Monday, April 2, 2012

  • From Prison to Parliament: Burma Pro-Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi Wins Seat in Landmark Vote


    After more than 15 years in detention, Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won a seat in parliament, sparking scenes of jubilation among supporters. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party had not participated in Burma’s politics since 1990, when it won a landslide victory in a general election but remained unrecognized by the military junta. We speak with Suu Kyi’s biographer, Peter Popham, a reporter with The Independent of London, who himself has been deported from Burma and has met twice with Suu Kyi. "It would have been extraordinary if [Suu Kyi] had lost. But the scale of the victory, winning almost every single seat they contested, is a terrific endorsement of her stand during the campaign and also her incredible persistence and patience over all these years," Popham says. As for the prospect of Suu Kyi mounting a bid for the Burmese presidency, Popham says, "I don’t think it’s beyond the bounds of possibility." [includes rush transcript]

  • Bahraini Hunger Striker’s Life in Peril as U.S.-Backed Forces Continue Anti-Democracy Crackdown


    The U.S.-backed monarchy in Bahrain continues the crackdown on protesters, with reports of many injuries and at least one death over the weekend. We speak to Zainab Alkhawaja, the daughter of jailed human rights leader Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, who is now on the 54th day of his hunger strike. Doctors say her father could go into a coma at any point, and she has called on President Obama to pressure the government Bahrain, its strategic ally in the region, to secure his release. "With one word from the American government, my father would be released. I am sure of that," Alkhawaja says. "But right now, Americans are more — the American administration, not Americans, is more concerned with their interests than they are with human rights and the lives of Bahrainis and democracy in Bahrain." Zainab herself is an activist and has been detained in the past for protesting, most recently in February on the anniversary of the country’s pro-democracy movement. She reads a poem she wrote about her father while she was in jail called, "The Sultan Digs My Father’s Grave." We’re also joined by Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who was just released from detention. A police statement said Rajab was detained on charges linked to "illegal" demonstrations. His lawyer says he may stand trial in the future. [includes rush transcript]

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