Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Something Worth Celebrating

Caption: Aung San Suu Kyi gives speech to supporters at Hlaing Thar Yar Township in Yangon, Myanmar on 17 November 2011

Image credit: Htoo Tay Zar/Wikimedia

Every once in a while, somewhere on this planet, the good guys win one:
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi claimed on Monday a by-election landslide for her party, which she hoped would mark the beginning of a new era for Myanmar after a historic vote that could prompt the West to end sanctions.

The charismatic Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who led the struggle against military rule in the former Burma for two decades, was one of 44 candidates her National League for Democracy Party (NLD) said won all but one of the legislative seats being contested.

The by-elections followed a year of astonishing change for a country that was in the grip of military rule for decades: the government has freed hundreds of political prisoners, held talks with ethnic minority rebels, relaxed censorship, allowed trade unions and showed signs of pulling back from the economic and political orbit of giant neighbor China.

Suu Kyi's party claims landslide win in Myanmar vote
I don't know the specifics of Burma's relationship with China, but in other ways, things clearly have changed in what was once one of the most isolated and totalitarian countries in the world. Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle against her own government has been awe-inspiringly heroic:
Aung San Suu Kyi MP AC (Burmese: born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent (now former) political prisoners.

Wikipedia: Aung San Suu Kyi
I think it's fair to say that just about anyone who is interested in human rights issues recognizes her name. She has resisted the dictators in her country for so long that there are people graduating from college who were born after she was first placed under house arrest.

Hard to believe that it's been more than four years since I last wrote about Burma. Back then, it was not looking like anything good was going to happen there for a long time to come.

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma.

(h/t Taylor Marsh)


Jono said...

I hope it's a sign of good things to come for those people. It was hard to imagine she was allowed to win.

Cujo359 said...

There's been a fair bit of international pressure put on Myanmar/Burma in the intervening years, including by the Obama Administration. That may have had something to do with the result. According to the Wiki article I linked, her party has won at least one previous election, which the rulers simply voided. Apparently, tampering with election results was something that they thought either unnecessary or too difficult.