Towards a Burmese spring

How much difference a year can make! The walls of closed society seem to be falling in Burma. But will the army remain silent?

Change is in the air in Burma, according to many in Rangoon. Though how long until the winds shift remains an open question. 'There's definitely a Burmese Spring here,' said a senior member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), on condition of anonymity. 'But whether it's only an illusion, a false dawn as we have had many times before, only time will tell.' Nonetheless, many in the pro-democracy movement within Burma are optimistic, believing that the new president, Thein Sein, is serious about economic and political change. Critically, this is a process that seems to include Suu Kyi herself, though for the moment it is very unclear what role she may play.

Recent months have seen the continual unveiling of signs that the country's new quasi-civilian government is trying to pursue a genuine transition to democracy of some sort. The release of more than 200 political prisoners, including the renowned comedian Zarganar, was one of the most recent, and most significant, signals that the new government is serious about political reform. According to a senior government minister on condition of anonymity, preparations are underway for the release of at least 200 more political detainees as well.

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Himal Southasian