MYANMAR

RSS NEWS
+ ADD TO YOUR WEBSITE
+ ADD TO WORDPRESS
                     

Myanmar Wikipedia


  (Redirected from Myanmar)

You may need rendering support to display the Burmese script in this article correctly.
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်
Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw
FlagState seal
Anthem: 
  • Kaba Ma Kyei
  • Till the End of the World


  • Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.


    You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
Location of  Burma  (green)in ASEAN  (dark grey)
Location of  Burma  (green)

in ASEAN  (dark grey)
CapitalNaypyidaw


19°45′N 96°6′E / 19.750°N 96.100°E / 19.750; 96.100
Largest cityYangon (Rangoon)
Official languagesBurmese
Recognised regional languages
  • Jingpho
  • Kayah
  • Karen



  • Chin
  • Mon
  • Rakhine
  • Shan
Official scriptsBurmese script
Ethnic groups ()
  • 68% Burman
  • 9% Shan
  • 7% Karen
  • 4% Rakhine
  • 3% Chinese
  • 2% Indian
  • 2% Mon
  • 5% other
DemonymBurmese / Myanma
GovernmentUnitary presidential constitutional republic
 - PresidentThein Sein
 - Vice Presidents
  • Sai Mauk Kham
  • Nyan Tun
LegislatureAssembly of the Union
 - Upper houseHouse of Nationalities
 - Lower houseHouse of Representatives
Formation
 - Pagan Dynasty23 December 849 
 - Toungoo Dynasty16 October 1510 
 - Konbaung Dynasty29 February 1752 
 - Independence

(from United Kingdom)
4 January 1948 
 - Coup d'état2 March 1962 
 - New constitution30 March 2011 
Area
 - Total676,578 km2 (40th)


261,227 sq mi
 - Water (%)3.06
Population
 - 2012 estimate61,120,000 (24th)
 - 1983 census35,442,972
 - Density73.9/km2 (119th)


191.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2013 estimate
 - Total$111.120 billion
 - Per capita$1,711
GDP (nominal)2013 estimate
 - Total$59.427 billion
 - Per capita$915
HDI (2012)Increase 0.498


low · 149th
CurrencyKyat (K) (MMK)
Time zoneMST (UTC+06:30)
Drives on therightb
Calling code+95
ISO 3166 codeMM
Internet TLD.mm
a.Some governments recognise Yangon (Rangoon) as the


national capital.
b.Road infrastructure is still for driving on the left.
Burma (Listeni/ˈbɜrmə/ BUR-mə), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, commonly shortened to Myanmar (Listeni/ˈmjɑːnˌmɑr/ MYAHN-mar, /ˈmaɪænmɑr/ or /ˈmjænmɑr/), is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia bordered by Laos, Thailand, China, Bangladesh, and India. One third of Burma's total perimeter of 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Burma's population of over 60 million makes it the world's 24th most populous country and, at 676,578 square kilometres (261,227 sq mi), it is the world's 40th largest country and the second largest in Southeast Asia.

Early civilizations in Burma included the Tibeto-Burman speaking Pyu in Upper Burma and the Mon in Lower Burma. In the 9th century, the Burmans of the Kingdom of Nanzhao entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Empire in the 1050s, the Burmese language and culture slowly became dominant in the country. During this period, Theravada Buddhism gradually became the predominant religion of the country. The Pagan Empire fell due to the Mongol invasions (1277–1301), and several warring states emerged. In the second half of the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo Dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. The early 19th century Konbaung Dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Burma and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British conquered Burma after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony (a part of India until 1937 and then a separately administered colony). Burma became an independent nation in 1948, initially as a democratic nation and then, following a coup in 1962, a military dictatorship which formally ended in 2011.

For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and a myriad of Burma's ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running unresolved civil wars. During this time, the United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed. Although the military retains enormous influence through the constitution that was ratified in 2008, it has taken steps toward relinquishing control of the government. This, along with the release of Burma's most prominent human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, and many other political prisoners, has improved the country's human rights record and foreign relations and has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions that had been imposed by the European Union and the United States. There is, however, continuing criticism of the government's treatment of the largely Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority and its poor response to the religious clashes that have occurred throughout the nation, described by various human rights organizations as a policy of ethnic cleansing.

Burma is a country rich in jade and gems, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. In 2011, its GDP stood at US$53.14 billion and was estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 5.5%. Despite good economic growth, it is believed that Burma's economic potential won't be easily achieved due to the nation's lack of development. As of 2013, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), Burma has one of the lowest levels of human development in the world.

Contents

                Etymology

                Main article: Names of Burma
                In 1989, the military government officially changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma's colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: "Burma" became "Myanmar". The renaming remains a contested issue. Many political and ethnic opposition groups and countries continue to use "Burma" because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country.

