October 16, 2014

myanmar or is it burma?

Myanmar is the Burmese-language name for Burma, and always was, even in colonial times. Burma is the English-language name for Myanmar, and still is.  The Burmese government switched to using the Burmese-language name for the country in 1989 also switched to using the Burmese-language names for a number of places around the country.  
Myanmar has been shunned by most of the world because of it's human rights violations.  it is a country that imprisons people for disagreeing with the government.  and the list doesn't end there.  confiscation of private land, arbitrary arrest, forced labor, child soldiers, extrajudicial killings and ethnic cleansing are all on the menu. Aung Sun Suu Kyi is one of the most visible previous political prisoners.  it continues to rule by inflicting fear on the people.  

why Myanmar?  i've been asked alot.  i've had a bit of an obsession with Myanmar for years.  the temples, the stories from Orwell and Kipling.  the chance to see the country before there is a 7-11, starbucks and golden arches on every corner.  i wanted to go years ago but travel was discouraged because all the tourism money was going directly into the hands of the government.  with the slow removal of sanctions and increased freedoms for the citizens it's become easier to travel and avoid the government owned properties and tour companies.

for me, there is an excitement around the possibility of Myanmar's new and real independence.  the chance for it's people to live without the shadow of fear.  i'm not sure what i will find...

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