This is not the Myanmar that President Barack Obama will see when he becomes the first American head of state to visit this pagoda-studded country on Monday. He wants to encourage the stunning democratic transformation Myanmar has undergone since last year, but there are concerns his visit may be premature.
The nation’s warp-speed revolution is fragile. Its nascent transition has already been bloody. And much unfinished business remains: from repealing harsh laws that helped silence a generation of pro-democracy dissidents, to overhauling a political power structure still tipped heavily in favor of army rule.
“If President Obama doesn’t put his full weight behind further urgent reforms in Myanmar, this trip risks being an ill-timed presidential pat on the back for a regime that has looked the other way as violence rages, destroying villages and communities just in the last few weeks,” said Suzanne Nossel, the U.S.-based director of Amnesty International.