Posts Tagged ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’

Hillary begins this chapter  by revisiting a speech she delivered in 2009 to the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) on Burma signaling her determination to pursue renewed relations with that long-spurned country based on reforms.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on Engagement with Burma

Early on she clarifies that while the generals preferred the name Myanmar, she, in Hard Choices,  would refer to the country as Burma.  Except where State Department communiqués opted to use Myanmar, I have remained consistent with her choice – not a hard one – of Burma.

Those who contend that she never chose or pursued a signature issue or agenda as secretary of state (and then grudgingly admit that issues confronting women and girls was, OK, sort of a signature issue but a ‘soft’ one) would do well to remember this initiative very early in her tenure.  The Pacific was the region to which the administration had pivoted, and Hillary chose to seek engagement with a country she hoped would eventually be able to lead its neighbors by example.  Not a soft choice at all.  A hard one.  (But have it your way, chauvinistic burgher kings of foreign policy.)

A State Department memo warned traveling staff that three colors were to be avoided in Burma.  One was white. Hillary states that these cultural issues are often addressed in memos prior to travel.  She had a new white jacket that was exactly the right weight for the climate and hesitated, brought it along anyway, and upon landing the entire traveling party discovered that the memo had been inaccurate so she wore it when she first met Aung Sang Suu Kyi.  As it turned out they were dressed exactly alike.  Even the hair was the same.  This first meeting took place at the chief U.S. diplomat’s residence in Rangoon.

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I think this meeting warmed a lot of hearts.

This link has images from her visit to the new capital Nay Pyi Taw where President Thein Sein asked her for guidance in democratic governance and told her they had been watching The West Wing for background.   You can also see her visit to the beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda here.

Pics from Burma: Hillary Meets Aung Sang Suu Kyi … and more!

At this meeting and press availability on December 2, 2011 Hillary visited Suu Kyi’s home which had also been her prison.  She brought gifts – a stack of books and a toy for the doggie.  The woman who calls herself a ‘dog owner’ on Twitter is actually a doggie mom and knew how much the company of Suu Kyi’s dog’s must have meant to her during her long isolation.  It was adorably thoughtful.  Like Hillary and her staff, I, over the past weekend, watched the film The Lady.  There in the movie, sure enough, was a sweet, faithful little dog.

Hillary & Aung San Suu Kyi: Remarks and Pics Day 2


Suu Kyi, finally free to travel came to the U.S. in September 2012 and received the Congressional Gold Medal.

Hillary Clinton at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

That month, Hillary moved on to her final UNGA session as secretary of state and met twice there with President Thein Sein.

Hillary Clinton With Burmese President Thein Sein

Hillary Clinton With Burmese President Thein Sein

In November 2012, Hillary accompanied President Obama on a visit to Burma.

Secretary Clinton and President Obama in Myanmar



… and on the ‘OTR’ visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda!

Hillary ends this chapter with both Suu Kyi’s and her own cautions about being too optimistic too quickly.  That is excellent advice.  One must always remain vigilant.  She does not mention this, but I shall.  As she began, with Burma as a target on her ‘smart power’ agenda, so she ended.  Just a few weeks before leaving the State Department, she issued this.

Hillary Clinton: U.S. – Burma to Exchange Ambassadors

To me, this looks like a success that we should, as she warns, recognize with restraint, but a victory for her State Department nonetheless.  There are bumps in the road ahead, to be sure, but those who say she accomplished little to nothing would do well to assess her diplomatic waltz with Burma. A door has opened.  We have walked in thanks to Hillary and her hard-working staff.

Well done, Mme. Secretary!


Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>





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Mme. Secretary  began the  month on foreign travel,  most of it her typical country-a-day routine, to countries engaged in disputes over rights in the South China Sea.  It was a particularly hectic trip with a lot of bilaterals that would have been less necessary had the Law of the Sea Convention not been killed by the Tea Party members of Congress.

