Myanmar, formerly Burma

Myanmar, a country with such a strict dictatorship that no news actually comes out, made the daily news for weeks in September 2007. The population has revolted, led by the highly respected monks. At first the army does not dare to intervene, precisely because of the position the monks have. But on September 26, 2007, the army finally took action.


Myanmar is the name given by the locals; Myanma Naingngandaw. The name Burma, or Burma, is the name used in the United States and by Burmese dissidents. The name was adopted by the English from the Portuguese Bamar, which was corrupted to Burma or Burma.


Myanmar is a country located between Thailand and Bangladesh, in Southeast Asia. Neighboring countries are Bangladesh, China, India, Laos and Thailand. The total area is 678,000 km² (that is approximately 17 times the size of the Netherlands). There are approximately 50,000,000 inhabitants. Since November 7, 2005, the official capital has been Yangon, previously it was Rangoon.

History of the country

The country is quite old, but little is known about Myanmar or Burma before the Christian era. From the beginning of the common era, the migration of

Mon from China or North India first started and then the Pyu. The Burmese also came from China and first lived in Northern Burma. Very slowly they took over the place of the Pyu in the mid-9th century and the Mon were also expelled by the Burmese. In 849, the Burmese founded an empire whose capital was Pagan, which was located on the Irrawaddy River.

Then a bird’s eye view through the history of Myanmar, Burma/Burma

  • 1044-1287 the first Burmese kingdom in which many temples were resurrected, where Buddhism was introduced. This was Ari Buddhism, a form of Mahayana Buddhism.
  • 1287, the Mongols come to power under the leadership of Kublai Khan.
  • 1531-1572, the second Burmese kingdom with Bayinnaung as king. The capital during this period is Pegu.
  • 1572-1752, the Mon return.
  • 1572-1885, the next Burmese Empire, Alaungpaya declares himself king.
  • 1885-1942, Burma came under full British control. They exiled the last Burmese king, Thibaw, to India.
  • 1942-1945, Japan invades Burma and under their control thousands of slaves are put to work on the Burma Railroad.
  • 1945, the Allies expel the Japanese from Burma
  • 1948, on January 4, the Union of Burma becomes independent from the British Kingdom
  • 1962-present, a military coup is staged under General Ne Win. To this day, Burma/Myanmar is a dictatorship where the junta is in charge. The junta gave itself the name “State Council for Peace and Development”. On January 4, 1974, it was given the name “Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma”, also marking the proclamation of a one-party state.
  • 1988, a massive popular uprising that was violently suppressed
  • 1992, General Than Shwe comes to power. Under his leadership, Burma is trying to follow a semi-capitalist path, just like China.


The influence of Buddhism

In Myanmar, approximately 90% of the population follows Buddhism. In the first kingdom, under the leadership of King Anawrahta, Ari Buddhism emerged. Every young man without obligations becomes a monk for a while, these monks enjoy great respect within the Myanmar community.

Myanmar in 2007

President General Than Shwe is still in power, although he is now 74 years old. He is leader of the junta council, consisting of twelve generals who decide on all national affairs. The Prime Minister is Soe Win.

Myanmar is a very closed country, a mobile phone must be surrendered upon entering the country. There is very strict censorship, the purchase of a SIM card costs more than 4,000. The Internet is completely controlled, it is blocked and strictly monitored when used.

The Great Uprising of 2007

At the beginning of September there is a major popular uprising and riots because of the increased fuel prices.

Early September

In the beginning it was only citizens and dissidents who protested, many people were arrested and the uprising was suppressed. Then the monks take over the protests and lead them. To satisfy the monks and keep them calm, the regime demonstratively made donations to the monasteries and had (overdue) repairs carried out.


By mid-September, images of the demonstrations had been successfully smuggled out of censored Myanmar and into the outside world. These were not just photos, film footage also traveled all over the world. There are peaceful demonstrations of approximately one hundred thousand people in the capital every day. Striking are the approximately 30,000 red robes of the monks who defy the army. Nuns also participate in the demonstrations.

September 22

Nobel Prize winner and politician/opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won the 1990 parliamentary election with her party the National League for Democracy. Despite the result, she never came to power. Instead, she was placed under house arrest in 2003. The demonstrating monks passed her home on September 22. She did not speak to the monks, but prayed with them. On September 26, rumors spread that Kyi had been transferred to prison by members of the junta.

September 24

The junta’s first official response. Minister General Thura Myint Maung, minister of religious affairs, has conveyed a warning from the regime to top monks.

25th of September

Hundreds of monasteries have now spoken out in favor of a boycott of the military junta. They no longer accept donations and refuse any contact with the regime.

26th September

De Telegraaf reports on its website around 3 p.m. that four people have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured in the capital Yangon by bullets, batons and tear gas. This was reported by a hospital source, although eyewitnesses and foreign media contradict each other. Hundreds (at least 200) people also appear to have been arrested, especially prominent monks. The first victims have fallen.

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