3 April 2012
The resounding success of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the election of its leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament in Sunday's historic by-election in Burma confirms the long-held desire of the Burmese people for democracy, absent for so many years in that country. The Socialist International warmly congratulates the Burmese people, who have courageously seized the opportunity presented by this election to demonstrate their clear desire for change through the democratic process. The outcome of these polls resonates strongly in the world today, first as an example of the leadership, perseverance and determination of Aung San Suu Kyi in pursuit of the vision of freedoms, rights and inclusion for all the Burmese people and equally as a powerful reminder that in all regions of the world today the calls for democracy must be heard and respected.
Burma, which until last year had been under the rule of a military junta, has initiated a process of limited reforms under the government of President Thein Sein, a former general who since March 2011 has overseen the easing of censorship laws, the legalising of trade unions and the release of hundreds of political prisoners including Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi has been a shining example to democrats across the world during more than two decades of peaceful and dignified struggle against Burma's military rulers, for most of which time she was under house arrest.
The democratic aspirations of the Burmese people, so evident today, must lead and define the way forward, now and in the time leading to the general elections in 2015, to ensure that there is no return to the repression and authoritarianism of the past. The government, the military and the different political parties should remain engaged in a process which must deliver nothing less than full democracy. Despite the NLD having won almost all the seats contested in the by-elections, these represent less than one tenth of the national assembly, where currently 25% of the seats are reserved for members appointed by the military. The process of democratisation must be continued and deepened to extend to all areas of society and all branches of government.
This moment for Burma should be greeted with hope for the future. The Socialist International will remain fully committed in its support for the people of Burma and the NLD in their quest for democracy, for social and economic progress and for the well-being of all its citizens.