An unexpectedly warm day welcomed us back to campus today for the first day of the spring semester. Already we have ideas for post-trip activism, discussed during one of the "reflection" sessions during the trip. Among these are: photography exhibition, film screening, guest speakers from US Campaign for Burma or the US Institute for Peace, etc. We are also planning to restart the AU chapter of the Student Campaign for Burma this semester.
Major developments have been observed even as we left the Thai-Burma border region. For example last Friday, 651 prisoners, including high-profile former politicians, democracy activists, monks, etc.
Perhaps a little too swiftly, the U.S. reciprocated with an announcement that it granting full diplomatic ties with Burma after a 20-year absence (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/US-Will-Post-Ambassador-in-Burma-Move-Follows-Prisoner-Release-137309338.html)
However, there are still 1547 political prisoners currently incarcerated in Burma yet to be released (figures from the Assistance Assoc. for Political Prisoners, Jan. 2012). More recent news suggests a possible lifting of sanctions depending on the upcoming by-elections on April 1 (http://www.npr.org/2012/01/03/144629632/u-s-keeps-pressure-on-myanmar-for-political-change). Let's hope that the Burmese government doesn't celebrate April Fool's Day.
*Coming soon: posts from our members about the trip! Thoughts, memories, photos, etc.