News / Asia

Obama Uses Asia-Pacific Trip to Nudge Burma Toward More Reform

U.S. President Barack Obama has again used a major Asia trip to nudge Burma's  government toward more rapid reforms.  President Obama's remarks calling for further concrete progress in Burma came during an address in Australia about regional security, economic and political progress in the region.

In November of 2010, Obama was making his way through Asia on a 10-day trip that included the world's largest democracy India;  one of the largest emerging Asian democracies, Indonesia;  and stops in South Korea and Japan.

As he departed Washington, there were increasing indications that Burma's military government would end the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party won an overwhelming victory in elections some two decades before.

Burma's ruling generals did release the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  In Japan at the time, Obama issued a statement calling her a hero of his, and he urged the Burmese military to release the estimated 2,000 political prisoners it held, and do more to move toward unconditional dialogue with the opposition.

The president also spoke out about Burma at other stops on his trip, including in a speech to India's parliament and in Indonesia, where he called Burma one of the challenges facing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the world.

Fast forward one year to Obama's current Asia-Pacific trip, which has been designed to help boost U.S. exports and encourage free trade, and his speech in Canberra, setting out his vision of a strong, permanent U.S. security and economic presence.

Standing in Australia's Parliament, the president also drew a connection between prosperity and respect for fundamental human rights in a region he sees as the economic engine for the world.

Obama turned to Burma, where he says U.S. support for basic rights "guided" Washington's approach of using engagement and sanctions to bring about change.

Although there has been progress, he says more needs to be done and that the United States will continue to speak clearly to Burma's government about what those steps are.

"Today, Aung San Suu Kyi is free from house arrest. Some political prisoners have been released.  The government has begun a dialogue," noted the president. "Still, violations of human rights persist. So we will continue to speak clearly about the steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States."

After he was elected in 2008, Obama ordered a review of U.S. policy toward Burma.   In the view of  those in Burma opposition communities around the world urging strong new U.S. pressure, it lasted far too long.

The administration eventually settled on the engagement approach it is still pursuing.  Burma's military has yet to release all political prisoners, although additional releases are expected, and the administration is watching closely for signs of further positive change.

Speaking in Australia, Obama also mentioned Indonesia - which is chairman of ASEAN East Asia Summit in Bali.

Obama said large democracies need to partner with emerging democracies such as Indonesia, to help "strengthen institutions upon which good governance depends."

Analysts say Burma's expected assumption of the rotating chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN - which sponsors the East Asia Summit Obama attends on Friday and Saturday - could produce additional pressure on the Burmese government to speed up reforms.

Burmese President Thein Sein, who is viewed as having pushed reforms ahead in the country, is in Bali. The Burmese government has called on the United States to lift sanctions in place since 1997 - a call backed by other members of ASEAN.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid