(Photo: Saul Loeb/Reuters)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mynamar, formerly Burma, brought encouragement for the country’s continued movement towards freedom.
Clinton landed in Myanmar yesterday and met with newly elected President Thein Sein. He was elected in March after years of military rule that resulted in severe human rights violations and sanctions from the United States. The country is in the midst of change and it has freed many of its political prisoners.
“It is encouraging that political prisoners have been released, but over 1000 are still not free. Let me say publicly what I said privately earlier today: No person in any country should be detained for exercising universal freedoms of expression, assembly and conscience,” said Clinton.
Aung San Suu Kyi was a political prisoner for over 20 years. She met with Clinton yesterday. Suu Kyi is a Nobel peace laureate whose outspoken views on democracy led to her imprisonment.
Now free, Suu Kyi plans to run for parliament in the next elections. In a phone call to reporters, Suu Kyi said, “I think we have to be prepared to take a risk.”
She received a letter from President Obama that stated: “Thank you for the inspiration you provide all of us around the world who share the values of democracy, human rights, and justice. We stand with you now and always.”
Clinton discussed the possibility of the U.S. easing sanctions against Myanmar, provided the government continues to release prisoners and work towards freedom for everyone. The sanctions were enacted after World War II.
According to a report by Michael F. Martin of the Congressional Research Committee, the sanctions were due to “general disregard by the Burmese military for the human rights and civil liberties of the people of Burma.”
Clinton will meet with “members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, representatives of ethnic groups, and civil society organizations” on Friday, according to the State Department.