Thursday, 21 July 2016

So Much Simpler . . .

A Portrait of Courage

In early 1989, Myanmar was in turmoil.  The military government had cracked down hard on political dissent.  Aung San Suu Kyi, carrying her freedom by a slender thread, was touring the country speaking to groups of people, calling for basic human rights to be respected by the government and for free and fair elections.

On the 5th of April 1989 Aung San Suu Kyi was seconds away from being deliberately executed by soldiers.  She was touring the Irrawaddy District when a group of soldiers confronted Suu Kyi and her group.  Their commanding officer told his troops to train their rifles upon them.

Eyewitnesses recounted:
As she (Suu Kyi) was walking down the street with some followers during a campaign visit, six soldiers under the command of an Army captain jumped down from a jeep, assumed a kneeling position, and took aim at her.  She motioned her followers to wait on the sidewalk, and she herself walked down the centre of the road towards the soldiers.  "It seemed so much simpler to provide them with a single target than to bring everyone else in," she said.  [Recounted in Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom From Fear (New York: The Penguin Group, 1991), p. 340.]
It was at this point that a major arrived just before they fired and countermanded the order, doubtless sparing her life.  Small wonder she remains a living legend in her own country.  Travellers report that one can be sitting in cafes and restaurants, and locals will come up to converse, practising their English.  It is not long before they ask, "And have you heard of our Aung San Suu Kyi?"

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