News / Asia

Obama: Burma's Journey an Example for Asia, World

Obama: Burma's Journey an Example for Asia, and Worldi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Dan Robinson
November 19, 2012 1:27 PM
In a historic visit to Burma, U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged the beginning of reforms in the East Asian nation, saying the United States will support democracy efforts, economic development and efforts at national reconciliation. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
Obama: Burma's Journey an Example for Asia, and World
In a historic visit to Burma, U.S. President Barack Obama has acknowledged the beginning of reforms, saying the United States will support democracy efforts, economic development and efforts at national reconciliation.

In a speech at the University of Rangoon, Obama referred to a pledge he made at his presidential inauguration in 2009 to "extend a hand" to governments that ruled by fear if they are ready to "unclench their fist."

He reviewed a long history of U.S. - Burma relations, saying he came because of America's belief in human dignity. He said a dramatic transition is under way in Burma.

"Over the past year and a half, a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.  Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform," said Obama. "A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself."

  • US President Barack Obama, right, waves as he embraces Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence in Rangoon, Burma, Nov. 19, 2012.
  • US President Barack Obama watches as Aung San Suu Kyi center greets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Rangoon, Burma, Nov 19, 2012.
  • US President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Burma's President Thein Sein in Rangoon, Burma, Nov 19, 2012.
  • US President Barack Obama is presented with flowers as he and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, arrive at Rangoon International Airport in Burma, Nov 19, 2012.
  • Crowd cheers as US President Barack Obama arrives at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon, Burma, Nov 19, 2012.
  • A man holds a sign reading: "Help to bring peace" as people line the street to see U.S. President Barack Obama in Burma, Nov. 19, 2012.
  • US President Barack Obama speaks to reporters as he tours Shwedagon Pagoda with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Rangoon, Burma, Nov 19, 2012.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Shwedagon Pagoda with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Rangoon, Burma, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.

The president noted the release of some political prisoners, the National League for Democracy standing in the 2010 election, the banning of forced labor, new economic laws, and preliminary cease-fires with ethnic groups.

Saying he came to extend the hand of friendship, he noted the easing of U.S. sanctions and the appointment of a U.S. ambassador. But he cautioned that Burma has much further to go.

“This remarkable journey has just begun, and has much further to go," he said. "Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation. The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished, they must be strengthened, they must become a shining North Star for all this nation’s people."

The president listed freedoms the Burmese people should have, including freedom of assembly, worship and expression. He called for an end to media censorship.

Obama drew applause twice, once when he said no reform process can succeed without national reconciliation with ethnic groups. He also called for an end to violence against Rohingyas in Burma's Rakhine state.
President Obama's stops in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.President Obama's stops in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.
x
President Obama's stops in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.
President Obama's stops in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied Obama to Burma. Their motorcade drove down a road lined with thousands of people, including students holding U.S. and Burmese flags, and signs reading "Mr. Obama we love you."

​At the parliament building, Obama met with President Thein Sein, a former general who has led reform steps.

"I shared with President Thein Sein our belief that the process of reform that he is taking is one that will move this country forward," he said.

In translated remarks, the Burmese president said relations had some disappointments and obstacles over the past two decades, but are now being repaired.

"I would like to reiterate our commitment to continue cooperation to strengthen our bilateral relations in the years to come," he said.

At the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, Obama praised her as a brave fighter for democracy. She said ongoing reforms will face difficult challenges.

Obama: "I especially want to thank Aung San Suu Kyi for welcoming me to her home. Here, through so many difficult years is where she displayed such unbreakable courage and determination. It is here where she showed that human freedom and dignity cannot be denied."

Suu Kyi: "The most difficult time in any transition is when we think that success is in sight. Then we have to be very careful that we are not lured by a mirage of success and that we are working toward genuine success for our people and for the friendship between our two countries."

In his speech, President Obama said Burma can serve as "a test of whether a country can transition to a better place" and as an example to others in the region.

"Here in Rangoon, I want to send a message across Asia: we don't need to be defined by the prisons of the past. We need to look forward to the future," he stated. "To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice: let go of your nuclear weapons, and choose the path of peace and progress. If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America."

In his Rangoon speech, Obama referred to the title of an essay and book by Aung San Suu Kyi: "Freedom from Fear."

The Burmese people, he said, are showing the world that fear does "not have to be the natural state of life in their country."

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: menolie from: Eudora Kansas, U.S.A.
November 19, 2012 8:18 PM
Good luck with North Korea Mr. President.


by: Anonymous
November 19, 2012 9:29 AM
good


by: Anonymous
November 19, 2012 9:08 AM
good


by: Paris Tun from: Yangon
November 19, 2012 8:08 AM
Simply, as a myanmar citizen, i hope that good relationships with US will mean, more investments from US and more job opportunities for us. Esp, english translator or interpretor posts. My heart sinks whenever i look at the job ads which is full of vacancies for chinese or japenese translators.


by: zaw htet from: Myanmar
November 19, 2012 7:37 AM
Welcomes to OBAMA.You are one of grate person i admire.


by: Rabbani from: England, UK
November 19, 2012 6:15 AM
Thank you for your opinion. Your comment will appear only after we think it is the same as our opinion


by: Rabbani from: England
November 19, 2012 6:13 AM
Anyone ever wonder why USA is so interested in Burmas? USA has no History what so ever with Burma!!!!!!, oh I know an initial disgusting step to have a presence to destabalise China, NASTY, people google or Yahoo to find the facts!!!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid