by Brian Lee, ’17
It has been two years now since President Obama paid a visit to the politically torn country of Burma. During the time since the President’s visit, the message of democratic ideals that he carried forth paved the way for recovery in Burma. Stimulated by this movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader to the longstanding government in Burma, was able to push from under house arrest into the frontlines of political action.
Now, two years later, Aung San Suu Kyi and her opponent met not as starting partners in the ongoing fight for democracy but as battle-hardened politicians. Even in light of President Obama’s continued vow to stay alongside Aung San Suu Kyi in her struggle, there are issues that the president has had to come to terms with in the past week. As noted by an article in the Washington Post last week, the President made this point explicitly clear:
“The goal of the United States here is to be a strong partner in the process,” the president said. “We’ll praise what works, and there are times when we’ll offer constructive criticism about a lack of progress in certain areas or where progress has stalled. But our consistent aim and goal will be to see that this transition is completed.”
This criticism comes in the same week that a harsh resolution was delivered by Burma’s parliamentary speaker on the matter of Aung San Suu Kyi’s potential run for president. Completely neglecting any pre-election modifications made to the country’s constitution, the resolution bars the rising female politician on terms of violating the rule that prohibits a leader from having either a spouse or children from foreign countries. Not only has this resolution elicited the attention of the pro-Suu Kyi President Obama, it also prompted him to urge Burmese authorities to protect the Rohingya and other Muslim minorities in the country, who continue to suffer from persecution from other ethnic groups inside Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s fight for universal freedom in Burma continues despite the stumbling blocks in the path of her run for the presidency. However, she still faces tough prompting from President Obama, because while she may have proven strong in the face of a traumatizing house arrest, she appears to be too cautious on the affairs of the Rohingya people and other minorities.