September is always a heavy month for a secretary of state with the U.N. General Assembly convening at the New York headquarters.  For this particular SOS it has always been even busier since her husband simultaneously runs his Clinton Global Initiative in NYC,  and she always makes an appearance.   This year was altogether heavier than in the past since it was an election year and the president stayed only a short time and left her in charge in his wake.  She acted as head-of-state through most of UNGA this year.

Punctuating all of this were demonstrations and riots at embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.  The American School in Tunis was destroyed, and of course there was the deadly attack on the consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Here are some pictures from September starting with her visit to the Cook Islands.


On the third she was in Indonesia.

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On the fourth she left Indonesia for China following a stop at Embassy Jakarta and a visit to the ASEAN Secretariat.


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She remained in china through the fifth.

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She was in Timor-Leste on the sixth when her husband addressed the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.  Somehow they managed to find an internet connection for her to be able to watch.

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The same day she arrived in Brunei, the first top U.S. diplomat to visit all 10 ASEAN countries.


From there she traveled to Vladivostok, Russia (birthplace of Yul Brynner) where she and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov signed a cooperation agreement.

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She attended and spoke at an APEC conference.

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She left Russia on the ninth for D.C. and although she had no public events on the 11th, we later learned from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland that she was indeed at her office late into that night when the attack on the consulate occurred.  The next day the sad aftermath rolled out from the Rose Garden of the White House to the State Department where devastated colleagues mourned the dead.

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On the 14th, the coffins came home.  She and President Obama were at the transfer  ceremony.

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The 18th was “Ladies’ Day”  at the State Department.  She welcomed  Aung San Suu Kyi and held a signing ceremony with her Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa.

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As world leaders began to arrive in the U.S. for UNGA, there were events in D.C.


And on the 23rd it was off to UNGA and CGI in New York where her September ended.

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When the General Assembly convened, it was clear how much she would be missed on the world stage.

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Here is the archive for September 2012.

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Earlier today, Secretary Clinton accompanied President Obama on an historic visit to Myanmar.  It was the first by an American President to that country.  Nearly a year ago, Secretary Clinton made the first visit there by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. 

Here are some pictures from today.  They visited the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the President gave a speech at the University of Yangon.

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Remarks at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
September 19, 2012

Seventeen years ago, as we were in Beijing on behalf of the UN Conference Concerning the Rights of Women, we thought about many of the women around the world who could not be with us but whose presence was a strong message of the values that we were promoting, values that were not just American values, but universal values.Madeleine Albright left that conference in Beijing taking with her a poster signed by all the Americans and a few others who we gave the opportunity to sign to take that poster to Burma to give to Aung San Suu Kyi, to let her know once again that there were many of us around the world supporting her in her cause, remembering her personally.

When I was a member of the Senate and privileged to vote for the bill that we now see come to fruition in 2008, I never imagined that a year later I would be Secretary of State. But I was so pleased to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues, my former colleagues, in thinking about a new approach that the United States might take to try to see if there were any way to help move a transition forward, not only in honor of and furtherance of Daw Suu Kyi’s life’s work, but for the people of Burma.

I reached out to Joe Crowley and Congressman Manzullo and my friends Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, and Mitch McConnell. I went to see Senator McConnell in his office. I said, “Mitch, what do you think about seeing whether there is any opening whatsoever?” And I was so pleased when he said, “Well, let’s give it a try. Let’s be careful. Let’s proceed judiciously.” On the way out of his office, he stopped and showed me a letter from Suu Kyi to him. We knew that at some point change would have to come, but whether it would be a year, a decade, or longer, no one could predict.
But very carefully, in close consultation with the Congress, we began sending Assistant Secretary Campbell and then now-Ambassador Derek Mitchell in the position created by the Congress of Special Envoy, listening, probing, seeing whether there was something happening. And slowly change started. And of course, when the house arrest was finally lifted and the voice of this remarkable woman could be heard more broadly, we knew that the United States had to be not only supporting the change, but carefully nurturing it to ensure that it did not end up being hijacked, detoured.

