From the Archive: Photos of Burma’s Historic By-elections

By Kyaw Zwa Moe 7 October 2015

In the days leading up to the early April by-election that put opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Parliament, the streets were alive with enthusiasm and excitement over The Lady and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). Iconic imagery lined the avenues of Rangoon and nearly every taxi that traversed them. Photographers clambered up trees and over fences to catch a glimpse of Suu Kyi as she arrived at polling stations or rally points.

In Wah Thin Kha village, where Suu Kyi spent the night on the eve of the vote, locals said the crowds surpassed any festival the area had ever seen. Children donning NLD T-shirts and stickers on their faces shouted “Mother Suu! Mother Suu!” whenever a vehicle passed by.

Local people, young and old alike, were outspoken when interviewed by journalists from all over the world. There was no fear on their faces, even in front of large TV cameras. A 95-year-old Karen woman, Daw Aye, said openly just before entering the polling station, “I will vote for Aung San Suu Kyi.”

As a general election nears on Nov. 8 and Suu Kyi once again takes to the road to rally her supporters, The Irrawaddy looks back on this photo series documenting the historic vote and the exhilarating atmosphere that swept the nation just before the poll.