News / Asia

US Official Meets Burma's Detained Democracy Leader

The top U.S. diplomat on East Asia has met with Burma's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the military government's controversial election plans.  The diplomat also met with senior members of the now-defunct National League for Democracy and government representatives.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell met with Aung San Suu Kyi at a state guesthouse.  Burma's democracy leader has been held under house arrest for most of the past 20 years.

They discussed Burma's controversial elections, which are expected later this year, the first in 20 years.

Critics dismiss the elections as a sham designed to keep the military in power.  But some Burmese activists and regional analysts say the vote may be a step forward toward greater political reform.

Campbell's meeting came just days after Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy was dissolved under strict election laws.  He met earlier with about 10 members of the NLD who urged Washington to get tougher with Burma.

A senior member of the group, Win Tin, says Aung San Suu Kyi supports their position.

"We and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have almost the same opinion about the political situation in Burma now, nowadays," said Win Tin.  "So, I think you see the only way out is to have some more tougher economic and political action against the government.  So, she certainly will have the same opinion like us."

The election laws forced parties to expel imprisoned members, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and participate in the elections or be made illegal.

The National League for Democracy refused and was dissolved on Friday.

Some former NLD members created a new party, called the National Democratic Force to contest the elections.

One NDF member, Khin Maung Swe, told Campbell the new party thinks the elections, flawed as they are, will be the best bet for changing to a democratic government.

"If we do not contest in the election ... there is no democratic force in the parliament as the opposition forces.  So, at that time they can do anything they like.  ... So, that we choose the way to contested in the election," said Khin Maung Swe.  "There is the only chance for us to make a way toward the democratic transition.  But, not in a day."

The NLD won Burma's last elections in 1990, but the military ignored the results and harassed and jailed hundreds of party members.

Campbell also met with representatives of the government, but not top leader General Than Shwe.

The government has not yet announced a date for the elections, but it is already guaranteed more than a quarter of parliamentary seats under its 2008 constitution.

Last year, the United States began senior-level engagement with Burma's government after years of isolation.  But, Washington says sanctions will be maintained against Burma until there is visible progress on democracy and human-rights issues.  

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More