News

    US Encouraged About Burma Reforms

    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) walks after a parliament session in the lower house of parliament, in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 2, 2012.
    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) walks after a parliament session in the lower house of parliament, in Naypyitaw, Burma, May 2, 2012.

    The United States sees opportunities for greater political reform in Burma, following the opposition's decision to join parliament. U.S. offers of assistance have been tied to further political change in the Southeast Asian country.

    Burma's opposition National League for Democracy has taken newly won seats in an assembly where one-quarter of the posts are reserved for the military and a large majority of others are held by Burma's military-backed ruling party.

    It marks the first public office for Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who dropped threats to boycott parliament over an oath pledging to safeguard a constitution drafted by the military.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said it is a hopeful sign that pro-democracy activists and the government can work together to keep up the momentum of political change in Burma.

    "We want to see them work constructively with the government. We want to see the progress continue. And in terms of any rolling back, I think we are going to keep a close eye on the progression of these reforms in Burma," said Toner.

    In easing some U.S. sanctions against Burma, Toner said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was very clear that Washington will match action for action as further changes are made.

    Asia analyst Doug Bandow of the Washington-based Cato Institute said the voices of opposition lawmakers in Burma's parliament are far more important than the oath they took to get there.

    "The longer they go, the harder it is to put it all back in, and to my mind the oath was not the battle to fight. What worries me most is that you have got these hard-line generals, I presume, in the background, who really do not like any of this stuff, that what you want to convince them is that it is safe to proceed. Now if I am Aung San Suu Kyi, I want to change the constitution, but I do not make that front and center today," said Bandow.

    Political change in Burma is part of this week's talks between U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing. Bandow said the decision by Burma's military to allow greater freedoms of speech and assembly appears based, in part, on tensions with China, including Burma's decision to suspend construction of a $3-billion Chinese-backed hydroelectric dam because of environmental concerns raised by civilian activists.

    "Clearly part of it is this sense that the only real firm support they have is China. It is right next door. They have run into these issues about this dam. They have had the war in Burma that has pushed people into China. China has gotten very upset. I think they suddenly say, 'Maybe we need a little more maneuvering room. So if we are engaged with the U.S. and the E.U., suddenly there are other places we can go, more money coming in,'" said Bandow.

    When Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 40 of the 45 seats available in a parliamentary by-election, the United States eased a number of sanctions. Some senior Burmese officials and parliament members now will be allowed to visit the United States.

    Washington has lifted its ban on the export of U.S. financial services and investment, and is preparing to nominate an ambassador to Rangoon, along with a full U.S. Agency for International Development mission and a normal country program for the United Nations Development Program.

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.