VOA Burmese Blog

January 19, 2012

Burma Gains New Friends

Burma, a country that has been under a rigid military dictatorship for nearly five decades is seemingly on the road to reform. With Western leaders coming in to the country, from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton to French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, Burma’s old foes are looking more like new comrades.

The government recently released 200 political prisoners as part of an amnesty that aligns with the demands that Hillary Clinton made on her trip to Burma. U.S. President Barack Obama says that Burma’s latest action is, “ a substantial step forward for democratic reform”, and the Obama administration responded by saying that it is taking progressive steps to send an Ambassador to Burma.

With news of Burma’s amnesty, Norway also released a statement on the decision that it will lift trade and investment sanctions imposed on the country. A long time critic of the military junta, US Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, visited Burma recently and said that due to country’s steps toward reform, the US may be open for more engagement in the country. McConnell cosponsored the economic sanction against the country, and reminds that the government has to keep its efforts in ending political repression and ethnic persecution.

The Burmese government also made other reforms, ending the world’s longest running civil war. The government signed a cease-fire agreement with the ethnic rebel group, the Karen National Union. The KNU has been fighting for autonomy for over 60 years. However, analysts of Burma are skeptical of the peace agreement, stating that a true end to the conflict will not solidify soon enough.

Although the West has applauded Burma for its reform efforts, critics are skeptical of the country’s intentions, saying that a lot more has to be done in the nation. For now Burma, with its new reform measures – such as granting amnesty, signing the peace agreement with ethnic rebels, giving Internet access and legalizing the main opposition party -is gaining new friends.

Vaclav Havel’s Commemoration

As the world mourns the death of Vaclav Havel, the National Endowment for Democracy honors the life and work of the humanitarian and the former Czech President. Havel led the overthrow of communism and became President of Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He used his voice to advance others’ struggles for freedom- including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.


January 5, 2012

Scholarships for Women and Women’s Education

It is statistically proven that educating young women proves access to economic opportunities for the woman, her family and even her community. Founder of Scholarships for Burma, Kirk Acevedo tells VOA about his organization and his support in empowering people everywhere through education.


Acevedo met a young Burmese woman, Ying who has gone through many hardships in her life and whose one wish was to go to college. 7 months after Acevedo began his foundation, he has collected over $21,000 for Ying to go to college. Ying only needs $6,000 to make her dreams a reality. Watch the video and see why empowering women is access to real equality. You can donate to Scholarships for Burma here: scholarshipsforburma


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