Today, we are joined by a representative from the President of Burma, and we welcome U Aung Min. We are joined by the new Ambassador from Burma, Than Swe. And we are joined not only by a fearless champion of human rights and democracy, but a member of parliament. It’s almost too delicious to believe, my friend, that you are here in the Rotunda of our great Capitol, the centerpiece of our democracy, as an elected member of your parliament – (applause) – and as, Leader Pelosi, the leader of the political opposition, the leader of a political party.

I am so deeply moved by what she has stood for and what she has represented, first and foremost for the people of her country, but for people everywhere who yearn for freedom, whose voices deserve to be heard. But I am also very impressed that she was not satisfied upon the release from house arrest to remain an advocate, a symbol, an icon. In many ways, that would have been the easiest path to take, because if anyone understands how difficult politics is anywhere in the world, it is all of us in this chamber today.

The to and fro of making decisions of compromise, of reaching agreement with people that you don’t agree with – and in her case, people who were her former jailers – is a great testament to her courage and fortitude and understanding of what Burma needs now.

Last December, I had the great honor of visiting with her in the house by the lake where she was confined for many years. As we walked around that house and through the rooms, I remembered another visit I had made years before with Nelson Mandela showing me his prison cell on Robben Island. These two political prisoners were separated by great distances, but they were both marked by uncommon grace, generosity of spirit, and unshakable will.

And they both understood something that I think we all have to grasp: the day they walked out of prison, the day the house arrest was ended, was not the end of the struggle. It was the beginning of a new phase. Overcoming the past, healing a wounded country, building a democracy, would require moving from icon to politician.

In a time when politics and politicians are sometimes the objects of criticism and even disdain, it is well for us to remember people fight and die for the right to exercise politics, to be part of a democracy, to make decisions peacefully, without resorting to the gun. That work of building democracy never ends, not here in the seat of the oldest democracy in the world, or in a country like Burma in its new capital of Nay Pyi Taw, where the speaker of the lower house where Suu Kyi now serves said to me, “Help us learn how to be a democratic congress, a parliament.” He went on to tell me that they were trying to teach themselves by watching old segments of the West Wing. (Laughter.) I said, “I think we can do better than that, Mr. Speaker.”

So as we honor her, a time that many of us feared would never happen, it’s good to recognize that one phase of her work may be over, but another phase, equally important, is just beginning. And that the United States will stand with her, with the President of Burma and those who are reformers in the executive branch and the legislative branch, with the activists, with civil society, as they fan the flickers of democratic progress and press forward with reform. And we wish them all Godspeed. (Applause.)

The entire ceremony was impressive. C-SPAN3 covered it, but there is nothing on the schedule indicating a re-run. Here is the link to the entire event. Daw Suu Kyi’s comments about freedom and security were especially relevant at a time when many have a hard time comprehending the relationship between the two.

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Secretary Clinton Honors Daw Aung San Suu Kyi


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

U.S. Institute of Peace

Washington, DC

September 18, 2012

Well, it’s wonderful to be back here at USIP, especially for this extraordinary, auspicious occasion. I want to thank USIP and congratulate Jim Marshall upon becoming president. We certainly look forward to working with you. And I want to thank the Asia Society and Henrietta Fore and all who represent the commitment that started in the 1950s but has certainly stood the test of time, and we very much enjoy working with you as well.

Now the purpose for this gathering is quite an exciting one because we have here an opportunity for someone who has represented the struggle for freedom and democracy, for human rights and opportunity, not only in her own country but seen as such around the world. So it’s wonderful to see Suu Kyi back in Washington as a free and forceful leader of a country opening up to the world in ways that would have been difficult to imagine even recently.

Those flickers of progress that President Obama spoke of last – a year ago, summer – have been growing and strengthening in the times since. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released over the past year, including some just this week. Opposition political parties have been legalized and their members have won seats in parliament. Restrictions on the press, and on freedom of assembly, have eased. We’ve seen laws that have been enacted to expand the rights of workers to form labor unions, and to outlaw forced labor. And the government has reached fragile ceasefires in some long-running ethnic conflicts.

Suu Kyi’s courage and moral leadership never wavered through years of house arrest and persecution. And she and other opposition leaders have now joined with President Thein Sein and the new government to take the courageous steps necessary to drive these reforms.

