LONDON (Reuters) - Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said there were “notable similarities” between December’s revolution in Tunisia and the 1988 uprising in her own country that led to her original detention by military authorities.
Both rebellions started with small, apparently unimportant events that grew into national protests in pursuit of freedom, Suu Kyi said in a speech secretly recorded by Britain’s BBC in Myanmar earlier this month and due to be broadcast on Tuesday.
But while Tunisia’s revolution led to the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked a wave of upheavals across north Africa, Myanmar’s student-led uprising was crushed by the military, she said.
“The Tunisian army did not fire on their people, the Burmese army did,” said Suu Kyi, excluded from politics since she was first detained in 1989.
”The second (difference), and in the long-run probably the more important one, is that the Tunisian revolution enjoyed the benefits of the communications revolution.
“This not only enabled them to better organize and coordinate their movements. It kept the attention of the whole world firmly focused on them,” said the 66-year-old Nobel laureate in a speech to be transmitted on BBC’s Radio 4 channel.
“The Burmese are as excited by these events as peoples elsewhere ... The similarities between Tunisia and Burma are the similarities that bind people all over the world who long for freedom,” she said.
Suu Kyi’s linking of the two events is unlikely to please authorities in the country, also known as Burma, who released her from house arrest last November.
Her release came days after a pro-military party swept elections widely dismissed as unfair.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD), won the previous election in 1990 but was never allowed to govern.
In February state media warned that Suu Kyi and her party would “meet their tragic end” if they failed to change their opposition position, days after the NLD said it supported Western sanctions on Myanmar.
Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention, most of it under house arrest in Yangon, due to her opposition to 48 years of military rule.
Reporting by Tim Castle, Editing by Mark Trevelyan