The Burmese government’s stunning shifts inspire cautious optimism

October 18, 2011

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Supporter of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrate her release from house arrest last year.

The Burmese government, one of the most repressive in the world, may be moving toward reform. Last week, authorities pledged to ease harsh censorship laws and released more than 200 political prisoners – with a pledge to release hundreds more. Last month, the government responded to environmental concerns and stopped the construction of a Chinese-backed dam in the north. And authorities has gingerly opened a dialogue with democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was kept under house arrest and barred from political participation for 15 years.

We speak with Maureen Aung-Thwin, director of The Open Society’s Burma Project, about the southeast Asian country's new wave of hope after decades of oppressive military rule.