I have met with the President twice, in Naypyidaw and then this summer in Cambodia. I look forward to welcoming him to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. This morning at the State Department, Suu Kyi and I had the chance to talk about the work still ahead, and there is a lot of work. I think one of the important reasons for her visit at this time is to remind us of how much more still lies ahead – from strengthening the rule of law in democratic institutions to addressing the challenges in many of the ethnic conflicts and in Rakhine State. The government and the opposition need to continue to work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past, and carry the reforms forward. That is also key to guard against backsliding, because there are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance.

So we in the State Department and in the Obama Administration are certainly the first to say that the process of reform must continue. Political prisoners remain in detention. Ongoing ethnic and sectarian violence continues to undermine progress toward national reconciliation, stability, and lasting peace. Some military contacts with North Korea persist. And further reforms are required to strengthen the rule of law, increase transparency, and address constitutional challenges.

But the United States is committed to standing with the government and the people of Burma to support this progress that has begun but is still a work in progress. We’ve taken steps to exchange ambassadors, ease economic sanctions, and pave the way for American companies to invest in the country in a way that advances rather than undermines continued reforms. And we are in close contact with government and opposition leaders. Our first-ever Ambassador to this new Burma, Derek Mitchell, is here with us today. And he, along with the team that Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell lead, are not only in constant communication but ongoing consultation with many representatives of different constituencies in Burma so that we can provide the help and support that is necessary and appropriate.

Last December, I had the honor of visiting Suu Kyi in the house that was once her prison, and we talked about many things, including the challenge of moving from protest to politics, from symbol to stateswoman. That is what her country needs from her now. I know a little bit about how hard that transition can be. It exposes you to a whole new sort of criticism and even attack, and requires the kind of pragmatic compromise and coalition building that is the lifeblood of politics but may disappoint the purists who have held faith with you while you were on the outside.

Yet in the months since Suu Kyi walked out of house arrest and into the political arena, she has proven herself to be a natural – campaigning hard, legislating well, and staying focused on what can be done right now and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow to move her country forward.

So I think you are in for a great opportunity this afternoon, as will be many American audiences in the days ahead, as she has a very generous schedule of activities. I, unfortunately, have to depart back to the State Department, but it will be certainly a great pleasure for me now to introduce someone who is not only a Nobel Laureate and a hero to millions, but also a busy member of parliament and the leader of her political party. Please welcome Aung San Su Kyi. (Applause.)

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for September 18, 2012

Public Schedule for September 18, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
September 18, 2012



9:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chair of the National League for Democracy and Member of Parliament from Kawhmu Constituency, at the Department of State.

12:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at an event honoring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chair of the National League for Democracy and Member of Parliament from Kawhmu Constituency, at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

1:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts the U.S.-Mexico Merida High Level Consultative Group meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, at the Department of State.

2:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a signing ceremony with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, at the Department of State.

2:20 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a working lunch with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, at the Department of State.

3:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a joint press availability with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, at the Department of State.

7:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a dinner with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chair of the National League for Democracy and Member of Parliament from Kawhmu Constituency, in Washington, DC.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton(L) and pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi talk prior to dinner at the US Chief of Mission Residence in Rangoon, Myanmar, December 1, 2011. Clinton is traveling to the country on a two-day visit, the first by a US Secretary of State in more than 50 years. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary Clinton to Deliver Remarks at U.S. Institute of Peace Event Honoring Aung San Suu Kyi

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 17, 2012


On Tuesday, September 18th Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver introductory remarks at an event honoring Aung San Suu Kyi, at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The event, “On Burma/Myanmar in Transition: A Discussion with Aung San Suu Kyi” is sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Asia Society and the Department of State. The event will also include featured remarks by Aung San Suu Kyi. The discussion will focus on the democratic transition in Burma/Myanmar, the challenges that lay ahead, and the potential for a promising future.

The event will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m.