                The country's official full name is the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar" Listeni/ˈmjɑːnˌmɑr/ (Burmese: ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်, Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw, pronounced: [pjìdàʊɴzṵ θàɴməda̰ mjəmà nàɪɴŋàɴdɔ̀]). Some countries, however, have not recognized this name and use the short form "Union of Burma" instead.

                In English, the country is popularly known by either of its short names "Burma" or "Myanmar". Both these names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group. Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the group, while Burma is derived from "Bamar", the colloquial form of the group's name. Depending on the register used, the pronunciation would be Bama (pronounced: [bəmà]) or Myamah (pronounced: [mjəmà]). The name Burma has been in use in English since the 18th century.

                Burma continues to be used in English by the governments of many countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada. Official United States policy retains Burma as the country's name, although the State Department's website lists the country as "Burma (Myanmar)" and Barack Obama has referred to the country as Myanmar. The United Nations uses Myanmar, as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, Germany, China, India, Norway, and Japan.

                Most English-speaking international news media officially refer to the country by the name Myanmar, including the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters, and Russia Today.

                There are also other variations. Burma is known as "Birmania" in Spanish, Italian and Romanian, as "Birmânia" in Portuguese, and as "Birmanie" in French. The Government of Brazil uses "Mianmar".

                History

                Main article: History of Burma

                Prehistory

                Main articles: Prehistory of Burma, Pyu city-states and Mon city-states



                Neolithic paintings found inside Padah-Lin Caves, radiocarbon dated up to 13,000 years ago
                Archaeological evidence shows that Homo erectus lived in the region now known as Burma as early as 400,000 years ago. The first evidence of Homo sapiens is dated to about 11,000 BC, in a Stone Age culture called the Anyathian with discoveries of stone tools in central Burma. Evidence of neolithic age domestication of plants and animals and the use of polished stone tools dating to sometime between 10,000 and 6,000 BC has been discovered in the form of cave paintings near the city of Taunggyi. The Bronze Age arrived circa 1500 BC when people in the region were turning copper into bronze, growing rice and domesticating poultry and pigs; they were among the first people in the world to do so. The Iron Age began around 500 BC with the emergence of iron-working settlements in an area south of present-day Mandalay. Evidence also shows the presence of rice-growing settlements of large villages and small towns that traded with their surroundings as far as China between 500 BC and 200 AD. Iron Age Burmese cultures also had influences from outside sources such as India and Thailand, as seen in their funerary practices concerning child burials. This indicates some form of communcation between groups in Burma and other places, possibly through trade.

                Around the 2nd century BC the first-known city-states emerged in central Burma. The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu, the earliest inhabitants of Burma of whom records are extant, from present-day Yunnan. The Pyu culture was heavily influenced by trade with India, importing Buddhism as well as other cultural, architectural and political concepts which would have an enduring influence on later Burmese culture and political organization. By the 9th century AD several city-states had sprouted across the land: the Pyu states in the central dry zone, Mon states along the southern coastline and Arakanese states along the western littoral. The balance was upset when the Pyu states came under repeated attacks from the Kingdom of Nanzhao between the 750s and the 830s. In the mid-to-late 9th century the Mranma (Burmans/Bamar) of Nanzhao founded a small settlement at Pagan (Bagan). It was one of several competing city-states until the late 10th century when it grew in authority and grandeur.

                Imperial Burma

                Main articles: Pagan Kingdom, Toungoo Dynasty and Konbaung Dynasty
                See also: Ava Kingdom, Hanthawaddy Kingdom, Mrauk U Kingdom and Shan states



                Pagodas and temples in present-day Pagan (Bagan), the capital of the Pagan Kingdom
                Pagan gradually grew to absorb its surrounding states until the 1050s–1060s when Anawrahta founded the Pagan Empire, the first ever unification of the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Pagan Empire and the Khmer Empire were two main powers in mainland Southeast Asia. The Burmese language and culture gradually became dominant in the upper Irrawaddy valley, eclipsing the Pyu, Mon and Pali norms by the late 12th century. Theravada Buddhism slowly began to spread to the village level although Tantric, Mahayana, Brahmanic, and animist practices remained heavily entrenched. Pagan's rulers and wealthy built over 10,000 Buddhist temples in the Pagan capital zone alone. Repeated Mongol invasions (1277–1301) toppled the four-century-old kingdom in 1287.



                Temples at Mrauk U
                Pagan's collapse was followed by 250 years of political fragmentation that lasted well into the 16th century. Like the Burmans four centuries earlier, Shan migrants who arrived with the Mongol invasions stayed behind. Several competing Shan states came to dominate the entire northwestern to eastern arc surrounding the Irrawaddy valley. The valley too was beset with petty states until the late 14th century when two sizable powers, Ava Kingdom and Hanthawaddy Kingdom, emerged. In the west, a politically fragmented Arakan was under competing influences of its stronger neighbors until the Kingdom of Mrauk U unified the Arakan coastline for the first time in 1437.

