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Aung San Suu Kyi has “soft spot” for the military generals

September 21st, 2012
06:32 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the world's most revered advocates for democracy.

The repressive military regime in Myanmar kept her isolated from the world, under house arrest for almost twenty years.

In the last year her struggle finally paid off.

The country's new president, Thein Sein, freed her from detention and instituted a series of economic and political reforms – allowing her to win a seat in parliament this year.

Suu Kyi is now working with President Thein Sein – one of the ruling generals who kept her under house arrest.

I’ve never thought that what they did to me was personal. It is politics. And if you decide to go into politics, you have to be prepared to put up with these kinds of problems. I like a lot of the generals. I’m rather inclined to liking people,” she said. That includes, surprisingly, the very people who prevented her from seeing your husband and her children.

“I think it’s perfectly natural for me to feel this way,” she says. “I’ve always got on with people in the army; you mustn't forget that my father was the Founder of the Burmese army. This is why I have a soft spot for them even though I don't like what they do – that’s different from not liking them.”

She says she’s encouraged by her work in the legislature.

“We have a speaker who is very fair-minded and who treats us like a proper opposition, in spite of our very, very small numbers.”

This year she was finally able to collect the Nobel Peace Prize she won back in 1991.

This week Suu Kyi was in Washington to meet with President Obama. She received a hero's welcome at the U.S. Congress, where she accepted a congressional gold medal.

VIDEO: Suu Kyi awarded Congressional medal

The ceremony was broadcast at home in Myanmar - the first time that the state broadcaster aired footage of Suu Kyi overseas.

She says she appreciates the accolades, but can also be embarrassed by it.

“It doesn’t seem right for anybody to get so much attention.”

Suu Kyi believes the U.S. should now have a waiver on some of their sanctions against Myanmar. She contends that the sanctions were politically very effective, but disagrees with those who claim they had a severe, negative effect.

“Of course it wasn’t sanctions alone that brought about the reforms but I think sanctions played a very, very important part.”

On the personal impact of her house arrest, she says she can’t make up the years she lost with her sons when they were children. She denies reports that she’s estranged from son Alexander.

“You can’t make it up to them as children, because they’re no longer children and they probably wouldn’t like me to treat them as children anymore… So I think what I would simply wish to do is to learn to have a good relationship with them across the distance that separates us.”

Suu Kyi is 'global symbol' of progress, says U.N. secretary

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Myanmar
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Bill Anderson

    Read about my struggle for democracy in the US with a search for "New police weapon against homeless".

    September 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  2. Khin Nyo

    Thank you so much for the great interview, Christiane!

    September 22, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
  3. Htaik Seng

    Reblogged this on htaikseng.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:55 am | Reply
  4. Milton

    Suu Kyi is fantastic, 'compromising' is not giving up, she has done more than anyone else already, nobody can imagine what she has been through, I hope she carries on for a long time

    September 22, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply
  5. Engr Sanusi Yau

    Suu Kyi is always full of suprises! I can't imagine how quickly she softened up. I hope she will continue with the struggle until her last breath.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  6. Pasta

    That's nice, given that she does nothing, probably even laugh while Rohingya Muslims were killed in her country. But then, Burma has a long history of ethnic cleansing to keep their racial pores clean.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:53 am | Reply
    • Burman

      Don't talk about Rohinya here. There are no "Rohinya" in Burma, only illegal Bengali. They are in Assam as well as in parts of India and Mombai.

      DASSK got to look after the Burmese not illegal aliens.

      September 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
      • munja

        aha, they are "illegal", so it is allowed "clean" them via genocide, don't you !? Suu Kyi is such a hypocrite as well as "democratic west"

        September 24, 2012 at 6:44 am |
      • zik

        What about Hindus comming from Pakistan.Will you call them illegal Pakistanis?Go & read the history then write.There was subsequent Muslim population in Burma at the time of creation of Burma..Rohingiyas are very much Burmese not Bangladeshis.

        September 24, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  7. Alex

    She is so wonderful, incredible..

    September 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  8. Mazy

    Just like America is holding Afiya Siddique captive.

    September 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
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  10. Ben

    Please, don't kid yourselves. She is only going after the money too, the same as the Generals. She was "enlightened" by the Generals and multinationals on Myanmars natural wealth. Doesn't it seem kind of strange that all of a sudden there is a change of heart in Myanmar? Sounds to me like she got a piece of the action just as the Generals did and everything is ok now.

    September 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  11. Younghyun Kim(World Innocent)

    As one of all world bastions of world justice and peace, this so-called weak and unworthly ordinary individual among all world innocents appreciates her(or a respectable world women leader) trying to plant the seeds of democracy and justice for her precious people and the global villages, where should have done well with this era's all mankind's long-cherished cause and also, been going to come up with stronger measures to fight against our time's all evildoers' unpardonable atrocities against all the sound world innocents, who can help their international society blot out its barbaric acts or the vandalism of man.

    This weak world innocent or 순수인 in korean prays for her precious people's grand happiness and her country's good prospects and better growth for human rights + democracy and economy. And hope her country will metamorphose into a well-formed democratic country as much as all world countries must be and have already been at the top of. This disinterested world innocent hopes she is always healthy and happy and Good luck to her precious people!

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    September 24, 2012 at 3:07 am | Reply
  12. zik

    she is just another agent of west & Multi national companies.West need her to enter the market in Myanmar & take control of natural resources.She doesn't deserve peace prize as she has not spoken a single words for Muslims massacre in Burma.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:02 am | Reply
  13. Sahiba

    SHE DOESN'T DESERVE PEACH PRIZE.. WHAT A DOUBLE STANDARD... SHE GOT THE PRIZE BECAUSE SHE ALLOW TO KILLED MUSLIM NOT FOR PEACEFUL L COUNTRY

    September 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | Reply
  14. Habib

    Like always:Great.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  15. Habib

    I think she totally deserves that.Because she showed the other how to fight by words and in a peaceful way like Gandhi.Viva democracy.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
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