Today Aung Sung Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's democracy movement and a member of Burma's Parliament, receives the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington. Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest in Burma, as an enemy of the military, but beloved by the Burmese people. She was released in November 2010, and in an incredible triumph, Suu Kyi was elected to Burma's Parliament in April of this year.
Unlike the Arab Spring uprisings, Burma's transition from military dictatorship has happened slowly, with the country's leaders gradually opening once-isolated Burma to the rest of the world.
The last few years of this struggle have been documented in Robert Lieberman's new documentary, "They Call It Myanmar."
Lieberman has been genuinely impressed by Suu Kyi. "Aung Sung Suu Kyi is absolutely unique, stunning, vibrant, and incredibly honest and incorruptible, unlike the cronies who control the resources of this very rich country." But given her incredible moral fortitude, some have expressed concern at her choice to go into politics. A friend of Robert Lieberman's who runs a non-governmental organization in Burma says she may have made a mistake by becoming a politician, rather than remaining out of the arena like Desmond Tutu or even Gandhi. Lieberman says, "the question is, will she be co-opted?"
Nevertheless, Suu Kyi made this decision to go into politics, and to try to make a difference. The country still faces a host of problems, from education to health care to corruption, but Suu Kyi remains optimistic. "We are not yet at the end of our struggle, but we are getting there," she told an audience at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington yesterday.