Burma: We’ve seen this movie before (Or have we?)

  Change has come to stay in Burma, but the question is whether a transfer of power will come through peaceful elections or by violence…Either way, the general consensus in Burma in the spring of 1990 is that the movement towards democracy which began exactly two years ago is irreversible. —Bertil Lintner, “Outrage” (1990) One morning in Rangoon during the Fall of 2013, as heavy sheets of monsoon rain pelted the corrugated metal rooftops of…

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Permanent military rule might just be a fact of life for Burma

Commentary by Daniel Gawthrop posted on straight.com (Georgia Straight) on February 1, 2021       In the face of international outrage over this week’s military coup in Burma, the country’s generals no doubt see a moral advantage they didn’t have in 1990 when they refused to hand over power to the National League for Democracy after losing that year’s elections by a similar landslide: it’s hard to take Western calls for due process seriously…

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Thant Myint-U: The unbearable burden of history

The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century By Thant Myint U Norton, 288 pp In all my years of writing and journalism, the only time I recall ever being turned down for an interview at an arts event was when Thant Myint-U, pre-eminent historian on Burma and grandson of U Thant, third Secretary-General of the United Nations (1961-71), snubbed me before his appearance at the Irrawaddy…

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Xenophobic nationalism: Myanmar’s curse

    With the corpses piling up in Rakhine State and the number of Rohingya refugees fleeing into Bangladesh eclipsing the 400,000 mark, international good will toward Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be hemorrhaging by the minute. The whole world, it seems, is piling on Myanmar’s former beacon of democracy, blaming her for a crisis the UN describes as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. And with good reason. Once celebrated for her steadfast courage, dignity, and…

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An Independent Newsroom Where Self-Censorship Rules

  With the state once again targeting journalists, press freedom in post-dictatorship Myanmar remains elusive. But it’s not just the government that inhibits free expression: the country’s leading independent news daily routinely betrays the ideals of press freedom by promoting hatred against a persecuted minority. Two years ago, Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government officially lifted pre-censorship rules governing domestic non-state media. This was a good sign: after half a century of military dictatorship, a new era of…

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