With Suu Kyi Free, What’s Next for Burma?

THIS WEEKEND’S JOYOUS SCENES FOLLOWING THE RELEASE of Aung San Suu Kyi were followed by hard questions about what’s next for Burma.

Image © irrawaddy.com

At the first news conference since being released, Suu Kyi spoke of national reconciliation and called for a meeting with General Than Shwe. Whether that will be possible and what might come of any talks remains to be seen.

At the very least, the world seems aware now of the situation in Burma. Perhaps after witnessing Suu Kyi’s release this weekend, people who had never heard of Aung San Suu Kyi, Than Shwe, or the oppressive military state will be inspired to support the people of Burma.

Now it’s a matter of trying to predict a situation that is beyond the merely political.

There are many factors and influences at play—including the threat of civil war, what role China will play (according to press reports, Chinese investment in Burma is 8 billion dollars). That China is a not exactly an open, democratic society doesn’t bode well for increased political freedoms.

With the economic power China holds over so many nations’ heads, human rights is certain to be all but excluded from the conversation. Who then in the international community can be counted on as an ally for the Burmese people? Will any country in the West put human rights before trade and profits?

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