Myanmar

55 million people
Internet:
Not Free
Press:
Not Free
Partly Free

News & Updates

by Rhonda Mays and Robert Herman*

During our recent trip to Burma, most of the prodemocracy and human rights activists with whom we met expressed their appreciation for the role that sanctions by the United States and other democratic powers had played in bringing about the modest but potentially significant reforms we are now seeing in the country. They acknowledged that while trade restrictions may have made life harder for ordinary people, particularly those working in the garment and manufacturing sectors, the leverage gained as a result of the sanctions was absolutely vital in catalyzing political will among military leaders to initiate reforms.

Burma’s parliamentary by-elections on Sunday were seen as a make or break moment for the reform process that has taken place over the last two years. The country, long ruled by one of the world most repressive authoritarian regimes, inaugurated a new parliament and a nominally civilian government in early 2011, though both are still dominated by the military and its allies. The authorities have since taken a series of other steps, such as the release of some political prisoners that were designed to improve relations with democratic powers including the United States. The international community in turn has sought to engage the new leadership and encourage further reforms.

Freedom House congratulates Freedom Award winner Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) for winning 43 of 44 parliamentary seats in Burma’s historic April 1 election. The contest marks a key moment in the government’s recent moves towards liberalization.

Freedom House welcomes the release of 651 prisoners in Burma, many of whom are high-level political prisoners.

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Experts

Program Manager, Asia

Lauren Galacia manages the Asia program.  Prior to joining Freedom House, she oversaw the development and implementation of citizen engagement programs throughout Asia and Eurasia, with a focus on Thailand and Burma.

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Senior Research Analyst for East Asia

Sarah Cook is a senior research analyst for East Asia at Freedom House.

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Signature Reports

Special Reports

Worst of the Worst 2011: The World's Most Repressive Societies

Freedom House has prepared this special report entitled Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies, as a companion to its annual survey on the state of global political rights and civil liberties, Freedom in the World. The special report provides summary country reports, tables, and graphical information on the countries that receive the lowest combined ratings for political rights and civil liberties in Freedom in the World, and whose citizens endure systematic and pervasive human rights violations.

Worst of the Worst 2007

Sudan, North Korea and Uzbekistan are prominent among the most repressive regimes in the world, according to a report released by Freedom House.  The study, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2007,” named seventeen countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties, and pointed to thirteen countries which have been on the list for five years or more.

Programs

In Southeast Asia, Freedom House programs enable citizens to assert their rights and supports their efforts to gain a greater say in how they are governed.

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Freedom House helps LGBTI rights groups in Southeast Asia to push back against the tide of intolerance.

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