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A few months ago the Burmese government decided to let a prominent dissident out of jail. One of the first things he did when he got out was to demand freedom for one of his jailers.
As Myanmar emerges from a half-century of isolation under a dictatorship, President Thein Sein's new civilian government has launched a series of reforms. At the top of the list is the eradication of widespread opium poppy farming. Myanmar produced an estimated 610 tons of opium in 2011, making it the world's second-biggest supplier after Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Aung San Suu Kyi has given the Burmese authorities the cold shoulder after being warned not to refer to the country as "Burma." "I call my country ‘Burma' as we did a long time ago. I'm not insulting other people.
The world keeps being surprised by the developing political situation in Myanmar/Burma.
One sweltering day in August of last year, Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi arrived for the first time in the capital of her country.
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It's campaign season in Burma, but the scenes unfolding along the seemingly endless road between Rangoon and Mawlamyine, 300 kilometers (188 miles) to the southeast, suggest a quasi-religious expectation of salvation, not unlike the response to the Dalai Lama when he visits Tibetan communities in Western countries.
RANGOON -- Yesterday, on the day of the long-awaited election, I decided to return to Independence Ward, the Rangoon neighborhood I wrote about in my piece last week on the difficult choices facing Aung San Suu Kyi.
YANGON, Myanmar – The most visible sign of Myanmar's recent opening can be seen on the walls of the city's monasteries and tea shops, on its newsstands and on the dashboards of its battered taxi cabs. Portraits of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi -- once a ticket to arrest and interrogation by the military authorities -- are now displayed openly around Yangon, the country's largest city and former capital.
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Burma is at a crossroads. While the country's dramatic (and fragile) political opening is receiving plenty of attention, its leaders are also confronting some stark decisions about their economic future. After decades of economic isolation, the economy of Burma (also known as Myanmar) is badly in need of reforms than can better promote development.
Earlier this month, when the indefatigable Aung San Suu Kyi assumed a seat in Burma's parliament, her diminutive figure was almost lost in a sea of military uniforms. On April 1, she and her National League for Democracy (NLD) won 43 of the 45 seats up for grabs in an unprecedented parliamentary by-election. The arrival of the NLD members in parliament marks the first time in many decades that pro-democracy activists have had a chance to participate in government.
It’s not China—not even close Shwedagon Pagoda, Rangoon, Burma / Photo: racoles As it has become clear that Western sanctions on Burma will be dropped, the once-sleepy city of Rangoon has become like a gold rush village. The few business-class hotels in the city centre, once so empty you could walk whole floors without seeing anyone, are now taking reservations months in advance. Every day, business delegations tour Rangoon and Naypyidaw, the capital.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph RANGOON – Across the Middle East, and now in Burma (Myanmar), one of the great questions of contemporary global politics has resurfaced: How can countries move from a failing authoritarianism to some form of self-sustaining pluralism?