It is amazing the ends to which a despotic regime will go to stifle opposition to it.
The current trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the main opposition leader to the generals ruling the country formerly known as Burma is a prime example.
That is not to say that she does not constitute formidable opposition to Myanmar's generals, currently ruling under the name State Peace and Development Council, in power now since 1962. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won the country's most recent elections, held in 1990, which resulted in her having been kept under house arrest for the most part ever since. Her father, Gen. Aung San, was considered the father of his country's independence, although he was a controversial figure who was ultimately assassinated.
The generals have scheduled elections of a sort for Myanmar for next year and would like to have Ms. Suu Kyi, 63, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, off the scene for them.
To that end, they have taken a very strange incident involving an American as reason for putting her on trial, charged with having broken the terms of her house arrest. On the night of May 3, John Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake adjacent to Ms. Suu Kyi's residence, turning up on her doorstep saying he was too tired to swim back. From politeness she and her staff took him in, thus opening herself up to charges that she had violated a "no unauthorized foreign or overnight visitors" clause in the terms of her house arrest.
The weird part is that Mr. Yettaw had with him a collection of articles, including two signal lights, black Muslim women's robes and swimming goggles, that someone with a vivid imagination or advanced paranoia about the CIA might think could be used by the Myanmar opposition leader in a reverse swim across the lake to freedom. Her lawyer has described Mr. Yettaw as "a fool."
The guess is that the Myanmar court will find Ms. Suu Kyi guilty and extend her house arrest by five years, until well past next year's elections.
What the military junta, led by Senior Gen. Than Shwe, doesn't seem to grasp is that persecuting Ms. Suu Kyi serves no purpose in terms of reducing her popularity among the Myanmar population and only improves her party's prospects in the elections. In spite of wishing the generals ill, as we must, they are dishonest despots with no respect for democracy or human rights, it is nevertheless the case that the best outcome of this trial would be for the Myanmar government to dismiss the case, basically laughing the charges against her out of court.