Amidst the rash of commemorations celebrating the twentieth anniversay of the fall of the Berlin Wall last year, it was easy to feel that 1989 was a year in which freedom advanced everywhere. The Soviet empire collapsed. Two years later the Soviet Union itself disintegrated. A few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela was released. The end of the cold war unfroze deadlocked political situations all over the world.
But political freedom did not advance everywhere in 1989. Most obviously that was the year that the Chinese government sent the tanks into Tiananmen Square. And 1989 was also the year that Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in Burma. Who would have believed that twenty-one years later, this heroic woman would still be a political prisoner? At least, twenty one years after Tiananmen, China has changed unrecognisably. But Burma is still frozen in time and in tyranny. The depressing sense that nothing at all has changed is re-enforced by the latest news that the Burmese military junta has banned Suu Kyi from participating in national elections later this year. Read more