                Early on, Ava fought wars of unification (1385–1424) but could never quite reassemble the lost empire. Having held off Ava, Hanthawaddy entered its golden age, and Arakan went on to become a power in its own right for the next 350 years. In contrast, constant warfare left Ava greatly weakened, and it slowly disintegrated from 1481 onward. In 1527, the Confederation of Shan States conquered Ava itself, and ruled Upper Burma until 1555.

                Like the Pagan Empire, Ava, Hanthawaddy and the Shan states were all multi-ethnic polities. Despite the wars, cultural synchronization continued. This period is considered a golden age for Burmese culture. Burmese literature "grew more confident, popular, and stylistically diverse", and the second generation of Burmese law codes as well as the earliest pan-Burma chronicles emerged. Hanthawaddy monarchs introduced religious reforms that later spread to the rest of the country. Many splendid temples of Mrauk U were built during this period.



                Bayinnaung's Empire in 1580
                Political unification returned in the mid-16th century, due to the efforts of one tiny Toungoo (Taungoo), a former vassal state of Ava. Toungoo's young, ambitious king Tabinshwehti defeated the more powerful Hanthawaddy in 1541. His successor Bayinnaung went on to conquer a vast swath of mainland Southeast Asia including the Shan states, Lan Na, Manipur, the Chinese Shan states, Siam, Lan Xang and southern Arakan. However, the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia unravelled soon after Bayinnaung's death in 1581, completely collapsing by 1599. Siam seized Tenasserim and Lan Na, and Portuguese mercenaries established Portuguese rule at Syriam (Thanlyin).

                The dynasty regrouped and defeated the Portuguese in 1613 and Siam in 1614. It restored a smaller, more manageable kingdom, encompassing Lower Burma, Upper Burma, Shan states, Lan Na and upper Tenasserim. The Restored Toungoo kings created a legal and political framework whose basic features would continue well into the 19th century. The crown completely replaced the hereditary chieftainships with appointed governorships in the entire Irrawaddy valley, and greatly reduced the hereditary rights of Shan chiefs. Its trade and secular administrative reforms built a prosperous economy for more than 80 years. From the 1720s onward, the kingdom was beset with repeated Manipuri raids into Upper Burma, and a nagging rebellion in Lan Na. In 1740, the Mon of Lower Burma founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom. Hanthawaddy forces sacked Ava in 1752, ending the 266-year-old Toungoo Dynasty.



                A British 1825 lithograph of Shwedagon Pagoda shows British occupation during the First Anglo-Burmese War.
                After the fall of Ava, one resistance group, Alaungpaya's Konbaung Dynasty defeated Restored Hanthawaddy, and by 1759, had reunited all of Burma (and Manipur), and driven out the French and the British who had provided arms to Hanthawaddy. By 1770, Alaungpaya's heirs had subdued much of Laos (1765), defeated Siam (1767), and defeated four invasions by China (1765–1769). With Burma preoccupied by the Chinese threat, Siam recovered its territories by 1770, and went on to capture Lan Na by 1776. Burma and Siam went to war until 1855, but all resulted in a stalemate, exchanging Tenasserim (to Burma) and Lan Na (to Siam). Faced with a powerful China and a resurgent Siam in the east, King Bodawpaya turned west, acquiring Arakan (1785), Manipur (1814) and Assam (1817). It was the second largest empire in Burmese history but also one with a long ill-defined border with British India.

                The breadth of this empire was short lived. Burma lost Arakan, Manipur, Assam and Tenasserim to the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). In 1852, the British easily seized Lower Burma in the Second Anglo-Burmese War. King Mindon tried to modernize the kingdom, and in 1875 narrowly avoided annexation by ceding the Karenni States. The British, alarmed by the consolidation of French Indo-China, annexed the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885.

                Konbaung kings extended Restored Toungoo's administrative reforms, and achieved unprecedented levels of internal control and external expansion. For the first time in history, the Burmese language and culture came to predominate the entire Irrawaddy valley. The evolution and growth of Burmese literature and theater continued, aided by an extremely high adult male literacy rate for the era (half of all males and 5% of females). Nonetheless, the extent and pace of reforms were uneven and ultimately proved insufficient to stem the advance of British colonialism.

                British Burma

                Main articles: British rule in Burma and Burma Campaign



                The landing of British forces in Mandalay after the last of the Anglo-Burmese Wars, which resulted in the abdication of the last Burmese monarch, King Thibaw Min.



                British troops firing a mortar on the Mawchi road, July 1944.
                The country was colonized by Britain following three Anglo-Burmese Wars (1824–1885). British rule brought social, economic, cultural and administrative changes.

                With the fall of Mandalay, all of Burma came under British rule, being annexed on 1 January 1886. Throughout the colonial era, many Indians arrived as soldiers, civil servants, construction workers and traders and, along with the Anglo-Burmese community, dominated commercial and civil life in Burma. Rangoon became the capital of British Burma and an important port between Calcutta and Singapore.

