She’s a prisoner of conscience for whom home, for six depressing years, was the four walls of a prison cell. That experience has informed Ma Thida‘s work as a human rights activist. On Saturday, Day 3 of the Jaipur Literature Festival, she spoke about her time as a prisoner, and why she feels Aung San Suu Kyi cannot wholly be blamed for the Rohingya tragedy.
Thida was incarcerated by Burma‘s military junta between 1994 and 1999. While life inside was undeniably harsh, her spirit refused to buckle, and she embraced Vipassana meditation to help overcome the dreariness and cruelties of prison existence. Because freedom, she stressed, comes from within.
“I can only rely on myself, I can’t rely on other people, because it’s not they who can give me freedom, or allow me to think freely,” Thida explained. “Having freedom within myself is more important for me, for my life.”
Thida was largely sympathetic to the plight of Suu Kyi, believing it unfair that the Nobel Laureate was being singled out for the persecution of the Rohingya people, and the humanitarian disaster that unfolded in its wake. “It’s a complicated situation, and we have to be careful how we interpret the conflict,” she counseled.
But at the outset, there was always too much expectation and hope placed on Suu Kyi’s shoulders, Thida said.
This has to be borne in mind when anyone assesses her life’s work. “She works under limitations and restrictions that surround her, from herself and her people, from the army and also the international community.”
Besides, it was too much to ask of one person to be a nation’s saviour. “We were wrong in choosing just her to represent our community.” But for all that Myanmar and her people are going through, for all the enemies within, Ma Thida refused to give in to disillusionment. Source : timesofindia