Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Myanmar - random facts.

Myanmar is a state of some 55 million inhabitants. In 1988, the country was taken over by a military dictatorship, which remains in power despite free elections in 1990, resulting in the election of Aung San Suu Kyi (see here). Though it is presently named Myanmar, many countries, including Canada, the United States and Australia have refused to adopt this title in official policy, in an effort to undermine the authority of the ruling junta. Though this is wonderful solidarity, it seems to pale in comparison to the continued human rights violations perpetrated by the ruling dictatorship, and the lack of freedoms the citizens of Burma continue to experience, including the continued detainment of their democratically elected leader. Though western countries hold few strings when it comes to influencing Burma’s domestic policies, China does. It is also another country that has refused to adopt the modern, dictatorial “Myanmar”.

Also...junta is a word stemming from Spanish and Portuguese signifying “a military or political group that rules a country after taking power by force” – I did not know this, and thought I would share the discovery.

In 2005, the capital of Burma was moved from the coastal city of Yangon (Rangoon) to the brand new city of Naypyidaw, located in a more strategic, central inland region. In fact, the city was founded this same year. Despite the problems associated with moving and entire government into a brand new city (no stores, no schools, no hospitals, no police, no telephones etc.) things have ironed themselves out, as the shiny new capital is now home to some 900 000 people, complete with working phones, hospitals, schools and even its own vast slums.

Some have called this new mountain-top capital a fortress in which the ruling General Than Shwe might maintain his military power. It is said that the chosen date of inauguration of the city was suggested from his astrologist, as this day would give General Shwe unending military power.

Others, however, see this mountainous citadel as a way for the General to hide from his own people...

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." - V for Vandetta

Or as one philosopher put it...

"the prince who has more to fear from the people than from foreigners ought to build fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners than from the people ought to leave them alone."

(check this out)