Country Profile• Capital: Nay Pyi Daw• Largest city: Rangoon (Yangon)• National Day: January 4• Population: 48.8 million• Area: 676,552 sq km (261,218 sq miles)• Major languages: Burmese, indigenous ethnic languages• Major religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam• Currency: Kyat
Burma/Myanmar ,Known as: Golden Land Land of Gems & Land of Immortality
Nay Pyi Daw (New Capital)Nay pyi daw means "Royal Palace/City", but is also translated as “seat ofkings”The administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved to agreenfield site two miles west of Pyinmana on 6 November 2005.Naypyidaw is approximately 320 kilometers north of Yangon. Thecapitals official name was announced on Armed Forces Day in March2006.
What’s in a name? The ruling military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. Many of the world’s governments – including New Zealand’s – have since adopted Myanmar as the official name of the country. Other countries, such as Britain and the USA, continue to refer to it as Burma. Burmas democracy movement prefers the Burma because they do not accept the legitimacy of the unelected military regime to change the official name of the country. Internationally, both names are recognized.
History and Current Government• First Burmese empire --- Pagan Kingdom (849-1287)• Second Burmese empire --- Toungoo Dynasty (1486-1752)• Third Burmese empire Konbaung Dynasty (1753-1885)• War with Britain (1824-1852) - (1st Anglo-Burmese War)• British Lower Burma (1852-1885) – (2nd Anglo-Burmese War)• British Upper Burma (1885-1886) – (3rd Anglo-Burmese War)• British rule in Burma (1886-1948) – ( A province of India)• Nationalist Movement in Burma (after 1886)• Japanese occupation of Burma (1942-1945) --- WW II• Independence from British (Jan 4, 1948)
History and Current Government• Post-Independence Burma (1948-1962)• Military Era (1962 -1988) (Burmese Way to Socialism: One-party system )• 8888 Uprising (1988) ( Fight for democracy) Aung San Suu Kyi Than Shwe (The Lady) (The Dictator)• Military Junta (1989-present)Head – Senior General Than Shwe (State Peace and Development Council - SPDC)(Ranked number 6 in the world’s worst dictator list (2007) compiled by Parade Magazineof USA, an improvement from last year’s (2006) list when he was number 3.Opposition Leader: Aung San Suu Kyi ( National League for Democracy – NLD)
Daughter of Burmese independence leader Gen Aung San.In August 1988, began addressing Burmese people about politicalchange and received large amounts of support.Secretary-general of the National League of Democracy Party,1988-present. Placed under house arrest from 1989-1995.In 1991, awarded Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought andthe Nobel Peace Prize. (Oct 14, 1991)Continues to play major role in Burma’s democratic struggle.Placed under house arrest again from Sept 2000 to May 2002, andcurrently she is under house arrest again since May 2003.She has received more than 10 honorary doctorates degrees, USpresidential medal of freedom(2000) and many other awards.
The Long Struggle for Democracy The people of Burma are locked in one of the world’s great freedom struggles. Democracy was conceded in 1948 after more than a century of British rule and, although beset by some ethnic strife, survived until an army coup in 1962. Burma has suffered under military dictatorship for the past 46 years.
In 1988, students, workers, and others launched nationwide protestscalling for freedom and democracy.The military responded by gunning down thousands of demonstrators ina massacre worse than the more publicized Tiananmen Square massacrethe following year.General Thein Swe has acknowledged that the 1988 demonstrationscame close to toppling the military government, and elections were heldin 1990 in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy(NLD) won 82% of the seats. But by then the military were firmly back incontrol.
Brutal and Corrupt regimeBurma is ruled by one of the most brutal and corrupt regimes in the world,responsible for: • The widespread use of forced labour. • Over 1 million people forced from their homes. • At least 2092 political prisoners, many of whom are routinely tortured. • More than 70,000 child soldiers - more than any other country in the world.
• Rape as a weapon of war against ethnic women and children.• Nearly half the government budget spent on the military and just 23 cents per person per year on health.• One in ten babies die before their fifth birthday.
Free Political Prisoners“The release of political prisoners is the most important thing for all thosewho trulywish to bring about change in Burma.” Aung San Suu Kyi - 2002There are more than 2092 political prisoners in Burma. In the past year morethan 900 activists have been arrested, including 13 leading members of the 88Generation Students’ Group.Political prisoners suffer severe physical and psychological torture, starvation,and serious health problems caused by the prison conditions.Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself is Burma’s most famous political prisoner.
Economic and social life All aspects of life are dominated by the military. Burma is unique in being runfor and by a military elite and their families, so that trade and investment directlyfeed the wealth and power of the armed forces rather than ordinary people. In areas where the junta faces opposition from ethnic groups, it has razedwhole villages and forced people to move to areas where it can control moreeffectively. Landmines are laid in the areas where people used to live. Morethan 1 million people have had to leave their homes as a result of thesepolicies. About 150,000 live in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, mainlyThailand.All publications are censored. Radio & television is state controlled, andcellphone and internet access is denied to most of the population. Outdoormeetings of more than 5 people are banned. Unions and strikes are outlawed.
