|Suu Kyi says an Arab Spring-style uprising is not the answer to Myanmar’s problems [AFP]
Democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi has said there are finally signs of political change in Myanmar after decades of military rule, but its long-suffering people are still far from real freedom.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner told the AFP news agency that the new government appears genuine in its desire for democratic reform, and said an Arab Spring-style uprising is not the answer to the country’s problems.
“There have been changes, but I don’t think we’re all free or completely free yet. There’s still quite a way to go, but I think there have been positive developments,” the opposition leader said at her party offices in Myanmar.
“I’ve always said I’m a cautious optimist and I remain a cautious optimist. I do believe that the president would like to bring about positive changes but how far he’ll be able to achieve what he wants to achieve is a question that we still need to examine.”
After almost half a century of iron-fisted military rule, the junta in March handed power to a new government led by Thein Sein, the current president.
The November vote, won by the military’s political proxies, was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and the exclusion of Suu Kyi, who was released from seven straight years of house arrest shortly afterward.
In recent weeks, however, the new administration has shown signs of reaching out to critics including Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, which won a 1990 election but was never allowed to take office.
The regime has adopted a more conciliatory stance towards its opponents, including Suu Kyi, who met Thein Sein last month.
Arab Spring uprisings
In reference to a question about uprisings in the Middle East, Suu Kyi said that an Arab-style uprising would not solve Myanmar’s problems.
Social networking sites were used by anti-government demonstrators to thwart censorship during pro-democracy revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.
During a failed monk-led uprising in Myanmar in 2007, citizens used the internet to leak extensive accounts and video to the outside world, prompting the regime to block web access.
On Friday, Myanmar’s government was allowing access to banned news websites, including several operated by exiled dissidents.
Internet users in Myanmar during the week said they were able to see previously blocked media websites, including the Burmese-language version of the BBC, but doubts remained about whether the move would last.
The country’s internet legislation has long been among the world’s most repressive, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.