Finding George Orwell in Burma
Emma Larkin (NPR)
We were sitting in the baking-hot front room of his house in a sleepy port town in Lower Burma. The air was oppressive and muggy. I could hear mosquitoes whining impatiently around my head, and I was about to give up. The man was a well-known scholar in Burma, and I knew he was familiar with Orwell. But he was elderly; cataracts had turned his eyes an oystery blue, and his hands trembled as he readjusted his sarong. I wondered if he was losing his memory but, after several failed attempts, I made one final stab. "George Orwell," I repeated — "the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four." The old man's eyes suddenly lit up. He looked at me with a brilliant flash of recognition, slapped his forehead gleefully, and said, "You mean the prophet!"
Aung San Suu Kyi -- the legitimate, democratically-elected leader of Burma, who has been detained since a military coup immediately following her election -- was freed from house arrest after 15 years, and upon release said she will go for peaceful revolution.
While talking to the BBC from her headquarters she confidently said that democracy will be restored in the country (which the junta renamed Myanmar). But, she is not aware as to how long the process will take. Buddhist monks already rose up during 2007's Saffron Revolution. She added that her freedom has given her an opportunity to speak to generals in the dictatorship.
She was released six days after the country saw its first pretense at elections in decades. Even though her party won by a landslide last time and the violent dictatorship is universally reviled, she was not allowed to participate.
The rigged (s)elections ensured that the military-backed party USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Party, formerly SLORC) won. The country is supported by neighboring China. But the results were rejected outright by the West.
During the interview, Aung San Suu Kyi said that she is not being subjected to any kind of restrictions during her release (other than the knowledge that she can immediately be arrested without warning as she has been many times before). She is a Nobel laureate who won her peace prize while in detention.