Myanmar's Suu Kyi 'fond' of army that detained her

AFP , Sunday 27 Jan 2013

Myanmar's opposition leader and Nobel laureate San Suu Kyi says she is 'fond' of the army despite being held under military-imposed house arrest during the last two decades

San Suu Kyi
pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi talks with another lawmaker as she attends a regular session of Myanmar Lower House at parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, May 2, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Myanmar's opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi remains "fond" of her country's army despite claims that it has recruited child soldiers and used rape as a weapon, she said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was herself held under house arrest by the military for most of the last two decades, told the BBC radio show "Desert Island Discs" she hoped the army could redeem itself for "terrible" things it has done.

She confirmed that she wants to become Myanmar's president after elections in 2015 -- but she will not be eligible for the post without constitutional reforms that need military backing.

"It's genuine, I'm fond of the army," the 67-year-old told the show, which was recorded last month at her home in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw.

"People don't like me for saying that. There are many who have criticised me for being what they call a poster girl for the army... But I think the truth is I am very fond of the army, because I always thought of it as my father's army."

Suu Kyi's father Aung San, considered the father of modern Myanmar, created the army and led the struggle against British colonial rule.

"I was taught that my father was the father of the army, and that all soldiers were his sons -- and therefore they were part of my family," Suu Kyi told the BBC.

"It's terrible what they've done and I don't like what they've done at all. But if you love somebody, I think you love her or him in spite of and not because of, and you always look forward to a time when they will be able to redeem themselves."

Rights groups have accused Myanmar's army of serious rights violations including rape, torture and the recruitment of child soldiers.

The military remains locked in an escalating conflict with rebels in the northern Kachin state -- where tens of thousands of people have been displaced since June 2011 -- despite the announcement of unilateral ceasefire this month.

Suu Kyi said she was happy to admit that she wants to become Myanmar's president, and dismissed politicians who pretend they are not hungry for power.

"I would like to be president," she said.

"If you're a politician and you're the leader of a party then you should want to get government power in your hands, that you may be able to work out all these ideas and visions that you've harboured so long for your country."

Like all guests on "Desert Island Discs", the longest-running show on British radio which celebrated its 70th birthday last year, Suu Kyi was asked to choose eight songs she would like to bring to a mythical island as a castaway.

She asked friends and family to choose many of the songs, which included "Imagine" by John Lennon and "Green Green Grass of Home" by Tom Jones.

She confessed that she does not have "a talent for music" but that her younger son Kim has tried to educate her musically, introducing her to reggae legend Bob Marley and the US rock band Grateful Dead.

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