Myanmar Closed CountryBurma Closed country
Within Myanmar's shift from seclusion to open-mindedness
Myanmar, shaken by civilian wars, has been insulated from the rest of the planet for more than half a cent. However, in recent years, the US has proposed reforms and proposed peaceful agreements with indigenous groups, leading the US to remove most of these. How does a state move from a cohesive to a more open community, however, and who is to benefit?
This is Jeffrey Brown reporting from Myanmar. SWAKHEN IFILL: In 2007, the runaway view into the enclosed Myanmar, the land formerly known as Burma, as the army ruthlessly shattered the Saffron Revolution, headed by religious and student leaders calling for greater inequality. However, in recent years the state has signalled a new open-mindedness, promised to implement dynamic democracy reform and proposed agreements for a peaceful settlement with many indigenous groups in the state.
to Myanmar to take a look. It is a country that has been insulated from the rest of the planet for more than 50 years. Now that Myanmar is beginning to open up, its miracles and beauty are becoming more clear, but also its complexity and its enormous intricacies.
A place to see everything is here in Karen State in the south-east of the land, where the symbols of the past remind us of the weak state of politics. It was not so long ago that this was an area of conflict in which the so-called longest civilian conflict in the history of the planet took place when the Karen tribes fought for sovereignty from the centre.
However, there is now a ceasefire that offers the prospect of a possible truce and a possible precedent for this long-secretary state. They are the sons of rebel leaders who fought against the same administration for a long time. -JEFFREY BROWN: Does that make you feel good? It'?s much better if the humans don't fight and die. LEFFREY BROWN: The administration is now looking for a lasting contract of freedom here in Karen and throughout the state.
Burmese people who live in the heart of Burma make up the vast bulk of the country's people. However, everywhere there are estates inhabited by a large number of other ethnical groups, more than 100 of some of them. There have been many in violent conflicts with the administration. At least here in Karen, the Rebs say they're willing to end this.
ANNOUNCER, Karen National Union (by interpreter): These struggles that have taken place so far have not helped at all. Instead, Karen's tribe was suffering. YEFFREY BROWN: Mann Thein is a member of the Karen National Union, the mainstream of the rebels. An ex-combatant himself, he is smiling as he talks about his day of persecuting his enemies, the warlords.
MENN THEIN (by interpreter): YEFFREY BROWN: But now man Thein is sitting over the bargaining bench of the general he once struggled against. And the Myanmar Army? MENN THEIN (by interpreter): YEFFREY BROWN: A persistent area of conflict, a Buddhist-Muslim conflict that has been raging in the state of Rakhine has attracted widespread interest in recent years.
Furthermore, the authorities dispute that the incident has taken place. And who will benefit from the steps towards it? Whilst most of Karen's population is very impoverished, the area is full of wildlife. There are also widely reported cases of seizures by fellow cantons. The only use of tranquillity is for those with cash, not impoverished men like me.
In my view it means that those with cash only do businesses with each other, but it does not concern me. YEFFREY BROWN: But it affects a lot of them. Yangon, the country's biggest town, is showing some hectic activity and construction, as overseas investment is bringing in funds as it senses a new beginning for the land and new possibilities for itself.
U Thein Sein, a former general himself, has pledged a - quoted - "disciplined democracy". Myanmar Peace Center: Given the very inflexible and militaristic domination over the last 25 years, the scale of the reforms and what has been accomplished in the last two years is quite notable.
You, yourself, you for a number of years. Mr. Min Zaw Oo is Executive Vice President of the Myanmar peace center in Yangon, a federally mandated commission that is working to negotiate a nationwide agreement. He is also a former anti-government campaigner who has been out of the land for many years and only came back 15 month ago because he believes that his former adversaries are undergoing genuine upheaval.
The present administration is doing its best to open up this mechanism so that individuals can engage in opening up politics and progressively manage the shift towards wider involvement and reforms. -JEFFREY BROWN: That's it? -JEFFREY BROWN: Is everyone going down this path? Anyone of the strangest attractions in this land, or perhaps anywhere else, is this almost empty 20-lane motorway in Naypyidaw, the country's new capitol constructed by the army rulers in the hinterland in 2005.
Aung San Suu Kyi's arrival on the motorway will lead to the new parliamentary headquarters, where another indication of Myanmar's transformation can be seen. He has been under detention for 15 years and is now a Member of the European Union. The National League for Democracy has the opportunity to gain a major seat in next year's elections.
Aung San Suu Kyi herself is banned from the presidency because she has members of her own families, two children who have alienation. Mr ZAW MYINT MAUNG, Member of Parliament: Yes. YEFFREY BROWN: Zaw Myint Maung, who was imprisoned as a public servant for 18 years, is now a member of the NLD parliament and now faces the former Home Secretary, who has imprisoned his dissent.
What they did to us, we can pardon them. But what they did to the land is important. YEFFREY BROWN: Yeah. myint maung: myint maung: oh, i think so. -JEFFREY BROWN: That's possible again? It is possible - possible again.
What happens next? What is the process from united to open, from a dictatorship to a democratic state? YEFFREY BROWN: Is it thrilling, this - an exiting age? leffrey brown: a nation in a state of desolation, impoverished, ethnically split, with a very turbulent past and possibly a prosperous past - thrilling but upsetting.
SWATH IFILL: Tomorrow Jeff will explore what this new policy opening means to Myanmar's rich culture heritages.