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Will Democracy Take Root in Myanmar?

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia
June 23, 2012
The National


For nearly two decades, the house at 54 University Avenue in Yangon, Myanmar, a crumbling old Victorian home, appeared more like a fortress than a residence.

Along the road leading to Aung San Suu Kyi's family home, groups of soldiers and military intelligence men, armed with radios and machine guns, blocked its entrance, which was so far from the actual house that no one on the road could see inside.

Citizens foolish enough to travel to the roadblock were often detained and roughly interrogated. Foreigners (including myself) who wandered towards the residence, seeking any glimpse of the famous opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate, were turned away. Suu Kyi herself stayed inside. Except for a few brief periods of release from her long house arrest, her main contact with the outside world was through her radio and a maid who came and went. Other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won a free election in 1990 but was never allowed to take office, could not visit, if they themselves were not in jail.

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