Myanmar: Is Democracy Here?

I have long been admirer of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy, Nobel peace prize winning figure who has tirelessly stood against decades of oppression in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Now the question can be asked: Is Democracy finally here for the Burmese?

Ruling Party Admits Defeat

Myanmar’s past has been marred with tyrannical, junta rule since 1962 when General Ne Win over-through the elected government of U Nu and instituted a socialistic military state. The government’s brutality is well-documented, including the crushing of the 1988 student democracy movement in which Suu Kyi, daughter of martyred revolutionary leader Aung San, saw herself put into an improbable position of standing up the junta. Her actions forced the government into a 1990 election which the NLD (The National League of Democracy) easily won. The military rule voided the results, rounded up its critics and put Suu Kyi under house arrest for many of the next 18 years. Her entire back story including the story of how she juggled family life while fighting for democracy was the subject  of the gripping film “The Lady.”

Over the past five years, the government’s stance had softened. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, and was reinstated as a political leader of the opposition. The election of this past week points to the first possible free election since before the 1962 coup. If the government does indeed yield to the results which point to a tremendous win for the NLD, then perhaps Myanmar has indeed turned a corner.

For the sake of all of the people of the country, here’s hoping that it is so.


A (Motion) Picture of Courage

I’ve long been an admirer of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader in Burma (Myanmar) who was held for nearly 18 years under house arrest by the military junta who took over the country in a successful coup attempt in 1962.

Last evening I had a chance to see “The Lady”, director Luc Besson’s highly engrossing retelling of her story.

If you have an opportunity to see “The Lady”, don’t miss it.

Michelle Yeoh is remarkably good and believable playing Suu Kyi.  The dual focus storyline is how Suu Kyi, the daughter of assassinated general Aung San who helped lead Burma to independence int he 1940s,  rises to national prominence in the face of student led protests in 1988.  The story is also a love story of sacrifice as we see the tremendous burden her love for her country put on her supportive English husband and her two sons each of whom had to spend years apart from their mother while she was under house arrest.

This top-notch storytelling also reminded me of the blessings of freedom that we enjoy each day which we should not take for granted.

Fighting for democracy is worth it.  But successfully fighting for democracy using non-violence and steel courage in the face of one of the most repressive regimes on earth is all the more admirable.

See the movie!