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Aung San Suu Kyi: Arab Spring is an "inspiration" to the Burmese

Burma's Suu Kyi says the protests sweeping the Arab World are an inspiration.

Aung san suu kyi 2011 5 31Enlarge
Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark her father General Aung San's 96th birth anniversary at the National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters in Rangoon, Burma, on February 13, 2011. (Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty Images)

Burma's national hero and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called the protests sweeping the Arab World an "inspiration" to the Burmese people.

“The universal human aspiration to be free has been brought home to us by recent developments in the Middle East. The Burmese are as excited by these events are as people elsewhere,” Suu Kyi said in a BBC radio interview to be broadcast Tuesday, AFP reports.

The interview is part of a series of BBC Reith lectures that Suu Kyi has given.

(More from GlobalPost: Interview: Straight talk from Aung San Suu Kyi)

"Unable to broadcast in Burma, she agreed to meet a small team of BBC journalists and engineers who entered the country illegally in order to record her two lectures and smuggle out the tapes. These were played to a small invited audience in London last week, and at the end Aung San Suu Kyi answered questions live by satellite phone, installed by BBC News," the Guardian reports.

Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by a dictatorship since 1962.

In the interview, Suu Kyi compared the battles in the Middle East against oppressive, authoritarian regimes to her own people's efforts to overthrow their government.

Burmese took to the streets in 1988 and again in 2007 to demand political reform and regime change. Both times, government forces gunned down peaceful demonstrators.

“Why is the Arab Spring an inspiration to the Burmese? Because we have lived it ourselves,” the Nobel laureate said in the interview. “We in Burma envy Egypt’s quick and easy revolution."

The junta freed Suu Kyi in November 2010 after seven straight years of house arrest. Some Burma observers argued the government freed her to distract the international community from the recent fraudulent election.

In the interview, Suu Kyi, 66, makes comparisons between Tunisia's December revolution that overthrew its government, and Burma's protests in 1988, Reuters reports. She said both started with small, seemingly unimportant events that turned into national calls for freedom.

A major difference, she said, is that the Tunisian army did not fire on its own people, whereas the Burmese one did. Tunisia also had more advanced communications.

"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," she said.

Suu Kyi also makes the point in the interviews that she does not hold her supporters to non-violence, the Guardian states.

The Guardian reports that Suu Kyi may be using these BB lectures to inject new energy into her supporters in Burma and abroad.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/110628/aung-san-suu-kyi-arab-spring-inspiration-the-burmese