Suu Kyi photo exhibit opens in hometown Yangon

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, during the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition at the Institut Francaise in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, May 17, 2012. The photo exhibition titled ' Aung San Suu Kyi, The Burmese Way to Democracy ' will held from May 17 to May 25. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

By YADANA HTUN
Associated Press

A photography exhibit about Aung San Suu Kyi's successful campaign for Parliament is showing just how far Myanmar has come since ending a half century of military rule.

The works being shown in Suu Kyi's hometown of Yangon were taken by local photojournalists. Before President Thein Sein's government began its reforms last year, photos of Suu Kyi were rarely seen in the tightly controlled media. But since then, there has been a flowering of new publications, and her image - a selling point - is hard to avoid.

An enthusiastic Suu Kyi attended the vernissage Thursday of "Aung San Suu Kyi: The Burmese Way to Democracy," which catalogues the historic political campaign that propelled the longtime political prisoner to a seat in Parliament.

Touring the exhibit with the photojournalists who took the images, she thanked them for capturing moments of the campaign that she hadn't originally noticed.

"The colors in the photos are really beautiful, especially my umbrellas," a smiling Suu Kyi said. she is fond of colorful parasols to shade against the strong sun in Myanmar.

She paused at a photo taken in her constituency, Kawhmu township, showing her greeting supporters from her campaign van. Dressed in a blue traditional Burmese outfit, Suu Kyi's red party flag flies in the wind set against a green bamboo umbrella in the background.

"This is the photo I liked the most," she said. "It's in Kawhmu township and it's colorful."

The exhibit includes 25 poster-sized photographs taken by Burmese photographers, Aung Pyae, Pyay Kyaw Myint and Min Zayar. Many of the images were published in international publications during the campaign, including Paris Match magazine, Le Monde newspaper and the International Herald Tribune.

The exhibit is part of the ongoing "Yangon Photo Festival" organized by the French Institute. It travels to France for the International Festival of Photography and will be displayed in Arles from July 2-Sept. 23.

The photos "are very special because Suu Kyi is special," said Christophe Loviny, the festival's artistic director, who said the images captured the special bond she has with the people of Myanmar. "When she meets the people there is a chemical reaction."

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