Have you heard of the country of Burma? Many people haven’t. It is a little country located in Southeast Asia between India and China.
You may have heard the name Myanmar, which since 1989 has been promoted by military authorities in Burma as the name of the country. The name Myanmar has not been approved by any sitting legislature in Burma, but it has been accepted by many countries and the United Nations.
This name is not recognized by the United States because it is one that was chosen by one of the most insensitive and brutal military dictatorships in the world.
Currently, approximately 42 million people live in the small country of Burma. And for years now, these people have been locked in a great, desperate struggle for freedom. The country’s military rulers, the State Peace and Development Council, have run the country with an iron fist for the past 20 years. They assumed power from a 26-year socialist dictatorship.
Among a total of 168 countries in the world, Burma ranks 164 on freedom of expression. Among 191 countries, it ranks 190 in public health care.
In 1988 students, professionals, and others launched a nationwide uprising aimed at bringing an end to authoritarian rule. Millions of civilians courageously marched through the streets, calling for freedom and democracy.
The military responded by gunning down thousands of these peaceful demonstrators and imprisoning thousands more. The leader of the demonstrations, Min Ko Naing (pronounced Min Ko Nine), has been held behind bars ever since. He is among approximately 1,400 political prisoners.
The most recognizable face of Burma is 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Daw Aung Sawn Sue Chee). She is the daughter of one of Burma’s most cherished heroes, General Aung San, who led his country’s fight for independence from Great Britain in the 1940s and was killed for his beliefs in 1947.
Suu Kyi has followed in her father’s heroic footsteps with her calm but passionate advocacy of freedom and democracy in the country. For her advocacy, she has been in and out of prison since 1988. Presently she is held under house arrest.
The Burmese military regime continues its brutal domination over its people. Numerous governments, non-governmental organizations, United Nations bodies, and international organizations have documented Burma’s widespread problems.
These currently range from human rights violations to complete deterioration of healthcare and public education. The authorities have also worked to silence all forms of free speech or thought. Thousands have been imprisoned for merely voicing their desire for a free and democratic country.
So how can you make a difference?
We can use our liberty to help promote the freedom and liberty of the Burmese people. To become involved in Burma’s fight for freedom, visit the following links:
The US Campaign for Burma – http://uscampaignforburma.org/join-now
Help Save the Kids of Thailand and Burma – http://helpsavethekids.com/index.php/about/
The Burma Campaign UK – http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/index.php/burma/donate/donate-now
Foundation for the People of Burma – http://foundationburma.org/
The Mae Tao Clinic – http://www.givetoburma.org/