Burma’s military government released pro-democracy activist and naturalized American citizen Nyi Nyi Aung from prison, a month after he was sentenced to a three-year term. State media described his early release as a goodwill gesture toward the United States and a response to a request by the U.S. State Department. “It’s certainly a welcome development, but it falls far short of calls by the U.S. and the broader international community for the release of the more than 2,100 political prisoners currently being held in the country, including Aung San Suu Kyi,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies. “Burma’s leaders have a history of making such gestures when they are facing heightened international pressure -- such as the current controversy around the release of new election laws, which are widely viewed as illegitimate, and the call by a U.N. envoy for an inquiry into crimes against humanity by the Burmese government. Regardless of the real motivation, the Obama administration should view Nyi Nyi Aung’s release as an opening to ramp up direct communications with Burma’s senior generals and press for political and economic reform.”
Suzanne, who is based in New York, is Director of Asia Society’s Task Force on U.S. Policy toward Burma/Myanmar, which is co-chaired by General Wesley Clark and former Administrator of USAID Henrietta Fore.
The global launch of the Task Force report will be held at events on March 31 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., and at the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies in Manila, and on April 7 at the Asia Society in New York and at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in New Delhi.
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