The Awakening

Inside the Burmese Spring.
  1. One evening recently in Rangoon, my friend Ko Ye (not his real name) arrived at the apartment where I was staying, brandishing the latest issue of the weekly newspaper he runs. It was, he announced with great fanfare, a landmark edition: For the first time ever, government censors had allowed him to run a photo of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s most prominent dissident, on the cover. The edition also included other previously banned topics: political analysis of U.S. relations with Burma and an article about Martin Luther King that contained the taboo phrase “human rights” in the headline. “And here,” said Ko Ye, jabbing another headline, “is the first time I’ve been able to write about the 2.2 trillion kyat budget deficit. This is real news!”

    I first met Ko Ye ten years ago, and his tireless struggle to squeeze the truth past government censors has taught me much about life under a military dictatorship. If you want to understand Burma, he told me then, “you must look for what’s m...

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