President Obama Promises Support for the People of Burma

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 19, 2012
President Obama Delivers a Speech at the University of Yangon
President Obama Is Greeted By Aung San Suu Kyi
President Obama Walks With Aung San Suu Kyi
President Obama Meets With Burmese President Thein Sein

When President Obama arrived in Rangoon on Monday, he became the first sitting president ever to visit Burma -- the Asian nation bordering Thailand, China, and Bangladesh.

For nearly 50 years, from the 1962 to 2011, the country was ruled by a military junta. But over the past year and a half, reform has begun to take root.

"A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself," President Obama said in a speech at the University of Yangon. "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."

Earlier today, President Obama met with President Thein Sein -- one of those helping to usher in reform -- and Aung San Suu Kyi -- the Nobel Prize winning pro-democracy activist. And while much remains to be done, President Obama made clear that the United States stands ready to help the people of Burma as they emerge from decades of isolation.

"Today, I've come to keep my promise and 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. But this remarkable journey 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 this nation's people."

Read the remarks from President Obama and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi here, read the remarks by President Obama and President Thein Sein after their bilateral meeting here. Editor's Note: This entry first appeared on the White House Blog.



Kelley F.
Pennsylvania, USA
November 21, 2012

Kelley F. in Pennsylvania writes:

Thank you President Obama and Team and Secretary Clinton and Team for taking these positive, peace-filled steps in Asia and the Mid East. You are showing "the world" a solid example of cohesiveness and making the vision of interdependence and peace real. My kids and I appreciate your hard work. Thank you.

Maryland, USA
November 21, 2012

Patrick in Maryland writes:

I am happy to see your visit with President Thein Sein, and Aung San Suu Kyi was a good one.

I liked the remarks President Obama made on his visit. Here is two of them I thought were really good.

"I could not be more grateful, not only for your service, Hillary, but also for the powerful message that you and Aung San Suu Kyi send about the importance of women and men everywhere embracing and promoting democratic values and human rights".

"So again, I want to thank you, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, for your extraordinary hospitality and grace; the power of your example, which has been an inspiration to people all around the world, including myself".

Have A Great Thanksgiving ! :)

Cynthia M.
United States
December 31, 2012

Cynthia M. in the U.S.A. writes:

To: Burmese Educators, President Thein Sein, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

When we embrace democratic values and human rights, we sometimes forget that their foundation is rooted in education. I hope that you build a sound educational system, so you can avoid the pitfalls that we have recently stumbled into in our country.

Due to my old age, I've had time to observe many thousands of people. As a former teacher I've had the opportunity to closely observe hundreds of people. What I learned is that we (American educators) no longer emphasize teaching our young how to think logically; nor do we teach them how to dissect and analyze news articles, political statements, and advertisements. It seems to me that a people who are unable to analyze statements, articles, etc. are not properly prepared to defend and support democratic institutions.

I have noticed three problems whose solution is rooted in education. The first is the lack of an ability to analyze what is heard or read. The second is the high number of youths who have entered gangs or who participate in other illegal pursuits. And the third problem is that the majority of our citizens do not actively participate in government at the local level. What these three groups have in common is that they can barely read or are not proficient readers. To have a vibrant civilian population that actively participates in safeguarding civil rights, one must have a literate population. This is something that we seem to have forgotten.

(Background: My first year of teaching I just knew that I was going to be named teacher of the year for the United States, since I had managed to teach students who came into my class reading at first and second grade levels and bring them up to eleventh and twelfth grade or above. I had medical doctors observe my classes to see how I managed to get children with dyslexia to enjoy reading books. I had ambassadors from Israel and Japan spend days observing my classes. I also had children enter the University of Washington without taking any remedial classes. My gang members (Bloods, Crips, ABC’s, and NBC’s) quit their gangs without being asked to quit. In fact, once my children were fluent enough so they could read for the enjoyment of reading, they all quit their illegal activities.)


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