Why Aug San Suu Kyi is free

The media have been wondering why the military rulers in Myanmar decided to give the Nobel Peace Prize laureate her freedom back. Why she was suddenly allowed to speak up, lead rally’s, show her son -whom she hadn’t seen for decades- around town and give interviews to the international press. Well here is the answer: Myanmar has discovered massive amounts of oil. That’ s nice. But the question is, who is going to offer the expertise needed to drill for the black gold? Which oil company can afford to work with a military dictatorship that jails one of the world’s most popular icons of democracy? The regime in Rangoon had to make a move in order to open the doors for big future wealth. A high prize? Or an excellent marketing trick?

The generals show mercy. Suu Kyi will be able to freely attack them while they sit and let it happen. But they will appear vulnerable only as long as it takes to lure ExxonMobil and BP to their country. See, they are telling the world, Myanmar isn’t that evil after all. And American, European and Chinese greed will take care of the rest.

But beware, opposition: in the meantime the rulers will film the potential enemies, tape phone calls, follow suspects, and make lists of all those who come out of their hiding. And wait till Hit Back Day. State marketing and PR are for the short term and they certainly don’t prepare the road for a revolution. As soon as the billions have been invested in the drilling, meaning the oil companies can hardly withdraw any longer, the rulers will return to their old habits and shut Suu Kyi and her friends behind bars. The generals would rather blow up the wells than surrender them to the people. A tough one for the decision makers in Houston and London? Not really. They know that if they don’t jump on the occasion, the Chinese will. And Chinese don’t think in human rights terms anyway.

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