "he does have a lot of personal authority, particularly because he is known to be the man of integrity and there never has been so much as a hint of scandal such as corruption with regard to him or his family. And for that he is well respected in the military".

Talking about constitutional and legal changes which would make a participation of NLD in Burmese political life possible, Aung San Suu Kyi said that there has been changes in the law on political parties made which are welcomed by NLD, and that the NLD leadership would decide soon bout whether to re-register as a political party and participate in the forthcoming partial elections.

Asked about other constitutional changes, she said that it would be premature to talk about it at this point.

Regarding the dangers of disintegration of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi said: "The ethnic nationalitiesare not asking for secession. They're asking for equal rights and autonomy which is a completelydifferent thing. So I do not think we have to fear the breaking up the Union simply because weare prepared to defend the rights of ethnic nationalities".

Talking about the approach to be taken in a future democratic Burma towards those guilty of violations of human rights under the military regime, Aung San Suu Kyi said: "We'll have to workout our own model (of dealing with the authoritarian past) but on the whole I prefer the SouthAfrican model which is what Desmond Tutu described as restorative justice rather thanretributive justice. This is my personal preference but of course in the end it's the majorityopinion that will count in the democracy".

Professor Sadurski discussed also with Aung San Suu Kyi the involvement of CD in the forthcoming visit of a group of young NLD activists to Poland where they will study the experience of Poland in transition to democracy.

As Aung San Suu Kyi said: "We don't want them to be depressed or discouraged because Poland seems so much more developed than Burma; we just want them to

understand that we can also get to such stage if we work hard enough. And we have the great advantage that we are starting from almost nothing. And if you are starting from almost nothing you can learn from the mistakes of others. We can learn from your mistakes, as well as from your successes".

During his visit to Rangoon, Professor Sadurski met also other leaders of NLD, including Vice-President of NLD U Tin U and member of the Central Executive Committee of NLD and senior legal advisor to NLD and to Aung San Suu Kyi, U Nyan Win.

They discussed various possibilities for CD's help in promoting democracy in Burma, and in particular an idea of a series of workshops on democratic experience in transitional democracies to be held for NLD activists in the next year, possibly in Bangkok.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 171354261f070755142f362519060b22430b2e5a10564b025d3f6d2539