I listened avidly this evening to the first of two BBC Reith lectures, ‘securing freedom’, delivered in a clandestine recording by Aung San Suu Kyi about her pro-democracy campaign and in particular the inter-relationship between liberty and dissent. You can listen to the lecture here. It was a humbling experience, knowing how much she has sacrificed personally. ‘We have done as much as I think any party could do under the circumstances,’ she said at the end of her talk. If she has succeeded only in keeping dissent alive for dissent’s own sake then that, she argued, is an important achievement in its own right. In the ensuing question-and-answer session, a learned admirer in the audience, Timothy Garton Ash, observed that it frequently seems easier to rationalise the motives of those who cooperate with oppressive regimes than those who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, resist and yet, mysterious though it is, such spirited resistance is a vital democratic force. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lecture – calm, measured, rational – was in the best spirit of ahimsa and satyagraha and she certainly stands in the same ranks as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.