Suu Kyi calls for completely free, independent and unbiased journalism
- Freedom from fear, end to civil war
- Independent, free and fair judiciary
- Rule of law to protect the people
- Completely free, independent journalism
Aung San Suu Kyii, in a landmark political broadcast on national state-controlled television on Wednesday, has called for the restoration of the rule of law; “completely free, independent and unbiased journalism”; an independent, free and fair judiciary; and changes to the constitution.
Burma’s election commission censored her speech, removing a portion containing criticisms of the lack of freedom of speech and lack of access to information during military rule under the previous junta.
Her telecast was the first time she has been allowed to address the Burmese people on state media. New election laws for by-elections on April 1 allow each political party to make a 15-minute political broadcast to announce their manifestos.
Aung Sang Suu Kyii’s party, the National League for Democracy, is contesting in 47 seats in the by-elections on April 1. One candidate was disqualified. (There are 440 seats in the House and 224 in the Senate; 110 MPs and 56 senators are appointed by the military.)
According to an informal translation by a Burmese activist, Aung Sang Suu Kyi said the Burmese people must be allowed freedom from fear. “As long as freedom of movement and human rights are not fully achieved,” democracy will not prevail, she said.
She noted that Burma was still engaged in a civil war that began after independence from Britain in 1948.
She listed restoration of the rule of law as the top item on the NLD manifesto, and said “there is only fear in the lives of the people” because there was no rule of law as the judiciary was subject to the executive (the military junta). Strict media laws and censorship deprived the people of freedom of speech, freedom to write, freedom to listen and freedom of expression.
There could be no democracy without freedom from fear, she said, and the people could genuinely enjoy freedom only when they were protected by law and when there was rule of law. A judiciary independent of the executive was needed to ensure that no one was above the law, and that all were presumed innocent until proven guilty.
We need to immediately get rid of laws that are outdated. We need to draft laws that give protection to the public. We need to create conditions for a free and fair judiciary. We need to have completely free, independent and unbiased journalism. We need to expand institutions that help the public.
She said the 2008 constitution drafted by the military does not conform with democratic norms and it should be changed where needed. The constitution reserves 25% of parliament’s seats for the military, which makes it near impossible to obtain the 75% majority needed for amendments to the constitution.
She also called for improvements in education, health care, agriculture and the lives of workers and younger people.
- » BBC news clip with English voiceover [27sec]
- » Suu Kyi: Constitution does not conform with ‘democratic norms’