Monday, October 03, 2011

SA Drags Feet in Democracy Struggle: Aung San Suu Kyi

Times Live
October 3, 2011.

Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has criticised South Africa for stalling on awarding a visa to the Dalai Lama and for lacking "enthusiasm" in fighting for democracy elsewhere.

Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday criticised South Africa for stalling on awarding a visa to the Dalai Lama and for lacking "enthusiasm" in fighting for democracy elsewhere.

"Sometimes we get the feeling perhaps that South Africa, or rather I must be frank and say perhaps South African authorities, do not support the struggle for democracy and human rights as enthusiastically as, for example, individuals like archbishop Desmond Tutu," Suu Kyi said in a video link interview at the University of Johannesburg.

South Africa has dithered on deciding whether to allow the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the country for anti-apartheid luminary Tutu's 80th birthday this week.

The Dalai Lama has paid three visits to South Africa, but in 2009 he was denied a visa, with the government saying it did not want to alienate its biggest trade partner China.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) looked on South Africans "as soulmates, our brothers and sisters who went through the same kind of struggles that we are going through now."

"But it would be so good if those who have successfully overcome their problems were to remember those who are still struggling to overcome theirs," she added.

The university will award Suu Kyi an honorary doctorate in absentia on Tuesday for her pro-democracy fight.

Her NLD party won a 1990 election but was never allowed to take power by the then-ruling military junta.

She was released from seven straight years of house arrest last November, shortly after a widely criticised election won by a general who traded his uniform for civilian garb.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela was a staunch supporter of Suu Kyi, but his country's support for her movement has cooled since his presidency.

In 2007 South Africa, while a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted against a US-led resolution urging democratic reform in Myanmar, saying the measure went beyond the council's mandate.


Comment: This morning I was talking to an editor of a professional peer reviewed journal and he asked me when he could expect an article from me.

I waffled but when I got off the phone I thought maybe an article on the undemocratic nature of South Africa's foreign policy could possibly be of interest (inside a Critical Race Theory and Postcolonialism framework).

Two decades into the post-apartheid era it is still difficult to assign a consistent democratic feature to South Africa's foreign policy.

The debacle in Libya is the most disastrous example of selling out on the supposed founding principles that was to guide this Frankenstein after 1994.

Folks probably have forgotten that South Africa sided with the authorities in Myanmar against the human rights momentum that eventually led to Suu Kyi's release from prison.

Then there is South Africa's too cosy relationship with China.  A relationship that found our leaders siding with the Chinese government when it killed Tibetan protestors.

To add further insult the South African government has bowed under pressure to deny the Dalai Lama a visa to visit the country and now finds itself dithering again on the same issue.

Is this Mandela's South Africa?

If you said no then you should remind yourself of the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation (how can he associate with the maniacal murderer that is Rhodes?) and the former president's association with golfer Gary Player who has a cosy relationship with the dictators in Myanmar (he built a golf course there).

We are a country of contradictions.

But our foreign policy is not really a contradiction.  It is just a narrow-defined neo-realist mess of elite considerations over the once touted human rights pretensions.

And we are not free.


Update (October 4, 2011): The Dalai Lama has cancelled his trip to South Africa.  See report here.

So South Africa belongs to China now?

See also: "This is the darkest day - Tutu centre" and then see "Outcry as Dalai Lama cancels SA trip".

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