President Obama is about to go to Myanmar for the second time in two years - #BIGDEAL alert! - but, after a recent visit to Myanmar's brand spanking new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, I was wondering: Will anyone actually be there to greet him when he gets there?
It is all too easy for businesspeople and politicians from western economies to criticize developing countries for taking measures to protect domestic economic interests, but critics in glass houses should not throw stones. Most western nations, including the two great bastions of free trade, the U.S. and U.K., adopted extremely protectionist policies during earlier stages of development.
As President Obama returns to Myanmar, questions are being asked about what change his new approach has actually delivered for ordinary people.
When it comes to the way that the ethnic Burman majority treats the 135 different ethnic minorities that make up roughly 40 percent of Myanmar's population, "backsliding" is not the right word -- because that would presume that progress has been made in the first place.
In addition to saying the forbidden word, President Obama should address the root causes of the crisis by urging the Burmese government to reform its outdated laws that base citizenship on ethnic identity.
The question is whether President Obama can advance his foreign policy aims -- expanding trade, increasing military cooperation, keeping China at bay -- and honor the rest of that 2009 inaugural address?
Htun Htun Wynn and Tin Win Maw both grew up in Myanmar's timber industry, and when they got married they decided to start the Green Hill Valley Elephant Sanctuary for several of the elephants.
Chris Lewa, the director of The Arakan Project, a research and advocacy group that monitors Rakhine State, told IRIN the number of Rohingyas that have fled western Myanmar since 2012 has now topped 100,000.
When President Obama and other world leaders arrive here in Burma, they need to press the government on a slew of human rights issues, ranging from constitutional issues to the Rohingya crisis. But they also need to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the context of Burma's armed conflicts.
While some nations have imposed voting as mandatory for all citizens, the process of disenfranchisement in the US appears to be tolerated and/or encouraged at least by some political elites who claim to represent us as a whole.
This week's release of All You Need Is Love, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, produced and directed by Stuart Cameron, and featuring the work by California's Muse School, will serve as a wake-up call for Americans whose knowledge of Burma's multiple crises is minimal.
A few years ago, when I was overcome with despair about the situation of my country, I thought about those who were in worse shape with regards to the lack of freedoms. Two nations invariably came to mind: North Korea and Burma.
Human rights would be empowered by a proportional and rational response, but knee-jerk fear has a history of racism in this country when it comes to public health. Unfortunately, current media reactions, prevalent in mainstream and social media, are fanning flames of xenophobia in America and withholding care from those that need it most.
Myanmar needs strong institutions to safely navigate its return to the global economy. Incomplete institutional frameworks, hamstrung by weak human resource capacity, are arguably Myanmar's biggest hurdle.
The Umbrella Revolution isn't over nor is it resolved, but rather only just beginning and gathering strength for the next opportunity. Beijing has no reason to celebrate a problem resolved, even as it refuses to choose a path toward democracy and rights.
Human rights are for all, and Burma's freedoms have been long fought for both inside the country and internationally that sought to increase freedoms and not to merely switch roles in a game of oppression. Let us move forward for human rights for all and to realizing the dream of the UDHR.