Nearly a year ago, Burma, one of the world’s most oppressive military dictatorships, held elections that were widely regarded as a sham. Few observers figured that the new president, a former military man named Thein Sein, would be allowed or inclined to carry out substantial changes of any kind. The military, it was assumed, would continue to pull the strings.
Aung San Suu Kyi could be forgiven for looking at the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and wondering if she could spark the same sort of upheaval in her own homeland, a country dominated by a military regime for the past four decades. After all, the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate retains incomparable popular support, a point that all of her public appearances since her release from house arrest last November have served to underscore.
Being arrested is never pleasant, but, when your detainers are wearing flip-flops and sarongs, it's somehow less threatening. I had already given my exposed rolls of film to an acquaintance to smuggle out of Burma, so the police had to settle for an unexposed one left in the camera. My notes, in Polish, were briefly examined, then ignored.