Burma at the Crossroads

April 07, 2015

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President Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi welcomes United States President Barack Obama to her home in Rangoon on November 19, 2012.


Pete Souza

It was only four years ago that President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Burma. This followed Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” campaign promise, and has since led to an easing of sanctions against the country and multiple meetings with Nobel Peace Prize-winning Burmese icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other national leaders.

Undoubtedly, the Burmese government has taken some significant steps toward reform, most notably releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and giving her a seat in Parliament. But in recent months, there’s been what many consider a backslide. The government has cracked down hard on student protests and there are ongoing cases of severe and unyielding religious persecution, especially against the Muslim minority in the western part of the country.

On this episode of America Abroad, we examine the history, politics, and promise of this nation in transition.

Stories in this episode


Human traffickers find easy prey among Myanmar's minorities

Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim population is one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They can’t vote. They have no rights. And they aren’t recognized as citizens in their own country. Their desperate situation has attracted the attention of human traffickers, who prey on the vulnerability of people like “Abdul” whose 14-year-old daughter is now being held captive.