Myanmar

Posted by Ellen

Smoke break at the marketplace in Bagan, Myanmar.

"The people are too poor to buy real cigarettes or cigars," noted the photographer. "There are many vendors in the market selling cigarettes or cigars made from local plants, mixed in with a little tobacco, rolled in local leaves. My guess is that smoking is not their biggest health hazard."

Posted by Ellen

After more than fifteen years of imprisonment and house arrest, Myanmar's renowned democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released by military authorities in time to participate in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Huge crowds, including these Buddhist monks in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, gathered to support Suu Kyi and her fellow candidates from the National League for Democracy, which won 43 of 45 contested seats and chose Suu Kyi as official leader of the opposition.

Monks had long been active in the struggle against Myanmar's military regime; many had been shot for pro-democracy activities. Suu Kyi's release from detention signaled a new stage in the country's political development, which was celebrated enthusiastically.

Even today, civil liberties are still tightly restricted in Myanmar and the military has loosened its grasp only incrementally.

But shortly after the 2012 election, Suu Kyi was finally able to travel to Stockholm, where she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize that she had been awarded in absentia twenty years earlier.