Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 4:06 pm
In Myanmar, there are signs in the most unlikely places that people are starting to believe recent political reforms are for real, and aren't just a trick.
Take a recent performance of the Moustache Brothers vaudeville troupe in the northern city of Mandalay.
The troupe performs in the family home — it's not allowed to perform in public. Its biting political satire, aimed at the generals and their cronies, has made the troupe a favorite of Western tourists and diplomats.
Michael Sullivan made many trips to Myanmar, also known as Burma, when he was NPR's correspondent for Southeast Asia. He recently returned, and found a country changing at a dizzying pace.
I get off the plane and almost immediately feel like I've come to the wrong country. There's a large blue sign at immigration that reads: "Attention journalists covering the by-election: please register at the Media Counter."
"Media Counter"? My kind has never been welcome here.
In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.
It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi says the run up to Sunday's election for a few parliament seats in Myanmar, also known as Burma, have been marred by voting irregularities and reports of intimidation. She says that means the election process is neither free nor fair.