Burma also known asAlso known as Burma
Burma or Myanmar: Dispute in a country with two names
Burma or Myanmar, as it has recently been called, is once again home to a brewery dispute in a land where even the name is a controversial one. Many rival sides in this fight, among them the much criticised regime, the Islamic people and the Buddhaist friars who advocate a nationist embassy.
It has already resulted in massive evictions, retaliatory strikes and issues about Myanmar and its democracy reform. An unstable administration is preparing for the 2015 election, but the result of this dispute is far from certain. Continue reading to find out more about Myanmar's past, present conflicts and outlook.
Who is Myanmar? Myanmar, or Burma as it was called before 1989, is a South East Asian state. Burma has a total of about 55 million inhabitants, mainly Buddhist, but there are also significant minorities living there. Most of its time in Myanmar was home to Burma's sovereign empires until it was captured and became a 19th to 20th century empire.
Myanmar was eventually disengaged from the Indian colonies in 1937 and achieved full autonomy in 1948, but it was not exactly an independent state. Eventually, a new quasi-civilian administration led by a man called Thein Sein was chosen in 2011 and the long-awaited reform began.
Those reform measures include the release of longstanding imprisoned politicians, the approval of peacemaking with minorities and the opening of the media and the like. Whilst the land is still struggling with force and carrying out reform, its name is still something of a swamp. Though the name was formally renamed from Burma to Myanmar in 1989 after a violent repression by the Burmese authorities, the word has been sluggish in accepting it.
For example, the United States, hoping for Myanmar's democracy, is still using the name Burma formally to prevent sanctions for violation of people' s dignity, but on a historical mission in 2012, President Obama described the country as Myanmar instead of Burma. I will use Myanmar for the time of this writing to prevent mix-up.
Myanmar was home to major conflicts long before the British were invading the country. A large part of the dispute was concentrated in a Rakhine area, populated by the Rakhinei. The Muslim Rohingya is one of these powers that collided with the Rakhine Buddhist group. It was also attacked by the Buddhist Burmese, from whom they differ in ethnic terms, mainly for cultural and historic purposes.
The Rakhine area has always been a centre of Myanmar's war. The Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists (both Burmese and Rakhine) have been tense. A number of them may date from the Second World War, when the Rohingya Muslims stayed faithful to the British, while the Buddhists backed Japan in the hope of becoming independent.
After the Second World War this was further intensified when the Rohingya tried to create a space of independence that was originally a success; however, over the course of the years they were vanquished and have since been suppressed by politics. Rohingya are a Moslem majority in West Burma. It is the victim of an offical governance which some call racial cleanup; its population is divided into secluded centres and communities without shelter.
This is a serious enough predicament that the Rohingya are regarded by the United Nations as some of the most oppressed of all. Indeed, a 1982 Rohingya Act prohibits the Rohingya from becoming a citizen of the state. This group is subject to discrimination both because of its religious beliefs and because of its traditional dark skin tone.
Rohingya comes from a part of the former Bengal area and today belongs to Bangladesh. The Rakhine form the general population in the area, while the Rohingya are the predominant in the neighbouring areas of Bangladesh. One way or the other, the Rohingya are regarded with great animosity in Myanmar.
They also exclude this differentiation from the tribal statute within the state. Other group are the Rakhine Buddhist Nazis. A little surprising are many of the Buddhist friars who participated in the war. The work is known as 969. Ashin Wirathu, who has become famous for his violent rhetoric containing unfounded allegations about Muslims, appeals to boycotts of Islamic companies and requests for legislation that prevents inter-religious marriages, is the flagship of this group.
Nevertheless, the Rakhine are the predominant in the area, but they are another minorities in the area. In contrast to the Rohingya, who are generally regarded as beginners, the Rakhine are a much older group there. Indeed, they once had their own kingdom in present-day Bangladesh and Myanmar before being attacked by the Burmese.
For the Rakhine and a large part of the remaining populace, the Rohingya are therefore an illegal group of immigrants and are regarded as such. Recent conflicts have been triggered by the May 2012 assassination and raping of a Tibetan Islamic man. As a result, a tide of violent acts was committed against Rohingya, mainly by nationalist Buddhists.
They differed from the first in two respects: first, they were much better co-ordinated; second, they were aimed at Muslims in general and not only at the Rohingya. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, the regime took two actions. Whilst parts of the story were precious, other parts that demanded Rohingya's genealogy raised doubts about its aims.
Secondly, as the emphasis of the Rohingya attack on Muslims in general increased, the regime sought to defend the Islamic population by calling policing; however, far from being useful, the policing force sometimes was ready to stand alongside the masses of Buddhists nationalistic people or was even involved in violent acts against Muslims. It also sent the military to areas and they have proved more efficient because they have fewer Rakhine Buddhists in their numbers.
The Rohingya are displaced to Bangladesh, where they live in shelters. This has also resulted in a massive explosion as Myanmar's Muslims are seeking security in other states. This has also resulted in several retaliatory bombardments and assaults on Myanmar's Buddhaist sanctuaries and Myanmar administration bureaus by Muslims who maintain they are doing business in the name of the Rohingya.
At home, it has strengthened control over a regime that seems incapable of stopping the war. She has also opened the doors to the leaders of a much-loved opponent called Aung San Suu Kyi. Below is a detailed explanation of the dispute. Apart from the Rakhine debate, the administration has a few other things to be concerned about.
Human Rights Watch, the world' s monitoring organisation, reports that the Chinese authorities have reversed many of the reform promises made from 2011, namely the grant of free access to the press. Sadly, the situation is not so good for the Myanmar population. Only struggles and the perceptions of ethnical purges exacerbate these circumstances, preventing new investment and overall outreach.
Apart from the government's failure to keep power, it is also experiencing the warmth of Aung San Suu Kyi. He has been detained several occasions for condemning the Burmese army regime that has governed Myanmar for the past 30 years. Although she denounces the injustices, she has refused to express herself in defence of the Rohingya.
There is speculation that this is her political action, as she is not only seeking the chairmanship, but also some of her biggest supporters are the same Buddhist friars who are targeting Muslims. It is also not clear how much her vote could really change things in Rakhine, especially given the government's recent rejection of her candidacy for the EU Council President.
Nevertheless, it seems that as an advocate of citizenship, she would stand up for a deliberate majority, even if she were not popular for the country's sakes. Irrespective of her governmental ties, she is often considered a powerful and respectful vocalist in Myanmar.
The Buddhist renunciation is centered on a contested friar. Virtually unfamiliar, he made a name for himself in 2001 during an early Muslim rebellion as part of the 969 group. Although he has no general backing, he has a large fan base because of his powerful Nazi embassy and his condemnation of the Rohingya Muslims, who are not liked by any part of the people.
Also Wirathu has enlarged his public by sending on YouTube. The confreres and the administration have declined to disciplin him. As a result, some have suggested that he is sending a signal that the regime implies his support. Although these three players are not the only ones involved in Myanmar, they are at the centre of the present war.
You are also three agencies that can influence the changes in the whole land positively or negatively. Myanmar's war is threatening not only the Rohingya, but all minorities. That is especially the case after the Buddhist monks' nationalistic preaching. Untested and unsolved force is likely to boil and erupt, but if the regime can carry out genuine reforms and hold a legit elections, then there is still the possibility of rewriting Myanmar's history.
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