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Burma – National League for Democracy and Parliament

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 2, 2012


Only eighteen months ago, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest. Today, the pro-democracy leader and several other members of the National League for Democracy have taken their newly won seats in Burma’s parliament. For the first time in the country’s history, Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her party will have a role and voice in government.

I would like to send my congratulations to these pro-democracy leaders, other newly elected Members of Parliament, and the hundreds of thousands of voters for their courage and commitment to achieving a more representative and responsive government. President Thein Sein and his government have also taken important strides toward democracy and national reconciliation.

This is an important moment for Burma’s future. A genuine transition toward multi-party democracy leading to general elections in 2015 will help build a more prosperous society. I encourage all political parties, civil society representatives and ethnic minority leaders to work together to address challenges and seize new opportunities for a more democratic, free, peaceful, and prosperous future.

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Remarks at “The Lady” Film Screening


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Motion Picture Association of America
Washington, DC
April 9, 2012

Well, thank you all very much. And you are in for such a treat. This is a terrific movie, one that I had the great privilege of watching on my way to Burma.

And I particularly would like to thank the director for that honor, and also it’s wonderful to see Michelle here as well. So I am thrilled to look out and see so many people who care deeply about this issue. And I came in as Derek Mitchell and Melanne Verveer were finishing up their remarks.

But as Michael just said, movies have such a powerful voice in our culture, in every culture. And it is both exciting and profoundly moving that filmmakers use it to do more than just entertain, although entertainment is a very important part of the human experience. But the kind of educational and inspirational mission that Michael referred to is very important in today’s world, and this film portrays a woman whose story needs to be in theaters and living rooms across the world.

I want to thank Chris Dodd for sponsoring the showing here tonight. And I just really wanted to come by to underscore how important this moment in the history of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma happen to be. The personal side of Suu Kyi’s story that you will see tonight is one that is so moving when you look at what she gave up, the difficult decisions and sacrifices that she made for her country on behalf of freedom with the hope of democracy.

And it is certainly the case that whoever meets her knows how famous she is, how iconic she is. But what you come away with is how human, down-to-earth, personally engaged she happens to be in everything she’s doing, which makes her story even more painful. Because having met my share of famous people over a long period of time now, there are some who get so caught up in their cause and their mission that you do get the sense that, for them, the human relationships, the one-to-one personal connections with family and friends and colleagues have been totally subordinated to the larger mission. To a great extent, that is necessary, especially in the circumstances in which she found herself. But watching her interact with the people around her, the people who took care of her, the people who were there with her through all her years of house arrest and struggle, makes you know that this is someone who was very well aware of the pain and the sacrifice that she was undertaking.

Now, just a few days ago, we joined the world in celebrating her election. I did tell her in one of our recent telephone conversations she was moving from an icon to a politician. (Laughter.) Having made sort of the same journey to some extent, I know that that’s not easy because now you go to a parliament and you start compromising, which is what democracy is all about. It is not a dirty word. You cannot expect to have one person or one party – one leader – be the repository of everything that is true. And so you have to work with other people, some of whom you disagree with deeply. (Laughter.) But it is part of the commitment you make to a democratic process, even one as fragile as that being embraced by the leadership and the people of Burma.

As they grapple with transitioning from authoritarian military rule to a more open political and economic system, there are going to be a lot of difficult days ahead. President Thein Sein and his government have taken courageous steps. They’ve made this progress possible in many ways. They’ve helped to launch their country on this historic new path. But there is still a lot to be done.

I see Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, with whom I’ve worked closely on this whole process and project almost from the beginning of our time in the Obama Administration. And we will continue to press for all political prisoners to be released, for those already released to be given unconditional freedom. We will continue to work to end in a just way the ongoing ethnic conflicts.

We have told the government there that we will match action for action as they take steps. And last week, I outlined a number of the action steps the United States is prepared to take, including sending an accredited ambassador, reestablishing a USAID mission, enabling private organizations to engage in a broader range of non-profit activity supporting the people, beginning a targeted process of easing the ban on exporting U.S. financial services and restrictions on investment and travel.

