Burma old nameMyanmar old name
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The Interpreter regularly reads that in recent years this site has followed carefully the Aussie government's attempts to address the demarche effects of the 1989 Burma-Myanmar reshap. Australia initially followed the example of the US, Britain and other West European countries against the new army regimes and kept Burma by its old name.
That was also the wish of the country's most important female opponent, Aung San Suu Kyi, who believed that a nation could only name itself if it had a public mandates to do so. Myanmar " was not an integrative concept, as it was merely a literature of " Burma " referring only to the vast majority of Bamar or Burmese people.
It was not possible to explain how their favorite name "Burma", a colorful creature founded on exactly the same premise as "Myanmar", was more prestigious for the 135 or more ethnic groups of the state. Following this line, Australia was compelled to take a two-pronged stance for the state. Canberra' s official correspondance with the Burmese army regime always related to "Myanmar", as demanded by international diplomacy protocols.
In all the formal declarations and news reports and on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the GOA named the land "Burma". These policies made it difficult to establish relationships both with the Rangoon (later Naypyidaw) administration and with other capital cities in the area, where Myanmar was easily adopted. It alleged that it contributed to registering concerns about violations of humanitarian law by the army administration and was a sign of supporting the country's contested democratic movements.
That awkward settlement ended in 2012, when Foreign Minister Bob Carr agreed that a confrontational stance against the army regimes made it harder to encourage sensible reform. The Australian government had come into conflict with the multinational fellowship, which advocated the use of Myanmar. Canberra was to be called the state by its official name, a policy that was followed during President Thein Sein's state mission to Australia in March 2013.
The new prime minister has ordered in one of his "Captain's Calls" that the entire "internal" communication (also on the German Football Association's website) again mention Burma. It would only be known as Myanmar in cases of "external" use, such as official embargo.
In fact, the order seems to have been given by the PM's Bureau against the Council of the Rangoon Ambassador to Australia, German Investigation Agency (DFAT), and possibly even by the Secretary of State's Adminstration. What is more, the new policies have been implemented unevenly, even by the PM himself. In fact, it unnecessarily insulted the Naypyidaw administration at a crucial moment and annoyed other ASEAN members.
It is also unlikely that Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself used the name Myanmar in certain conditions at the time, valued it. In the view of some expert commentators, the outcome of the amendment was disorientation and a lack of Australia's credibility on Burmese matters. Since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister last year, there has been talk that good manners would triumph and Canberra would once again agree that all government have the right to name their own countries, regardless of their type and name.
At this point, too, only a few nations (especially the US) and a number of groups of activists still pressed for the use of "Burma". In March this year, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Nazis took over the administration after unexpectedly free and free ballot.
That prompted some comments as to whether the country's de facto head (Aung San Suu Kyi is refused the chairmanship by the 2008 constitution) would again rename the name of the nation in Burma (despite the operational problems and the associated administration costs). Aung San Suu Kyi said to the Yangon Embassy in April that it does not really make any difference whether her land is Burma or Myanmar, because "there is nothing in the constitution that says that you must use a particular term" (in fact, the constitution clearly states that the land is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar).
Said to the gathered international officers that she favored "Burma" herself, but from times to times would use "Myanmar" to make everyone felt "comfortable". The' Burma' page on the German Football Association's website has been renamed' Myanmar'. Now all other reference to the land, in official talks, press announcements and datasheets refers to "Myanmar".
When, for example, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi at the ASEAN Summit in Laos on 25 July 2016, she specifically mentioned Myanmar and not Burma. Mr Bishop reiterated Myanmar when he announced the final instalment of Australia's relief efforts early this past month. Talks followed between her and the "State Councillor", as Aung San Suu Kyi is now known.
So that no one thinks that all this was a teacup rush, important only for those operating in the rare ambience of diplomacy protocols, one should bear in mindfulness that in June of this year Aung San Suu Kyi ordered all Myanmar civil servants to stop using the word "Rohingyas" to reference the hundred thousand dispossessed natives she preferred to call "people who believe in Islam in Rakhine State".
Ambassadors in Burma and UN agencies such as the UN have been informed of the Council of State's opinions in the hope that they will uphold them. In the meantime, the US envoy in Rangoon has said that he and his administration will keep using the word "Rohingya", as all these groups have the right to identity.
In the past, Aussie civil servants have often spoken of "Rohingyas" in many different interrelations. Aung San Suu Kyi's recent "motion" is still unclear, but it is interesting to note that the Bishop's August 1 press statement related only to assistance to "displaced communities" when the Rohingyas are an overtarget.
It appears that there is still the capacity for name to cause diplomacy in Burma/Myanmar.