News / Asia

US Will Post Ambassador in Burma; Move Follows Prisoner Release

A woman hugs her son who came out of Myanmar's Insein prison in Rangoon, Burma, January 3, 2012.
A woman hugs her son who came out of Myanmar's Insein prison in Rangoon, Burma, January 3, 2012.

The United States, for the first time in two decades, announced Friday that it will post an ambassador to Burma, which earlier in the day freed hundreds of political prisoners. A series of reforms in Burma has prompted Washington to change how it deals with the country.

U.S. President Barack Obama calls Burma's decision to release hundreds of political prisoners "a substantial step forward for democratic reform."

The Burmese government freed 651 prisoners on Friday. The release is in line with conditions for improving relations with Washington that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear during a visit last month.

Following the prisoner release, Clinton said on Friday that the U.S. will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma.

"As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin," she said.

But Obama and Clinton both said that more political reforms need to happen in Burma.

Clinton says Washington will continue to urge Burma’s government to take “bold steps” to build a free and prosperous nation.

Washington withdrew its ambassador more than 20 years ago, after the military council ruling Burma at the time ignored the results of the opposition’s overwhelming victory in the 1990 election.

The U.S. and many other governments, including the European Union, have long imposed economic and travel sanctions on Burma, considered one of the most repressive nations in the world.

An election in 2010 brought in a civilian government, although one backed by the military.

That new government has made several reforms, including easing media restrictions and allowing greater civil liberties.

Photo Gallery: Burma prisoner release

This week the government also signed a ceasefire with the ethnic minority Karen rebels.

In addition, Burma’s government is allowing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for parliament April 1. Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy, has spent most of the past 22 years jailed or under house arrest.

Burma hopes the prisoner release and the peace deal will help improve relations with the international community.

David Mathieson, with Human Rights Watch, says the release is important.

"You're talking about quite a comprehensive list of prominent political activists, journalists, labor activists, Buddhist monks and former members of the government," he said. "So this is really quite a significant release."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the prisoner release and the cease-fire with the rebels. He said he hoped the freed political activists will be able to contribute to national reconciliation.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid