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Local media calls on 'Aunty Suu' to make concessions

world Updated: Oct 21, 2007 14:35 IST
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In the wake of increased sanctions against the regime, Myanmar's state-run media on Sunday called upon detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, belittling her as "Aunty Suu," to make concessions that could lead towards a political dialogue.

"No dialogue can achieve success without sacrifices and concessions," said an open letter that appeared in The New Light of Myanmar on Sunday and was repeated in other state-run media.

"Aunty Suu, you should understand the nature of giving up something for achieving another that is 10 times more valuable and beneficial," said the two-page editorial, signed by Chan Mya Aye, which was believed to be a pen name.

The open criticism of Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel peace laureate who has been under house arrest for the past four years, followed announcements by the US and European Union last week that they will step up sanctions against Myanmar's ruling junta, specifically targeting its senior generals.

Myanmar has been in the international spotlight again since last month's crackdown on peaceful monk-led demonstrations in Yangon that left at least 10 dead, according to government figures.

Independent observers believe the death toll was closer to 200, and noted that thousands of dissidents who participated in the protests were arrested and continue to languish and die in Myanmar's notorious prison system.

The crackdown sparked international outrage toward the regime but has also highlighted the lack of diplomatic options left to the world community to solve Myanmar's political dilemma.

The country has been under a military dictatorship since 1962, and has continued to be ruled by generals for the past 17 years despite a 1990 general election that should have brought Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) to power.

In the wake of last month's upheaval, the United Nations dispatched special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to Myanmar to broker a political dialogue between the junta and Suu Kyi.

State Peace and Development Council head Senior General Than Shwe told Gambari he was willing to meet Suu Kyi on the condition that she drop her support of western sanctions against Myanmar and her "confrontation" tactics.

The NLD has rejected the preconditions. Its strongest card against the junta, which holds all the guns, is the West's ongoing economic sanctions on the regime, some analysts note.

Myanmar watchers have said the Junta's game plan is to use Suu Kyi to persuade the West to drop its sanctions, and then to drag out political reforms until they have a steadier flow of income from natural gas sales.

"It is human nature that everyone wants the upper hand," noted The New Light of Myanmar editorial in its letter to "Aunty Suu".

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