As President Obama winds down his historic trip to Asia in which he was the first American head of state to visit Myanmar and Cambodia, National Journal takes a look at arguably his most controversial destination during the trip.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, had been ruled by a military junta from 1962 to 2011 and had remained mostly isolated from the rest of the world. During that time, the military rulers of the nation wielded absolute power over its people and were accused of numerous human-rights abuses.
However, over the last year or so, that nation has made strides toward democratic rule. In 2010, Myanmar held its first general election in 20 years and released political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi from nearly two decades of house arrest.
“When I took office as president, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear,” Obama said concerning Myanmar’s democratic progress. “I said in my inauguration address: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip.”
Below are three videos documenting Myanmar’s struggle with authoritarian rule and democracy.
In the first video, originally aired in February 1957, CBS News’ Edward R. Murrow hosts a broadcast laying out the structure of then-Burma at the birth of its nationhood.
The second video shows the life of Aung San Suu Kyi and her commitment to bring democracy to the country.
The last video shows the nation only a couple of months after the military suppressed peaceful pro-democracy protests there.