                Burmese resentment was strong and was vented in violent riots that paralysed Yangon (Rangoon) on occasion all the way until the 1930s. Some of the discontent was caused by a disrespect for Burmese culture and traditions such as the British refusal to remove shoes when they entered pagodas. Buddhist monks became the vanguards of the independence movement. U Wisara, an activist monk, died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike to protest a rule that forbade him from wearing his Buddhist robes while imprisoned.

                On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered colony of Great Britain and Ba Maw the first Prime Minister and Premier of Burma. Ba Maw was an outspoken advocate for Burmese self-rule and he opposed the participation of Great Britain, and by extension Burma, in World War II. He resigned from the Legislative Assembly and was arrested for sedition. In 1940, before Japan formally entered the Second World War, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.

                A major battleground, Burma was devastated during World War II. By March 1942, within months after they entered the war, Japanese troops had advanced on Rangoon and the British administration had collapsed. A Burmese Executive Administration headed by Ba Maw was established by the Japanese in August 1942. Wingate's British Chindits were formed into long-range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines. A similar American unit, Merrill's Marauders, followed the Chindits into the Burmese jungle in 1943. Beginning in late 1944, allied troops launched a series of offensives that led to the end of Japanese rule in July 1945. However, the battles were intense with much of Burma laid waste by the fighting. Overall, the Japanese lost some 150,000 men in Burma. Only 1,700 prisoners were taken.

                Although many Burmese fought initially for the Japanese as part of the Burma Independence Army, many Burmese, mostly from the ethnic minorities, served in the British Burma Army. The Burma National Army and the Arakan National Army fought with the Japanese from 1942 to 1944 but switched allegiance to the Allied side in 1945. Under Japanese occupation, 170,000 to 250,000 civilians died.

                Following World War II, Aung San negotiated the Panglong Agreement with ethnic leaders that guaranteed the independence of Burma as a unified state. Aung Zan Wai, Pe Khin, Bo Hmu Aung, Sir Maung Gyi, Dr. Sein Mya Maung, Myoma U Than Kywe were among the negotiators of the historical Panglong Conference negotiated with Bamar leader General Aung San and other ethnic leaders in 1947. In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals assassinated Aung San and several cabinet members.

                Independence

                Main article: Post-independence Burma, 1948–62



                British governor Hubert Elvin Rance and Sao Shwe Thaik at the flag raising ceremony on 4 January 1948 (Independence Day of Burma).
                On 4 January 1948, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies and overseas territories, Burma did not become a member of the Commonwealth. A bicameral parliament was formed, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Nationalities, and multi-party elections were held in 1951–1952, 1956 and 1960.

                The geographical area Burma encompasses today can be traced to the Panglong Agreement, which combined Burma Proper, which consisted of Lower Burma and Upper Burma, and the Frontier Areas, which had been administered separately by the British.

                In 1961, U Thant, then the Union of Burma's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former Secretary to the Prime Minister, was elected Secretary-General of the United Nations, a position he held for ten years. Among the Burmese to work at the UN when he was Secretary-General was a young Aung San Suu Kyi, who went on to become winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

                Military rule

                On 2 March 1962, the military led by General Ne Win took control of Burma through a coup d'état and the government has been under direct or indirect control by the military since then. Between 1962-74, Burma was ruled by a revolutionary council headed by the general, and almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control under the Burmese Way to Socialism, which combined Soviet-style nationalisation and central planning. A new constitution of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma was adopted in 1974. Until 1988, the country was ruled as a one-party system, with the General and other military officers resigning and ruling through the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). During this period, Burma became one of the world's most impoverished countries.



                Protesters gathering in central Rangoon, 1988
                There were sporadic protests against military rule during the Ne Win years and these were almost always violently suppressed. On 7 July 1962, the government broke up demonstrations at Rangoon University, killing 15 students. In 1974, the military violently suppressed anti-government protests at the funeral of U Thant. Student protests in 1975, 1976 and 1977 were quickly suppressed by overwhelming force.

                In 1988, unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression by the government led to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the country known as the 8888 Uprising. Security forces killed thousands of demonstrators, and General Saw Maung staged a coup d'état and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In 1989, SLORC declared martial law after widespread protests. The military government finalised plans for People's Assembly elections on 31 May 1989. SLORC changed the country's official English name from the "Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" to the "Union of Myanmar" in 1989.

                In May 1990, the government held free elections for the first time in almost 30 years and the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won 392 out of a total 489 seats (i.e., 80% of the seats). However, the military junta refused to cede power and continued to rule the nation as SLORC until 1997, and then as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) until its dissolution in March 2011.



