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Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 02:54 GMT
Signs of hope for Aung San Suu Kyi
Every aspect of life is tightly controlled in Burma
By BBC Burma analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

Ten years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for her efforts to bring democratic change to Burma.

Ten years ago there was no hope of political change, now there is a glimmer of hope

At the time she was under house arrest.

Ten years after her award, Burma seems to have changed very little.

The country is still ruled by the Burmese army who tightly control almost every aspect of life.

Protests, demonstrations or public criticism of the regime is not allowed. Anyone who dares to challenge the army is thrown into jail.

Aung San Suu Kyi was prevented from leaving Rangoon last year
Six years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi was officially released - but was not allowed to travel outside the capital Rangoon.

When she tried, she was forcibly returned to her home.

She's been a virtual prisoner there again for the last 15 months.

Although there's been little change politically, there have been significant developments.

Over the last 10 years the capital Rangoon has turned into a bustling city, with its own traffic jams.

Rebel ceasefires

The generals of the army and some of the urban middle classes have managed to get wealthy.

But for most of the country's people, living standards have declined.

The United Nations estimates that two out of five children are suffering from malnutrition.

Ten years ago the Burmese army did not control most of the country's border areas - especially the borders with China and Thailand.

Now it has signed ceasefire agreements with all but one of the main ethnic rebel groups and taken full control of all of its borders.

Ten years ago Burma was almost totally isolated internationally, with China its only ally.

Aid hope

Now it's a member of the south east Asian regional grouping ASEAN, and the international community is pondering reducing Rangoon's isolation even further.

The United States, Europe and Japan are seriously considering resuming limited humanitarian aid to encourage the dialogue process between the Burmese generals and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Although there have been no substantive results from this process which started more than a year ago, at least the two sides are talking to each other.

Ten years ago there was no hope of political change, now there is a glimmer of hope.

See also:

08 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Peace greats urge Suu Kyi release
07 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Free Aung San Suu Kyi'
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's slow road to reform
06 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma opposition denies 'power share'
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese opposition backs talks
19 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Burma talks stalled
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