From the Document: "On March 30, 2011, Burma's ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), formally transferred power to a quasi-civilian parliament, ending 50 years of military rule. The new Burmese government, headed by President Thein Sein, soon embarked on a series of political reforms ostensibly designed to continue the nation's transformation to an elected democracy under the rule of law. These changes have led the Obama Administration to waive many of the sanctions on Burma, and initiated discussion in Congress regarding if and when to consider the possible removal of sanctions currently being imposed on Burma. No single issue may play a more pivotal role in Burma's possible transition to a free and democratic country than the release of its political prisoners. Several opposition parties have stated that they will not participate in parliamentary elections or hold discussions on national reconciliation until their members are unconditionally freed from detention. The status of Burma's political prisoners is also a critical issue for possible changes in U.S. policy. The full removal of many of the U.S. sanctions on Burma is contingent on certain conditions, including the release of all political prisoners."
CRS Report for Congress, R42363