This is thought as a thread dedicated to Burmese affairs. Being one of the most seclusive places in the world, with zero coverage from mainstream
media, I find it needed -maybe even wanted- with a thread on Burma.
All news on Burma will fit here, but the local news stories tend to take place along the Northern border between China and Thailand, in the Shan
State, the biggest of the territories making up the Union of Myanmar.
I welcome any member to post anything concerning Burma, to create a spotlight on its matters.
Since 1962 a Military Rule, Burma is the vast territory of some of the larger patches of jungle forrests left on the planet, stretching from
Assam/East Bengal to the Salween River, going far up towards the Tibetan Plateau and wide down along the Andaman coast of the Ishmus of Kra.
Despite the last decades of rapid development and booming economy in the surrounding countries, it remains largely undeveloped on a preindustrialized
stage. It is about number 150 in GDP per capacita. 25 percent greater in area than Thailand, it has about 30 percent less its population.
Myanmar, the official name since 1989, was named Burma by the British after the ruling ethnic group, the Burmans. They conquered the land in 3
Anglo-Burman wars from 1825 to 1885. Originally a part of Greater India they in 1937 , because of continious civil unrest, had to make it a seperat
This unrest, which started as soon as insurgency was stifled round the turn of 1900, seems to have stemmed from a typical arrogant British
stiff-upperlip-attitude, refered to as 'the Shoe Question': The colonisers’ refusal to remove their shoes upon entering Buddhist temples or other
In 1919, an incident in Mandalay was the scene of violence when tempers flared after scandalised Buddhist monks attempted to physically expel a group
of shoe-wearing British visitors. The leader of the monks was later sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder.
Yes, railroads, schools and prisons the British brought, by and large the people of Mayanmar hasn't recieved much since. The whole country is on a
rundown 1950's niveau.
The major obstruction for a unity and consencus is an enormous ethnical diversity, not seen many places else. The buttom line shows 8 major ethnic
groups and 135 so-called ‘national’ or ‘principal races’. The 135 ‘principal races’ are generally consider the aboriginal dwellers of the
land. Where the major ethnic groups makes up more than 80 percent of the population and largely are Buddhist, the indiginous people are for the
greater part practisers of animism and shamanism.
After indepence in 1948, a prolonged decade of democracy the country had ended in turmoil and social upheavels, threatning to turn into a proletarian
rule. in 1962 General Ne Win siezed power an introduced his Burmese Way to Socialism
It included mainstream socialist ideals like nationalisation.
However, it also encouraged more unorthodox views, includeding severe isolationism, expulsion of foreigners, discouragement of tourists, closing off
of the economy, repression of minorities. In short, a police state, as closed as N Korea.
The opression made the cry for democracy ever louder. In 1989 General Saw Maung staged a coup d'état and formed the
State Law and Order Restoration Council
. He tried to meet the popular
demand and set up election for the People's Assembly. Unfortunately it lead to a huge victory for
Aung San Suu Kyi
National League for Democracy
winning 392 out of total 489 seats. The election
result was cancelled by the junta. In the aftermath and the furore it created, Than Shwe took over, and is still considered the proper ruler of the
The election result remains to this day to be acknowledged.
The Shan State is notorious not only for its part in the drug trade, but for being part of an insurgency involving several ethnic groups, an armed
conflict that has raged since the British left. Shans are one of the only minorities having not just its own state, but also selfrule from Rangoon.
The grant is paid with loyalty and is renewed every ten years. Previous deals gave them the right to produce opium and sell it as well. However
tightened international presure have forced the generals to skip that part of the deal. Instead they are given full recognition in military terms.
Shan St Army now fights the Wa Army as proxy for the junta. At least that's what it's soupposed to look like.
The Wa people are a minority of S China and the Shan State. They dominate the Northern and Eastern part to a degree they defacto rules those parts.
Which makes the strugle for controll an endless game, only for warlords and drugpins to profite from.
To further complicate the picture the Shans are of Tai (Dai) origine as the Thais are, speaks a similar tongue and are Theravada Buddhists like them.
Fact Shan comes from the same root as Siam, Siang Dam
(litterally meaning 'land of blacks'], the label the Chinese have used for thousand of
years for Thais. The ethnic bloodband between them and the Shans have complecated Thai-Burmese relations for forty years. Largely because of the opium
trade as it was setup, a spin-off of the Indochina wars and CIA's involvement. The Thais were the ones to poifit from it, the commodity had to go to
Bangkok to get anywhere. 'Had to', it still does, though the peak production was before the terror wars of USA was started.
We now know Afghanistan has taken the lead in opium production, but the turnover and amount of traffic from the Golden Triangle has in no sense
declined. Now they produce methamphetamines on an industrial scale for the local market, and also for some export to US and European markets. The
profits are tenfold higher in this pure chemical business than it was in the semi-agro production of opium and heroin.
These issues and a lot more I shall try to address in upcoming posts, please contribute.
For orientation, a couple of maps.
Union of Myanmar
Map showing the area relative to SE Asia
....and the current drug route.
Resources used for this article:
www.iseas.edu.sg...Ethnic and Religious Diversity:
Myanmar’s Unfolding Nemesis
Other threads about Myanmar: (please post, if you know of any)
Russia to build atomic plant for Burmese junta
Hundreds Of Monks Seize Government Officials In Myanmar
[edit on 18-9-2007 by khunmoon]