Recent gestures by Burma's political leadership offer a glimpse of optimism for future reform. Still, many Burmese remain cautious as fighting continues in ethnic minority regions where most of the country's Christians are located.
The nation's military-backed leadership reached a cease-fire agreement in January with a major ethnic Karen army and freed hundreds of political prisoners. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last year from 15 years of house arrest, plans to run in a parliamentary election in April.
"You can see evidences of people being joyful," said Vision Beyond Borders founder Patrick Klein, who has seen photos of Suu Kyi on billboards and t-shirts and businesses opening in Burma. "Because so much of the world is watching Burma, it's going to be a lot harder to have a sham election."
Since 1999, the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report has listed Burma, which now calls itself Myanmar, as a "country of particular concern," one ...1