Cameron in Burma

Another day, another Asia blog – but if North Korea are in the naughty corner, Burma is definitely on its way to top of the class status – on the surface at least.

David Cameron was seen meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today, and with President Thin Sein – interesting to note the difference in the grandeur of the settings of the two meetings, shown in these BBC pictures. He publically praised both politicians and made clear his belief that Burma deserved some credit for the path of reform it has embarked on – specifically calling for the lifting of sanctions. He also invited Aung San Suu Kyi to visit the UK this summer.

This morning, on the Today programme, Mike Thomson was embarked on his own tour of Burma and he too made mention of two different Burmese people – this time a father and daughter. He interviewed Generation 88 Leader, and a prisoner that Amnesty has campaigned on, Mya Aye, the father of Waihnin Pwitn Thon, long time Amnesty campaigner.

Mya Aye was freed in the latest round of prisoner releases and Thomson played him the Today programme’s interview with his daughter recorded on the day of his release.  Asked how he felt on hearing Waihnin speak on British radio, Mya Aye replied “I view her as a daughter of Burmese politics rather than my own.”

Mya Aye said he was in favour of reduced sanctions “if the government takes a step back, the sanctions should take a step back” he said. Yet his optimism was not on a par with Cameron’s call for sanctions to be removed “without delay.” There was clearly trepidation about the progress.

Asked how he felt about his own release, Mya Aye said: “I feel no different, we were not unconditionally released. We’ll be put back if and when the authorities think any of our activities are unlawful.”

A deterrent, you might assume to stepping outside the approved margin? Thomson tells him that Waihnin had predicted he would continue his political activism despite the danger of re-arrest. Mya Aye replied: “This is not just my personal view, this is shared by all Generation 88 students. At the current stage we have not actually achieved any democratic goals. All the 88 Generation students will continue to strive for democracy despite the fact we could be returned to jail at any time.”

Brave words. Let’s hope they do not need to be tested in deed.

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