Editorial: Keep up the pressure on Burma

Share
Related Topics

When Barack Obama took office in 2009, a US presidential visit to Rangoon would have been inconceivable. That, only four years later, his tour of Southeast Asia includes a stop in Burma as well as Thailand and Cambodia is testament to the speed of change in the region.

There is much to applaud in Burma's swift progress from international pariah to budding democratic state. Most notably, the Nobel prize-winning democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi is not only no longer under house arrest, but is the official – elected – leader of the opposition. Meanwhile, legal and constitutional reforms are under way and speech is immeasurably more free.

For all the undeniable progress, however, Burma's transformation is still only just beginning. The country may no longer be governed by a military junta, but the generals still have an arbitrary hold on power. Similarly, while hundreds of political prisoners have been released, too many remain behind bars. And then there is the ethnic violence consuming the western state of Rakhine – which has displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims – in which the security forces are implicated.

According to the White House, the aim of Mr Obama's six-hour visit – which includes meetings with both President Thein Sein and Ms Suu Kyi – is to recognise Burma's progress and look for ways that the US can help with further development of democratic institutions.

Mr Obama's motivations do not end there, however.Not only is resource-rich, underdeveloped Burma a temptation for American business. Political ties with Rangoon also fit well with the President's strategic "pivot" to Asia, designed as a counterweight to the rise of China. But Mr Obama must be careful not to allow his political and economic strategy in the region either to blind him to the less-than-perfect reality in Burma or to squander what remaining leverage the international community has to pressurise Burma to reform.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific