Burma’s reform process has yet to deliver sustainable democratic gains, Aung San Suu Kyi cautioned today.
She called for the repeal of repressive laws, judicial independence, full media freedom and expanding social assistance to include legal aid in her first campaign speech for Burmese state television. In a leaked video of the speech, posted on several websites (above), Suu Kyi outlines her National League for Democracy’s party platform for the April 1 by-elections.
She called for amending the 2008 constitution, which was drafted with the army’s guidance, saying that its automatic allocation of 25 percent of the parliamentary seats to unelected representatives of the military is not democratic. However, she also extended a hand to the military, which has been her constant nemesis since she became a leader of the country’s pro-democracy movement in 1988.
“According to Myanmar’s political history, I believe that the military must play a role for the development of the country,” she said. “I also believe that the military, which was founded by my father, Gen. Aung San, is always ready to serve in the interest of the country.”
The Election Commission censored a paragraph of the text of Suu Kyi’s speech, reports suggest, which had to be submitted in advance. It was excised under regulations that include a ban on statements harming the military’s image.
The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights to Burma has expressed his concerns about the robustness of the reform process.
“A positive impact on the human rights situation has been made” in Burma, but “ongoing and serious human rights concerns remain to be addressed,” Tomas Ojea Quintana told the U.N. Human Rights Council:
He said among the most serious challenges are poverty and food insecurity, and while he was encouraged by the various reforms undertaken to promote development and economic growth, he continued to be informed about the extent of deprivation of human rights throughout the country, particularly in ethnic border areas.
“These are fundamental rights that are equally essential to Burma’s democratic transition, national reconciliation and its long-term stability,” he said.