Burma’s Mandela? Enjoying hope


As the newspapers reported a week ago, Aung San Suu Kyi hailed “the beginning of a new era” in Burma’s politics after the country’s Election Commission confirmed that her party had won a spectacular 40 out of 45 parliamentary seats in Sunday’s historic byelection.

“Look at us – we are so happy, it’s like we’ve each been released from prison,” said warehouse manager Myint Ng Than, 61, as men around him danced outside the NLD headquarters and sang along to a Johnny Cash-inspired anthem calling for the end of “sham democracy” . “We have freedom now. Amay Suu will save us.”

Depending on any human to save you can be a risky business but never the less this news brings such joy to my heart. I have such huge respect for a woman who has persevered through so much and is able to speak with clarity and peace, without bitterness and anger. I know very little about it but maybe she is something of a Nelson Mandela for Burma and it’s fragile democracy? There are obvious similarities and I am sure many differences.

The commentators have been quick to say that “the Burmese spring is still far from high summer” and that it is “too soon to celebrate Burma’s fragile democracy” – keen to emphasise “how far Burma has still to go”. Of course this is true and we need to pray for protection against a backlash from the military and its supporters in the current government, but it’s it good to take time to celebrate good news, to sit with and enjoy hope for a while before we dive into concern about future drawbacks and potential dangers?


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