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September 06, 2011

Burma Journal Publishes Aung San Suu Kyi Commentary

A Burma-based political journal has translated and published a Japanese news column authored by Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, following years of censorship by the authoritarian Burmese government.

This week's edition of Rangoon's New Era political journal published the uncensored Aung San Suu Kyi commentary that first appeared in Tokyo's Mainichi newspaper in July.

The July 19 column described the democracy activist's observations about her recent trip to the Burmese Buddhist city of Bagan.  The trip, made despite government warnings of possible political unrest, was her first excursion outside the capital since her release from eight years of house arrest late last year.

All references to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma's tightly-controlled media had been banned by the military junta that ruled the country for years until giving way to a nominally civilian government earlier this year.

Analysts say publication of the column inside Burma may signal further willingness by Burma's new President Thein Sein to make good on promises to grant opposition forces a voice in the country's nascent political dialogue.

Aung San Suu Kyi held her first meeting with the new president in August, which both parties later described as friendly.  A spokesman for the Nobel laureate's National League for Democracy party later told the Associated press the meeting could mark a possible first step toward national reconciliation.

The new government has in recent weeks also welcomed special United Nations human rights envoy Tomas Quintana to the country, where he met with government officials and was granted permission to meet with opposition leaders.

Western nations which levied sanctions in the past decade against the former junta have linked improved ties with the new government to the release of more than two thousand political prisoners jailed by the former junta and still languishing in Burmese prisons.