                Protesters in Yangon during the 2007 Saffron Revolution with a banner that reads non-violence: national movement in Burmese. In the background is Shwedagon Pagoda.
                On 23 June 1997, Burma was admitted into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On 27 March 2006, the military junta, which had moved the national capital from Yangon to a site near Pyinmana in November 2005, officially named the new capital Naypyidaw, meaning "city of the kings".



                Cyclone Nargis in southern Burma, 2–3 May 2008
                In August 2007, an increase in the price of diesel and petrol led to a series of anti-government protests that were dealt with harshly by the government. The protests then became a campaign of civil resistance (also called the Saffron Revolution.) led by Buddhist monks, hundreds of whom defied the house arrest of democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi to pay their respects at the gate of her house. The government finally cracked down on them on 26 September 2007. The crackdown was harsh, with reports of barricades at the Shwedagon Pagoda and monks killed. However, there were also rumours of disagreement within the Burmese armed forces, but none was confirmed. The military crackdown against unarmed Saffron Revolution protesters was widely condemned as part of the International reaction to the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests and led to an increase in economic sanctions against the Burmese Government.

                In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis caused extensive damage in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy Division. It was the worst natural disaster in Burmese history with reports of an estimated 200,000 people dead or missing, and damage totaled to 10 billion US Dollars, and as many as 1 million left homeless. In the critical days following this disaster, Burma's isolationist government was accused of hindering United Nations recovery efforts. Humanitarian aid was requested but concerns about foreign military or intelligence presence in the country delayed the entry of United States military planes delivering medicine, food, and other supplies.

                In early August 2009, a conflict known as the Kokang incident broke out in Shan State in northern Burma. For several weeks, junta troops fought against ethnic minorities including the Han Chinese, Wa, and Kachin. During 8–12 August, the first days of the conflict, as many as 10,000 Burmese civilians fled to Yunnan province in neighbouring China.

                Democratic reforms

                Main article: 2011–12 Burmese political reforms
                The goal of the Burmese constitutional referendum of 2008, held on 10 May 2008, is the creation of a "discipline-flourishing democracy". As part of the referendum process, the name of the country was changed from the "Union of Myanmar" to the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar", and general elections were held under the new constitution in 2010. Observer accounts of the 2010 election describe the event as mostly peaceful; however, allegations of polling station irregularities were raised, and the United Nations (UN) and a number of Western countries condemned the elections as fraudulent.

                The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party declared victory in the 2010 elections, stating that it had been favoured by 80 percent of the votes; however, the claim was disputed by numerous pro-democracy opposition groups who asserted that the military regime had engaged in rampant fraud. One report documented 77 percent as the official turnout rate of the election. The military junta was dissolved on 30 March 2011.

                Opinions differ whether the transition to liberal democracy is underway. According to some reports, the military's presence continues as the label 'disciplined democracy' suggests. This label asserts that the Burmese military is allowing certain civil liberties while clandestinely institutionalizing itself further into Burmese politics. Such an assertion assumes that reforms only occurred when the military was able to safeguard its own interests through the transition—here, "transition" does not refer to a transition to a liberal democracy, but transition to a quasi-military rule.

                Since the 2010 election, the government has embarked on a series of reforms to direct the country towards liberal democracy, a mixed economy, and reconciliation, although doubts persist about the motives that underpin such reforms. The series of reforms includes the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, the granting of general amnesties for more than 200 political prisoners, new labour laws that permit labour unions and strikes, a relaxation of press censorship, and the regulation of currency practices.

                The impact of the post-election reforms has been observed in numerous areas, including ASEAN's approval of Burma's bid for the position of ASEAN chair in 2014; the visit by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2011 for the encouragement of further progress—it was the first visit by a Secretary of State in more than fifty years (Clinton met with Burmese president Thein Sein, as well as opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi); and the participation of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party in the 2012 by-elections, facilitated by the government's abolition of the laws that previously barred the NLD. As of July 2013, about 100 political prisoners remain imprisoned, while conflict between the Burmese Army and local insurgent groups continues.

                The by-elections occurred on 1 April 2012 and the NLD won 43 of the 45 available seats; previously an illegal organization, the NLD had never won a Burmese election until this time. The 2012 by-elections were also the first time that international representatives were allowed to monitor the voting process in Burma. Following announcement of the by-elections, the Freedom House organization raised concerns about "reports of fraud and harassment in the lead up to elections, including the March 23 deportation of Somsri Hananuntasuk, executive director of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), a regional network of civil society organizations promoting democratization."

                Civil wars

                Main articles: Internal conflict in Burma and Kachin Conflict
                Civil wars have been a constant feature of Burma's socio-political landscape since the attainment of independence in 1948. These wars are predominantly struggles for ethnic and sub-national autonomy, with the areas surrounding the ethnically Burman central districts of the country serving as the primary geographical setting of conflict. Foreign journalists and visitors require a special travel permit to visit the areas in which Burma's civil wars continue.

