“You're taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people. This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place."
“Over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip,” President Barack Obama said recently in a speech to university students in Rangoon, Burma. “The desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform. A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself. The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned. Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy.”
“Even though we come from different places, we share common dreams: to choose our leaders; to live together in peace; to get an education and make a good living; to love our families and our communities,” President Obama told the Burmese students. “That’s why freedom is not an abstract idea; freedom is the very thing that makes human progress possible -- not just at the ballot box, but in our daily lives.”
“I’ve come to . . . extend the hand of friendship,” President Obama said. “America now has an Ambassador in Rangoon, sanctions have been eased, and we will help rebuild an economy that can offer opportunity for its people, and serve as an engine of growth for the world.”
“You're taking a journey that has the potential to inspire so many people. This is a test of whether a country can transition to a better place,” President Obama continued. “But this remarkable journey [for Burma] has just begun, and has much further to go. Reforms launched from the top of society must meet the aspirations of citizens who form its foundation. The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished -- they must be strengthened; they must become a shining North Star for all [of] this nation’s people.”
“The road ahead will be marked by huge challenges, and there will be those who resist the forces of change,” said President Obama. “But. . .something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed, and the will of the people can lift up this nation and set a great example for the world. . .And the United States will be a friend to any nation that respects the rights of its citizens and the responsibilities of international law.”