Havel on Suu Kyi

Vaclav Havel pays tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi and the nonviolent struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.

He writes:

There are many politicians in the free world who favor seemingly pragmatic cooperation with repressive regimes. During the time of communism, some Western politicians preferred to appease the Czechoslovak thugs propped up by Soviet tanks rather than sustain contacts with a bunch of dissidents. These status-quo Western leaders behaved, voluntarily, much like those unfortunate people who were forced to participate in the massive government rallies: They allowed a totalitarian regime to dictate to them whom to meet and what to say. At that time, people such as the French president, Francois Mitterrand, and the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Max van der Stoel, saved the face of the Western democracies by speaking and acting clearly. By the same token, politicians such as Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople redeem the Asian reputation by not hesitating to speak the truth. The regime in Burma is, as a matter of fact, the disgrace of Asia, just as Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus is the disgrace of Europe and Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba of Latin America.

It’s nice to see Havel singling out for praise the Socialist Mitterand, who received his share of knocks– fairly and unfairly– toward the end of his life. It would be interesting to know which “status-quo Western leaders” he has in mind, but I suppose we can guess.