                In October 2012 the number of ongoing conflicts in Burma included the Kachin conflict, between the Kachin Independence Army and the government; a civil war between the Rohingya Muslims, and the government and non-government groups in Arakan State; and a conflict between the Shan, Lahu and Karen minority groups, and the government in the eastern half of the country.

                Government and politics

                Main article: Politics of Burma



                Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw)
                The constitution of Burma, its third since independence, was drafted by its military rulers and published in September 2008. The country is governed as a presidential republic with a bicameral legislature, with a portion of legislators appointed by the military and others elected in general elections. The current head of state, inaugurated as President on 30 March 2011, is Thein Sein.

                The legislature, called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, is bicameral and made up of two houses: The 224-seat upper house Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities) and the 440-seat lower house Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives). The upper house consists of 224 members, of whom 168 are directly elected and 56 are appointed by the Burmese Armed Forces while the lower house consists of 440 members, of whom 330 are directly elected and 110 are appointed by the armed forces. The major political parties are the National League for Democracy, National Democratic Force and the two backed by the military: the National Unity Party, and the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

                Burma's army-drafted constitution was approved in a referendum in May 2008. The results, 92.4% of the 22 million voters with an official turnout of 99%, are considered suspect by many international observers and by the National league of democracy with reports of widespread fraud, ballot stuffing, and voter intimidation.

                The elections of 2010 resulted in a victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and various foreign observers questioned the fairness of the elections. One criticism of the election was that only government sanctioned political parties were allowed to contest in it and the popular National League for Democracy was declared illegal. However, immediately following the elections, the government ended the house arrest of the democracy advocate and leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi. and her ability to move freely around the country is considered an important test of the military's movement toward more openness. After unexpected reforms in 2011, NLD senior leaders have decided to register as a political party and to field candidates in future by-elections.

                Burma rates as a highly corrupt nation on the Corruption Perceptions Index with a rank of 180th out of 183 countries worldwide and a rating of 1.5 out of 10 (10 being least corrupt and 0 being highly corrupt) as of 2011.

                Foreign relations

                Main article: Foreign relations of Burma
                Though the country's foreign relations, particularly with Western nations, have been strained, relations have thawed since the reforms following the 2010 elections. After years of diplomatic isolation and economic and military sanctions, the United States relaxed curbs on foreign aid to Burma in November 2011 and announced the resumption of diplomatic relations on 13 January 2012 The European Union has placed sanctions on Burma, including an arms embargo, cessation of trade preferences, and suspension of all aid with the exception of humanitarian aid. U.S. and European government sanctions against the former military government, coupled with boycotts and other direct pressure on corporations by supporters of the democracy movement, have resulted in the withdrawal from the country of most U.S. and many European companies. On 13 April 2012 British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the economic sanctions on Burma to be suspended in the wake of the pro-democracy party gaining 43 seats out of a possible 45 in the 2012 by-elections with the party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi becoming a member of the Burmese parliament.

                Despite Western isolation, Asian corporations have generally remained willing to continue investing in the country and to initiate new investments, particularly in natural resource extraction. The country has close relations with neighbouring India and China with several Indian and Chinese companies operating in the country. Under India's Look East policy, fields of cooperation between India and Burma include remote sensing, oil and gas exploration, information technology, hydro power and construction of ports and buildings. In 2008, India suspended military aid to Burma over the issue of human rights abuses by the ruling junta, although it has preserved extensive commercial ties, which provide the regime with much-needed revenue. The thaw in relations began on 28 November 2011, when Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and his wife Ludmila arrived in the capital, Naypyidaw, the same day as the country received a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also met with pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. International relations progress indicators continued in September 2012 when Aung San Suu Kyi visited to the US followed by Burma's reformist president visit to the United Nations.

                In May 2013, Thein Sein became the first Myanmar president to visit the U.S. White House in 47 years and President Obama praised the former general for political and economic reforms, and the cessation of tensions between Myanmar and the U.S. Political activists objected to the visit due to concerns over human rights abuses in Myanmar but Obama assured Thein Sein that Myanmar will receive the support from the U.S. Prior to President Thein Sein, the last Myanmar leader to visit the White House was Ne Win in September 1966. The two leaders discussed to release more political prisoners, the institutionalization of political reform and rule of law, and ending ethnic conflict in Myanmar—the two governments agreed to sign a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement on May 21, 2013.

                In June 2013, Myanmar held its first ever summit, the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013. A regional spinoff of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the summit was held on June 5–7 and attended by 1,200 participants, including 10 heads of state, 12 ministers and 40 senior directors from around the world.

                Visits by Western leaders



                Thein Sein meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Yangon, 19 November 2012
                In mid October, 2012. former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair "led a delegation" to shake hands with President Thein Sein, and met with lower house speaker Shwe Mann. A British embassy spokesperson said he was there on behalf of The Office of Tony Blair, an umbrella group of foundations—inter-faith, sports, etc.—and governance initiatives that he started up after leaving office. The spokesperson said only that he had "productive discussions about the reform process".

