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Building Civil Society In Burma


Aung San Suu Kyi, center, is surrounded by supporters after she cuts a ribbon to open the Aung San Jar-mon Library on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, in Bago, Burma.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi recently made her first political trip outside Rangoon since being released from house arrest.

The United States has long encouraged the government of Burma to engage in a meaningful political dialogue with the Southeast Asian nation's democratic opposition and ethnic minorities. An open and respectful discussion of the issues facing the country and its people provide a means toward national reconciliation and a shared way forward.

It is thus that the U.S. takes note that Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi recently made her first political trip outside Rangoon since being released last fall from a lengthy house arrest. She met with supporters in two towns and comforted victims of recent flooding in the region. Despite concerns voiced in the state-controlled media that the trip could incite unrest, she was met by hundreds of peaceful supporters and the events came off without incident. She also participated in the opening of two libraries during her trip to Bago, valuable investments in education and an important contribution to the growth of civil society. In three speeches, Aung San Suu Kyi called for national unity and urged that the people's voice be heard in national affairs.

Beyond her trip, Aung San Suu Kyi also has met with the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Aung Kyi.

Outreach by Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy are an important part of civil society building in Burma. The United States supports such efforts and welcomes initiatives from all parts of Burmese society towards those ends. We continue to call on the Burmese government to ensure that all of its citizens are free to travel, express their views and participate fully in the nation's political activities.

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