Burma Elects a Sainted Political Prisoner to Power

In a stunning turn of events for the onetime human rights disaster zone, Nobel Peace Prize-winner and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to Burma's parliament.

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An election in Burma has resulted in Aung San Suu Kyi -- the 66-year-old, Nobel Peace Prize-winning "living saint" who spent 22 years under house arrest -- being voted to political office in a landslide. Pressed beneath the thumb of a brutal military junta for close to 50 years, the nation is electrified with renewed faith in a democratic future for their country. Speaking from Turkey, where she is attending a summit to address Syria's own tyrannical regime, Hillary Clinton offered cautious support of tonight's celebrations, The Guardian reports:

"The United States congratulates the people who participated, many for the first time, in the campaign and election process ... It is too early to know what progress of recent months means and whether it will be sustained. There are no guarantees for what lies ahead for the people of Burma. ... Even the most repressive regimes can reform, and even the most closed societies can open."

Burma, renamed Myanmar by the junta, has long been singled out by human rights organizations as one of the world's most oppressive regimes. There existed no independent judiciary in the country, where forced labor and human trafficking were common, as was the systematic use of sexual violence. But the last year has brought dramatic shifts in the political landscape, the AP notes: The military officially ceded power in 2011, and then stunned the world when they went on to release political prisoners, sign and uphold cease-fires with political rebels, allow for press freedoms and, most significantly, open talks with Suu Kyi.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.