                On 3 November 2012 European Commission President José Manuel Barroso met with Myanmar's President Thein Sein in Myanmar.

                On 6 November 2012 former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard met with Myanmar's President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the 9th Asia–Europe Meeting becoming the first Australian head of government to meet Burma's leader in nearly 30 years.

                On 12 November 2012 Sweden's Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, met President U Thein Sein at the presidential palace in the new capital, Naypyidaw, while being accompanied on his visit by the Swedish Trade Minister Ewa Björling and two business delegations.

                On 19 November 2012, US President Barack Obama visited Burma following his 2012 reelection and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, returning almost a year after her first visit. Though he did not visit the capital, President Obama delivered a speech at Rangoon University, out of respect for the university where opposition to colonial rule first took hold. Obama's speech was broadcast live via Burmese state television channels but its simultaneous spoken translations was stopped when Obama began speaking about the Kachin Conflict. Obama also stated that recent violence in Rakhine state during the 2012 Rakhine State riots had to be addressed, he called for an end to communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists and then left to visit Thailand.

                Military relations
                Main article: Tatmadaw



                Myanmar Air Force Mikoyan MiG-29 multirole fighter
                Burma has received extensive military aid from India and China in the past According to some estimates, Burma has received more than US$200 million in military aid from India. Burma has been a member of ASEAN since 1997. Though it gave up its turn to hold the ASEAN chair and host the ASEAN Summit in 2006, it is scheduled to chair the forum and host the summit in 2014. In November 2008, Burma's political situation with neighbouring Bangladesh became tense as they began searching for natural gas in a disputed block of the Bay of Bengal. The fate of Rohingya refugees also remains an issue between Bangladesh and Burma.

                The country's armed forces are known as the Tatmadaw, which numbers 488,000. The Tatmadaw comprises the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. The country ranked twelfth in the world for its number of active troops in service. The military is very influential in the country, with all top cabinet and ministry posts usually held by military officials. Official figures for military spending are not available. Estimates vary widely because of uncertain exchange rates, but Burma's military forces' expenses are high. The country imports most of its weapons from Russia, Ukraine, China and India.

                The country is building a research nuclear reactor near Pyin Oo Lwin with help from Russia. It is one of the signatories of the nuclear non-proliferation pact since 1992 and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1957. The military junta had informed the IAEA in September 2000 of its intention to construct the reactor. The research reactor outbuilding frame was built by ELE steel industries limited of Yangon/Rangoon and water from Anisakhan/BE water fall will be used for the reactor cavity cooling system.

                In 2010 as part of the Wikileaks leaked cables, Burma was suspected of using North Korean construction teams to build a fortified Surface-to-Air Missile facility.

                Until 2005, the United Nations General Assembly annually adopted a detailed resolution about the situation in Burma by consensus. But in 2006 a divided United Nations General Assembly voted through a resolution that strongly called upon the government of Burma to end its systematic violations of human rights. In January 2007, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council calling on the government of Burma to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. South Africa also voted against the resolution.

                Human rights

                Main article: Human rights in Burma
                Further information: Internal conflict in Burma and Persecution of Muslims in Burma
                Ambox current red.svg
                This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (January 2013)
                There is consensus that the military regime in Burma is one of the world's most repressive and abusive regimes. On 9 November 2012, Samantha Power, Barack Obama's Special Assistant to the President on Human Rights, wrote on the White House blog in advance of the president's visit that "Serious human rights abuses against civilians in several regions continue, including against women and children." In addition, members of the United Nations and major international human rights organisations have issued repeated and consistent reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Burma. The United Nations General Assembly has repeatedly called on the Burmese Military Junta to respect human rights and in November 2009 the General Assembly adopted a resolution "strongly condemning the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" and calling on the Burmese Military Regime "to take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

                International human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have repeatedly documented and condemned widespread human rights violations in Burma. The Freedom in the World 2011 report by Freedom House notes, "The military junta has ... suppressed nearly all basic rights; and committed human rights abuses with impunity." In July 2013, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners indicated that there were approximately 100 political prisoners being held in Burmese prisons.



                Mae La camp, Tak, Thailand, one of the largest of nine UNHCR camps in Thailand where over 700,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons have fled.
                Evidence gathered by a British researcher was published in 2005 regarding the extermination or 'Burmisation' of certain ethnic minorities, such as the Karen, Karenni and Shan.

                Child soldiers

                Child soldiers have and continue to play a major part in the Burmese Army as well as Burmese rebel movements. The Independent reported in June, 2012 that "Children are being sold as conscripts into the Burmese military for as little as $40 and a bag of rice or a can of petrol." The UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who stepped down from her position a week later, met representatives of the Government of Myanmar on 5 July 2012 and stated that she hoped the government's signing of an action plan would "signal a transformation." In September 2012, the Myanmar Armed Forces released 42 child soldiers and the International Labour Organization met with representatives of the government as well as the Kachin Independence Army to secure the release of more child soldiers. According to Samantha Power, a U.S. delegation raised the issue of child soldiers with the government in October 2012. However, she did not comment on the government's progress towards reform in this area.

