A Look At Burma’s Recent Political Reforms

Posted December 1st, 2011 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds unprecedented talks with government officials and opposition leaders in Burma, here is a look back at some of the democratic reforms in the country during the past eight months:

March 30: Burma ends decades of military rule, inaugurating a nominally civilian government that consists of many retired and serving soldiers. Prime Minister Thein Sein, a former military general, becomes the country's first civilian president in half a century.

May 17: Burma begins releasing more than 14,000 prisoners under a limited clemency program. Critics argue the move had little impact on the thousands of political prisoners still being held in the country.

July 5: Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is greeted by hundreds of supporters amid tight security in the ancient temple city of Bagan, in her first trip outside her home since being released from seven years of house arrest for opposing the country's military leadership.

July 25: Aung San Suu Kyi holds her first known official meeting with a member of Burma's government.

August 14: Aung San Suu Kyi visits the northern towns of Bago and Thanatpin in her first overtly political trip since her house arrest. The 66-year-old activist calls for unity and asks crowds to support her National League for Democracy party, which was disbanded before general elections last year.

August 19: Aung San Suu Kyi holds her first meeting with President Thein Sein in the secluded capital city of Naypyitaw, in what was hailed by some as a first step towards reconciliation between the government and her NLD party.

September 6: Burma's government establishes a national human rights commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses.

September 9: U.S. Special Envoy to Burma Derek Mitchell holds talks with government officials about conditions under which U.S. sanctions could be lifted.

September 29: Burma's foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin makes rare visit to Washington to meet with senior government officials.

September 30: Burma suspends the construction of a controversial, Chinese-backed hydroelectric dam, in a rare gesture to environmentalists and the country's opposition pro-democracy movement.

October 8: Burma's censorship chief calls for greater press freedom as part of the reforms by the new army-dominated civilian government.

October 12: Nearly 200 jailed dissidents are freed as part of a mass amnesty. The most prominent freed dissident is popular Burmese comedian Zarganar, who was sentenced to 59 years in prison after accusing the government of a sluggish response to a 2008 cyclone.

November 17: Regional leaders approve Burma's bid to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

November 18: Citing “flickers of progress” from the Burmese government, U.S. President Barack Obama announces he will send Hilary Clinton to Burma for the first visit to the country by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. The move comes as the NLD decides to re-register as a political party and take part in future elections.

November 30: Clinton arrives in Naypyitaw for three days of talks, including scheduled meetings with Burmese President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi.