Skip to main content

Suu Kyi calls for dialogue with Myanmar government

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Aung San Suu Kyi talks to CNN
  • Activist says "We have to work together"
  • Says she wants to discuss issues relevant to citizens
  • Suu Kyi says her party is looking into the recent elections

Yangon, Myanmar (CNN) -- Freed activist Aung San Suu Kyi pledged Monday to keep working toward restoring democracy and improving human rights in Myanmar, saying she is not concerned about being detained again in the future.

"Actually, I don't think about it," Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest Saturday, said in her first comments to CNN. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest for her dogged opposition to authoritarian rule in Myanmar -- which she calls by its former name, Burma.

"I may be detained again," Suu Kyi said, noting she's been in and out of house arrest over the last two decades. "I just do what I can do at the moment," she said.

"We have to work together," she said. "That is the main message. Those inside the country have to work together and also those supporters outside."

'The Lady' of Myanmar speaks out
Aung San Suu Kyi's future plans
Suu Kyi's lawyer cynical over release
Life in Myanmar

Suu Kyi had much the same message for her supporters Sunday, telling them in a speech, "I'm not going to be able to do it alone. You've got to do it with me. One person alone can't do anything as important as bringing change and democracy to a country."

"We would like to form a network of people working for democracy," she told CNN Monday, and said she would like to open a dialogue with "those who are in a position to do something, to change the situation in Burma for the better."

She said she has had no contact with Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar's top military leader and head of state. Asked what she would say to him, she said, "I think what we are looking for is dialogue, so I'm not just thinking about what I have to say to him. I think what we have to think about is what we have to say to each other."

She said she does not know what issues Shwe might want to bring up, but said she would like to discuss issues "relevant to the interests of Burma's people."

On the country's recent elections, she said her National League for Democracy party, although it played no role in the vote, is going to look into allegations of vote-rigging and other activities. She said that report could be provided to countries such as Vietnam who endorsed the balloting, and "they can study the report and decide for themselves how free and fair those elections were."

The probe will be done because of the "rule of law" and not because the party has anything to gain or lose, she said.

Asked whether Myanmar's current ruling military junta should remain in place, Suu Kyi said, "This is something that we have to discuss." She said she wants to know more about how citizens feel regarding the elections, find out more about sanctions and hear from those who imposed the sanctions.

"We have to review the situation from time to time," she said. "This is something that we've done over the years, and we're going to do it again."

Suu Kyi has not seen her children in about a decade. Asked if that will change soon, she said she wasn't sure, adding that her youngest son is in Bangkok, Thailand, awaiting a visa but had not yet been given one. She said she recently spoke with him -- "My conversations with my sons are always nice."

One person alone can't do anything as important as bringing change and democracy to a country.
--Aung San Suu Kyi

She also has grandchildren. She told CNN she met her oldest grandson about 10 years ago, "when he was very small."

She said she has no current plans to travel outside Myanmar, though she hopes to travel within its borders. She said she likely will not leave the country before seeing "significant progress in the way of democratic practices and human rights."

On how she spent her time while under house arrest, she said she stayed busy. "There were lots of things I had to take care of," she said. Suu Kyi said she listened to the radio for hours every day to stay in touch with the outside world and did a lot of reading. She was able to meet people from the outside, such as her attorneys and her doctors, she said. "There were never really enough hours in the day," she said. "I know that sounds strange."

A Facebook page supporting Suu Kyi has more than 250,000 fans. Asked whether she plans to join Facebook or Twitter, Suu Kyi said, "I was discussing this with some of the young people," who told her that most youths like Facebook because it's easier for them. She said she has not yet decided whether to join Facebook, Twitter -- or both.

She said she would rather consider the Facebook support as just that, support for her work, rather than popularity.

She noted that a number of political prisoners remain detained in Myanmar, and pleaded with the outside world not to forget them, saying that what they have to go through is "much worse" than her experience on house arrest. She also thanked those across the globe for supporting her.

Part of complete coverage on
China, India key to Myanmar reform
Activist Aung San Suu Kyi has made a passionate plea to build democracy in Myanmar, but do China and India hold key to change?
Release a catalyst for change?
Nyi Nyi Aung learned the news just before sunrise Saturday: the woman who has inspired him in his two-decade-long struggle was free.
Suu Kyi: Symbol of hope
She is small but only in physical stature. Aung San Suu Kyi is the very embodiment of Myanmar's long struggle for democracy.
Myanmar's recent history
Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.
Cyclone exposed secrets
Amid the destruction of Nargis, CNN was able to see firsthand the spirit of Myanmar's people.
Junta's grip on economy
Analysts say "bad governance" has led to the development of two parallel economies.