Next week, Aung San Suu Kyi will be making her second visit to the US since she was released from house arrest. She now has the title of Foreign Minister for her country. She is coming to ask that sanctions on Myanmar be eased after being one of the strongest voices for those sanctions years ago while the country was under the very tight control or a military junta that kept the country one of the poorest and least developed in all of Asia.
I visited Burma in 1969 shortly after a change in policy that allowed a 2-week tourist visa after many years of being closed to visitors. I saw for myself the hardships visited on the people by the "Burmese path to socialism" which meant that everyone was equally destitute except for a handful of military top brass. Over the years, I became acquainted with many refugees and asylees here who had escaped the brutal regime. Many had done nothing more than take part in university student protests. I was aware of the situation of Aung San Suu Kyi and wass a friend of a friend of her husband who died while she was still unable to travel and also the separation from her son for many years.
This was one of the horrors that was among the many that were going on. It got the attention of Laura Bush and hers was one of the few voices protesting the human rights abuses that were intensified in this crack down. The US increased the sanctions against the government.n August 2007, an increase in the price of diesel and petrol led to the Saffron Revolution led by Buddhist monks that were dealt with harshly by the government. The government cracked down on them on 26 September 2007. The crackdown was harsh, with reports of barricades at the Shwedagon Pagoda and monks killed. There were also rumours of disagreement within the Burmese armed forces, but none was confirmed. The military crackdown against unarmed protesters was widely condemned as part of the international reactions to the Saffron Revolution and led to an increase in economic sanctions against the Burmese Government.
Then, Obama was elected and Hillary Clinton became the Secretary of State. For the first time in more than half a century, the direction began to change.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar#M ... .932011.29Since the 2010 election, the government has embarked on a series of reforms to direct the country towards liberal democracy, a mixed economy, and reconciliation, although doubts persist about the motives that underpin such reforms. The series of reforms includes the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, the granting of general amnesties for more than 200 political prisoners, new labour laws that permit labour unions and strikes, a relaxation of press censorship, and the regulation of currency practices.
The impact of the post-election reforms has been observed in numerous areas, including ASEAN's approval of Myanmar's bid for the position of ASEAN chair in 2014; the visit by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2011 for the encouragement of further progress, which was the first visit by a Secretary of State in more than fifty years, during which Clinton met with the Burmese president and former military commander Thein Sein, as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi; and the participation of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party in the 2012 by-elections, facilitated by the government's abolition of the laws that previously barred the NLD. As of July 2013, about 100 political prisoners remain imprisoned, while conflict between the Burmese Army and local insurgent groups continues.
I believe that President Obama and Secretary Clinton had a great deal to do with these changes and I also give credit to Laura Bush and the attention she brought to the conditions there. I was very moved by the picture of President Obama and Secretary Clinton on their visit to Myanmar. I was overjoyed that Aung Sang Suu Kyi could be released from house arrest and play a part in the government at long last. It was a thrill to see my friends here excited about her visit to California and that they could finally go home to visit their families.
Now she will return to ask that the sanctions be reconsidered. As the President and Mrs. Clinton have been trying to remind us, we should be aware of China and their spreading sphere of influence in Asia over such countries as Myanmar. We need a president who understands the history and the how important our relations with these small countries are.
This is one of the many things I give credit to President Obama and Secretary Clinton for making the world a better and safer place.