By JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, MUHAMMAD YUNUS and BENEDICT ROGERS
Published: May 20, 2013
Source: New York Times
President Thein Sein of Myanmar is in Washington this week, the first Burmese head of state to visit since the military dictator Gen. Ne Win in 1966.
Much has changed since 1966. Fifty years of direct military rule have ended, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is out of house arrest and sits in Parliament, along with 42 of her colleagues from the National League for Democracy, and hundreds of political prisoners — including the most prominent dissidents — have been released.
Preliminary, fragile cease-fires have been reached with most ethnic armed resistance groups, and in Yangon and other major cities there is greater space for civil society, more freedom for the media and more opportunity for political actors. The first steps toward freedom are being taken.
When dictators unclench their fists, they should be met with an outstretched hand. The international community is right to bring Myanmar in from the cold, to engage reformers and to support the process of democratization with expertise and encouragement.