National Geographic : 2011 Aug
burdened with high expectations. Her party is in limbo. Banned for boycotting last year's elec- tion, the NLD now runs the risk of violating the country's restrictive association laws with every gathering it holds. Even with the Children's Day event, says Win Htein, one of Suu Kyi's closest con dants, "we're defying restrictions." From her o ce on the second oor of a build- ing overlooking a busy street near the heart of Yangon, Suu Kyi can see the Special Branch men in the tea shop across the way. "I don't know why they bother," she sighs. Despite a trace of nostalgia for her privacy---"I keep wondering when I'll have time to read and think again," she says---Suu Kyi has thrown herself into a whirlwind of meetings with diplomats, journal- ists, ethnic groups, civic organizations. So far, though, the men she needs to meet most---the Myanmar has an official military, but this is not it. The Kachin Independence Army was mounted by one of the country's 135 ethnic minorities, all of whom prize their identities. The armies seek to maintain the autonomy of their resource-rich homelands in the face of interference from the regime.