Sunday, November 14, 2010

Into a bigger prison

November 13, 2010

Once again, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese opposition, is in theory at liberty. Her latest spell of house arrest ended on November 13th, when she came briefly out of her home in Yangon, where she had been detained, to greet a crowd of thousands of delighted supporters. In the past, such spells of freedom have been illusory. The junta has placed such strict limits on her activities that she has in effect simply been released into a larger prison.

This time, Miss Suu Kyi emerges into a somewhat changed political landscape. On November 7th the junta staged the first elections for 20 years. They were designed not so much to pass power to civilian politicians as to entrench the junta's own power. Its front “party” has indeed claimed a massive victory. But the polls have at least allowed a tiny flicker of pluralist light into the murk of Burmese totalitarianism.