The ruling JuntaThe ruling generals and the army stand accused of gross human rights abusesparticularly against ethnic minorities. “These abuses include censorship, persecution, torture, disappearances,extrajudicial executions, the curtailing of religious freedom anddemolition of places of workship, forced relocations, rapes and forcedlabour”. US State Department 2004Burma’s 400,000-strong army is the second largest in South East Asia.Almost 50% of the government budget is spent on the military. China is estimated to supply 90% of Burma’s extensive military hardware. With the 10th largest gas reserves in the world, Burma is seen as strategicimportant energy resource.
The Ethnic Minorities A peaceful and democratic Burma requires harmony among the countrys diverse ethnic groups. The Union of Burma became independent in I948 only after extensive negotiations led by General Aung San, who convinced ethnic minority groups to join the new union. Most of Burmas ethnic minorities inhabit areas along the countrys mountainous frontiers. Karen and Shan groups comprise about I0% each, while Akha, Chin, Chinese, Danu, Indian, Kachin, Karenni, Kayan, Kokang, Lahu, Mon, Naga, Palaung, Pao, Rakhine, Rohingya, Tavoyan, and Wa peoples each constitute 5% or less of the population.
•The principal demands of Burmas ethnic minorities are to gain genuineautonomy for their home areas and to achieve a significant voice in theaffairs of the country as a whole. Few demand total independence as theirultimate goal. Since its 1988 coup, the military junta has negotiated cease-fires with most armed ethnic opposition groups and waged fierce assaultsagainst others.•The umbrella organisation for pro-democracy organisations, the NationalCouncil of the Union of Burma (NCUB) aims to bring about a federaldemocracy that guarantees equality to all ethnic groups.
The Democratic MovementWhen the ruling generals denied democratic governmentfollowing the resounding National League for Democracy(NLD) electoral victory in 1990, pro-democracy organizationsformed the National Coalition Government of the Union ofBurma (NCGUB).
•NCGUBThe National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.•NCUBThe National Council of the Union of Burma
Movements:UN Must ActForced LabourThe FTUBChild SoldiersForeign Investment in BurmaInternational BoycottThe Tourism BoycottCyclone NargisPrison for those who help
MYANMAR Timeline1947 - Pre-independence leader Aung San and six members of his interimgovernment assassinated by political opponents 1948 - Burma, after more than 100 years of British domination, becomesindependent with U Nu as prime minister.1962 - Military coup led by Gen Ne Win. U Nu imprisoned, economynationalized and a single-party state formed.1987 - Student protests in Rangoon after currency devaluation makes 75% ofmoney in circulation worthless.
1988 - Student riots force Ne Wins resignation but thousands die during massdemonstrations for democracy in cities and villages throughout Burma. AungSan Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, returns to Burma to lead newly formedNational League for Democracy (NLD).1989 - The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) declaresmartial law, arrests thousands of people, including advocates of democracy andhuman rights, renames Burma Myanmar, with the capital, Rangoon, becomingYangon. Aung San Suu Kyi is put under house arrest. 1990 - SLORCO allows the first multi-party elections and NLD wins landslidevictory, but the result is ignored by the military. Eight NLD MPs flee to Thaiborder and set up the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma(NCGUB)..
1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi, still under house arrest, is awarded Nobel PeacePrize for her commitment to peaceful change.1997 - Burma admitted to Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean);SLORC renamed State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).2003 – Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been released in 2002, is arrested. USbans imports from Burma, freezes assets in US and denies US visas to juntaofficials.2004 - New Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt convenes a constitutionalconvention on new constitution despite boycott by NLD. The conventionadjourns in July.2004 October – SPDC sacks Khin Nyunt and replaces him with hard-linerGeneral Soe Win.
2005 February - Constitutional convention resumes, but without theparticipation of the main opposition and ethnic groups. Talks end in January2006 with no reports of any clear outcomes.2007 - Wave of public dissent sparked by fuel price hikes. Military governmentdeclares 14 years of constitutional talks complete and closes the NationalConvention. Pro-democracy demonstrations throughout Burma led by Buddhistmonks (the Saffron Revolution) is brutally suppressed.2008 April - Government publishes proposed new constitution, which allocatesa quarter of seats in parliament to the military and bans opposition leader AungSan Suu Kyi from holding office. To be put to national referendum on 10 May.2008 May – Cyclone Nargis hits the low-lying Irrawaddy delta. Someestimates put the death toll as high as 134,000. Referendum proceeds amidhumanitarian crisis. Government claims 92% support for draft constitution.