                A Bangkok Post article on 23 December 2012 reported that the Myanmar Armed Forces continued to use child soldiers including during the army's large offensive against the KIA in December 2012. The newspaper reported that "Many of them were pulled off Yangon streets and elsewhere and given a minimum of training before being sent to the front line."[unreliable source?]

                Child/forced/slave labour, systematic sexual violence and human trafficking

                Forced labour, human trafficking, and child labour are common. The military is also notorious for rampant use of sexual violence, a practice continuing as of 2012. In 2007 the international movement to defend women's human rights issues in Burma was said to be gaining speed.

                Genocide allegations and crimes against Rohingya people

                The Rohingya people have consistently faced human rights abuses by the Burmese regime that has refused to acknowledge them as Burmese citizens (despite some of them having lived in Burma for numerous generations)—the Rohingya have been denied Burmese citizenship since the enactment of a 1982 citizenship law. The Burmese regime has attempted to forcibly expel Rohingya and bring in non-Rohingyas to replace them—this policy has resulted in the expulsion of approximately half of the Rohingya population from Burma, while the Rohingya people have been described as "among the world's least wanted" and "one of the world's most persecuted minorities."

                Rohingya are also not allowed to travel without official permission, are banned from owning land and are required to sign a commitment to have no more than two children. As of July 2012, the Myanmar Government does not include the Rohingya minority group—classified as stateless Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh since 1982—on the government's list of more than 130 ethnic races and, therefore, the government states that they have no claim to Myanmar citizenship.

                In 2007 the German professor Bassam Tibi suggested that the Rohingya conflict may be driven by an Islamist political agenda to impose religious laws, while non-religious causes have also been raised, such as a lingering resentment over the violence that occurred during the Japanese occupation of Burma in World War II—during this time period the British allied themselves with the Rohingya and fought against the puppet government of Burma (composed mostly of Bamar Japanese) that helped to establish the Tatmadaw military organization that remains in power as of March 2013.

                A UN envoy reported in March 2013 that unrest had re-emerged between Burma's Buddhist and Muslim communities, with violence spreading to towns that are located closer to Yangon. The BBC News media outlet obtained video footage of a man with severe burns who received no assistance from passers-by or police officers even though he was lying on the ground in a public area. The footage was filmed by members of the Burmese police force in the town of Meiktila and was used as evidence that Buddhists continued to kill Muslims after the European Union sanctions were lifted on 23 April 2013.

                2012 Rakhine State riots
                Main article: 2012 Rakhine State riots
                A widely publicised Burmese conflict was the 2012 Rakhine State riots, a series of conflicts that primarily involved the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist people and the Rohingya Muslim people in the northern Rakhine State—an estimated 90,000 people were displaced as a result of the riots. The Burmese government previously identified the Rohingya as a group of illegal migrants; however, the ethnic group has lived in Burma for numerous centuries.

                The 2012 Rakhine State riots are a series of ongoing conflicts between Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. The riots came after weeks of sectarian disputes and have been condemned by most people on both sides of the conflict.

                The immediate cause of the riots is unclear, with many commentators citing the killing of ten Burmese Muslims by ethnic Rakhine after the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman as the main cause. Whole villages have been "decimated". Over 300 houses and a number of public buildings have been razed. According to Tun Khin, the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), as of 28 June 2012, 650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced. According to the Myanmar authorities, the violence, between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, left 78 people dead, 87 injured, and thousands of homes destroyed. It displaced more than 52,000 people.

                Thousands of homes were destroyed, 78 people died, 87 people were injured, and an estimated 90,000 people were displaced after the 2012 Rakhine State riots between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Burma's western Rakhine State.

                The government has responded by imposing curfews and by deploying troops in the regions. On 10 June 2012, a state of emergency was declared in Rakhine, allowing the military to participate in administration of the region. The Burmese army and police have been accused of targeting Rohingya Muslims through mass arrests and arbitrary violence. A number of monks' organizations that played a vital role in Burma's struggle for democracy have taken measures to block any humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya community.

                Freedom of speech
                Main article: Censorship in Burma
                Restrictions on media censorship were significantly eased in August 2012 following demonstrations by hundreds of protesters who wore shirts demanding that the government "Stop Killing the Press." The most significant change has come in the form that media organizations will no longer have to submit their content to a censorship board before publication. However, as explained by one editorial in the exiled press The Irrawaddy, this new "freedom" has caused some Burmese journalists to simply see the new law as an attempt to create an environment of self-censorship as journalists "are required to follow 16 guidelines towards protecting the three national causes — non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of natio
                Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar )
                Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
                Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

                Latest Myanmar News