It is something that we enter into with our eyes very wide open but with our hearts very hopeful. And certainly, we are guided by the partnership that we have with democrats, including most famously, Aung San Suu Kyi.

So tonight is an opportunity to celebrate this extraordinary woman’s struggle to bring democracy to her people. And we should also remember – and you’ll see some images in the movie of the many heroes in the pro-democracy movement who have sacrificed their freedom and even their very lives. There are hundreds and thousands of people working alongside Aung San Suu Kyi inside Burma and around the world, including in this room as I look at some of the faces who have been stalwart supporters and activists of behalf of a better, more democratic, peaceful future for the people of Burma.

So this film honors them as well. And after decades of war and turmoil, we do look with hope – realistic but nevertheless hopeful aspirations – for what can happen. So again, I want to thank Luc Besson and Michelle Yeoh and everyone associated with this film. And I personally want to thank you for going to so much effort to get it to me so that I could watch it as I was traveling to actually meet the real person. And it was a very moving experience for me, and I think it will be for all of you. So thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Remarks on Burma


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
January 13, 2012

Good morning. When I visited Burma in December on behalf of President Obama and the United States, I encouraged authorities to continue along the path of reform. In particular, I urged them to unconditionally release all political prisoners, halt hostilities in ethnic areas, and seek a true political settlement. This would broaden the space for political and civic activity, and by doing so, it would lay the groundwork to fully implement legislation that would protect universal freedoms of assembly, speech, and association. I also urged that they sever all illicit military ties with North Korea.

Since then, we have seen progress on several fronts. Today, I join President Obama in welcoming the news that the government has released hundreds of political prisoners, several of whom have languished in prison for decades. This is a substantial and serious step forward in the government’s stated commitment to political reform, and I applaud it, and the entire international community should as well. Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed these dramatic steps as further indication of progress and commitment.

Many of the people released today have distinguished themselves as steadfast, courageous leaders in the fight for democracy and human rights at critical times in their country’s recent history. And like all of the people of their country, they want and deserve to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

I also warmly welcome news of a ceasefire agreement between the government and the Karen National Union. The KNU has been involved in one of the longest-running insurgencies anywhere in the world, and entering a ceasefire agreement that begins to address the longstanding grievances of the Karen people is an important step forward. It is in that spirit that I urge the government to enter into meaningful dialogue with all ethnic groups to achieve national reconciliation, to allow news media and humanitarian groups access to ethnic areas.

In addition to the ceasefire and the release of political prisoners, the civilian leadership has taken other important steps since assuming power in April 2011, including easing restrictions on media and civil society; engaging Aung San Suu Kyi in a substantive dialogue and amending electoral laws to pave the way for the National League for Democracy to participate in the political process; setting a date for the by-elections this year; passing new legislation to protect the right of assembly and the rights of workers; beginning to provide humanitarian access for the United Nations and NGOs to conflict areas; and establishing their own national Human Rights Commission.

As I said last December, the United States will meet action with action. Based on the steps taken so far, we will now begin. In consultation with members of Congress and at the direction of President Obama, we will start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Burma. We will identify a candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to represent the United States Government and our broader efforts to strengthen and deepen our ties with both the people and the government.

This is a lengthy process, and it will, of course, depend on continuing progress and reform. But an American Ambassador will help strengthen our efforts to support the historic and promising steps that are now unfolding. I have also instructed my team at the State Department to identify further steps that the United States can take in conjunction with our friends and allies to support the reforms underway. And I intend to call President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi this weekend to underscore our commitment to walk together with them on the path of reform.

Of course, there is more work to be done, and we will continue to work with the government on their reform and reconciliation efforts, including taking further steps to address the concerns of ethnic minority groups, making sure that there is a free and fair by-election, and making all the releases from prison unconditional, and making sure that all remaining political detainees are also released.

But this is a momentous day for the diverse people of Burma, and we will continue to support them and their efforts and to encourage the government to take bold steps that build the kind of free and prosperous nation, that I heard from everyone I met with, they desire to see. We believe that that future is achievable, and we look forward to being a partner and a friend as we see the progress continue. Thank you.

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