ON THE VERGE: Aung San Suu Kyi is “Beyond Rangoon”

WRITTEN and photographed BY SUSANNE HAERPFER

For Saturday Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to receive the Nobel prize she has been awarded with in 1991. Since then she did not leave Burma/Myanmar. It will be the day after tomorrow that “The lady” will give her Nobel lecture.
Parallel the movie about Lady Aung San Suu Kyi by international director Luc Besson will be in the cinemas.
Traditionally the Nobel Prize ceremony takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. Until now Suu Kyi is said to give her speech in Oslo, Norway instead. Whether this information is correct, and if so, why, has not been stated on, so far. Information on Burma is contradictory – at least from an insiders´ point of view. The government of Burma has put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. Nevertheless she has been travelling within the country.
The Nobel Prize ceremony comes at a time with clashes between ethnic and religious groups suddenly violently rising. Over years the inhabitents of Burma lived in relative peace. It is just recently that reports about sudden outbreaks of war between Buddhist and Muslim ethnic groups can be watched on regional television channels as well as on youtube.
Aung San Suu Kyi therefor serves as unifying peace representative for the whole country – since 24 years. It is only Queen Elizabeth II who has been serving her country for a longer period of time. Aung San Suu Kyi studied and lived in Britain for years and was married to British citizen Michael Aris. She will be travelling to London next week in order to speak for the Houses of Parliament. In Oxford she is offered an Honorary Doctorate.

 

photographed by susanne haerpfer at rangoon

photographed by susanne haerpfer at rangoon

Nevertheless Aung San Suu Kyi insisted on a guarantee to be allowed to travel back to Burma. Despite Burmese workers living in neighbor state of Thailand asking for the possibility of of returning “home”. For many this would be Great Britain – the former colonial rule of the Union of Burmese states. Therefor talks with the International Labor Organization (ILO) took place. Credits by ILO are needed in order to be accepted as seafarers on an international scale. It has been Burmese seafarers being caught on ships ashore of Somalia. In 2008 Birmese seafarers had made it into the international headlines with being caught by Pirates. In Germany the case of the freighter “Lehmann timber” is still lingering at court. The cargo ship „Lehmann timber“ was stopped at this time in 2008 by pirates seeking ransom. The Captain´s nationality was described as Russian. Four officers came from Ukraine, one from Estland and nine boatsmen were Burmese. The German line was said to be unwilling to pay the seafarers´s fare. For which reasons and which cargo was on board that rouse the pirates´interest has not been publicly reported.
Burma traditionally is known as being logged, eg. by Chinese contractors. Apart from infamous opium trade. Jade, rubies, oil and gas are the industrial products associated with Burma.
With French oil major Total SA’s (TOT) Chairman and Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie Aung San Suu met on June 9 th. Diplomatic talks as already carried out the past years. Difficult to match with the Western perception of Aung San Suu Kyi as junta adversary. In the West she is portrayed as opposition and regime critic. Thus one would expect a more controversal approach.
A nuclear power plant is being built in the earthquake and hurricane striven country. Contractors of German Heckler&Koch weapons over years held a company´s representation in Burma. In 2002 the German Frity Werner was present in Burma by an official office as well as Siemens and half a dozen owner based companies.
The US Office of Foreign Assetts Control OFAC listed a Burmese weapons trafficker as well as members of the Government of Myanmar.
When attending the World Economic Forum in June 2 nd, Aung San Suu Kyi concentrated on mainstream economic branches. Though she played with words when stating that many might plead for>
“Lo hanging” – pause – “fruits”; implying that “tropical fruits” has been a commonly used code for arms. Aung San Suu Kyi contrasts with a “ginger” approach.
“I want suspension of sanctions,” she says. This is a very diplomatic expression of saying – nothing. Suspension can be translated as postponing as well as right the opposite. The same is true for sanction. Sanctioning can imply a boycott. But traders use the term for agreeing.
To which Aung San Suu Kyi is agreeing, only her and Myanmar astrologists might know. Stability could be a core coin of hers. Cautious as well.
Best pre-supposition for the Nobel prize. Especially in times that arrests of Salafi groups take the lead. Burma has been alleged of serving as a trespass for terrorists aligned to the terror attacks of September 11 according to the official Committees´ Report. Aung San Suu Kyi signals balance visually. Today when adressing the Labour| Organization the lady presented her on screen wearing a scarf in Moslem green. The World Economic Forum was represented in light Jade green with Chinese silk buttons. The interest of Japanese representatives of energy conglomerates centered the international meeting in Bangkok.
The panel discussion stressed the relevance of cell phones and to which extent as well as according to which conditions they will be allowed in the country. This might sound as restrictive. US Department of Defense will look upon it as very wise. As the US Government accounting office GAO just stressed again the top priority of defense against electronically triggered explosions< often started off by cell phones. Key topic for the Nobel prize laureate. Jaunty Aung San Suu Kyi declines nevertheless that she probably will not starr in international media< whether literally speaking on facebook or in a figurative sense in a movie such as Mercury Puzzle.

house of aung san suu kyi photographed by susanne Haerpfer

house of aung san suu kyi photographed by susanne Haerpfer

Her speech on Saturday will be presented by webcam stream. Aung San Suu Kyi stands for balancing tradition and modern developments. When originally being awarded with the Nobel peace prize in 1991, the “Professors Jerome I. Friedman and Henry W. Kendall, both of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Richard E. Taylor” received the Nobel Prize in Physics for showing the existence of an inner structure in the protons and neutrons of the atomic nucleus. In the same year the Second Gulf War occurred. Lauda Air crashed in Bangkok. A plane with Islamic pilgrims on the way to Nigeria crashed in Saudi Arabia as well as a Lockheed airplane. 2000 citizens died in an earth quake in India. The vulcano Pinatubo errupted in the Philippines. 200, 000 died and half a million people became homeless, when a cyclone lead to a Tsunami, devastating the coast line of Bangladesh. At that time the nuclear power plant was not yet under construction.