Yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi handily won a by-election for a seat in the Burmese Parliament. One could certainly argue that such a headline would have been inconceivable a year and a half ago. Lindsay Murdoch of the Sydney Morning Herald proclaimed, “There will be no silencing Suu Kyi.”
But make no mistake. Burma (or Myanmar – as it called by its military rulers) is still a dictatorship and dictatorships always operate arbitrarily and caprciously. There is nothing to stop the military junta from placing Suu Kyi back under house arrest be it tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. This is exactly what they will do if they believe she threatens their hold on power.
Don’t get me wrong. Her election yesterday was a significant achievement given that the deck was stacked against her. But caution is the operative word so long as her hard work can be wiped out on a whim.