by Ray Fleming

The transition of public life in Burma (Myanmar) is extraordinary and unprecedented. It is only four years since its military regime refused offers of aid and assistance from Western governments and non-governent agencies following a devastating hurricane that had left tens of thousands of Burmese without homes or food. About ten years ago Aung San Suu Kyi, then under house arrest, was told she could leave the country to join her dying husband in Britain but had to refuse because she knew she would not be allowed to return to remain the symbol of a return to democracy in her country.

This week David Cameron has been able to invite to her visit Britain this summer with the knowledge that she will be free to return.
It is difficult to know how much the change is yet helping the ordinary people of Burma who have been oppressed for the twenty-five years since the military refused to accept the result of the election that the National League of Democracy had won.

Nor do we know how far the change depends on a single man, President Thein Sein, and how vulnerable he will be if the military junta, perhaps encouraged by China, thinks that change is moving too fast and too far.

Handle with great care is the advice that the West must follow in responding to Burma's quiet revolution.


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