YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Myanmar on Monday is meant to show America’s support for the country’s transition to democracy.
The White House has cautioned that Obama’s trip to the former pariah state should not be viewed as a “victory celebration” but as an opportunity to press for urgent action still needed in Myanmar. Notably, freeing political prisoners and ending ethnic tension in remote areas.
Myanmar was under military rule for a half-century until last year when a nominally civilian government took office and stunned the world with a rapid rush toward reforms.
One of its early moves was to release famed Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and allow her to campaign for parliament. She now leads a small minority in a chamber filled with former military men.
Suu Kyi’s enormous popularity stems in part from her father, independence hero Gen. Aung San, who was assassinated in 1948.
Obama’s roughly six-hour visit will be confined to Yangon, the main city where the military brutally crushed pro-democracy uprisings in the past, including a 2007 rally led by Buddhist monks and protests in 1988 led by student activists.
During his trip, Obama will meet separately with reformist President Thein Sein and Suu Kyi.
Here, in images, are scenes from Myanmar: