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Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a sovereign state located in Southeast Asia, and is known for having the worlds longest surviving military dictatorship. Following the Anglo-Burmese Wars that lasted from 1824 to 1885, Myanmar was then annexed by the British on 1st January 1886. The British thus employed the classic divide-and-rule principle, giving the minority states permission to be ruled by their own leaders. Due to strong Burmese resentment toward the British, most Burmese went on to fight alongside the Japanese against the British during World War II. General Aung San with 29 other comrades, secretly went to Japan to request for help in removing the British from Myanmar. However, in 1945, the Japanese proved to be ruthless, and General Aung San and his comrades switched allegiance to the Allied side. Thanks to General Aung San, after World War II, Myanmar was finally granted independence as a unified state. Just as General Aung San and his fellow cabinet members drafted a new constitution for Myanmar, political rivals assassinated General Aung San and most of his cabinet members on July 1947. On 4 January 1948, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma. For the next ten years, Myanmars unstable democratic government led to periods of intense civil war, leading up to the 1962 Burmese coup d'tat. On 2nd March 1962, General Ne Win took control of Myanmar through a coup d'tat, instituting authoritarian military rule throughout the country. Almost all aspects of life was nationalized, during which Myanmar became one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Over the years, there were violent sporadic protests, and the government was always suppressed. Facing international condemnation and pressure, the Military finally decided to have multi-party elections. In 1988, economic unrest and political oppression led to widespread prodemocracy protests known as the 8888 Uprising. The Military killed thousands of people, and General Saw Muang staged a coup d'tat, forming the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

In May 1990, Myanmar held its first free elections, and the National League of Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi won about 80% of the seats. However, the Military refused to cede power. Aung San Suu Kyi was then placed under house arrest for over 15 years, though she was released for brief periods of time. In 2008, the Military government announced a new constitution as a roadmap to democracy, and held its first elections in 2010. However, observers have criticized the election as fraudulent. The constitution was also seen as a tool for the military to continue its rule. The National League for Democracy boycotted the elections since electoral law forbade ex-prisoners to be part of the political party. Internal Conflict In 1949, the Karen people of Myanmar, led by the predominantly Christian Karen National Union began fighting for an autonomous Karen state, Kawthoolei. The situation worsened when Buddhism became the official religion of Myanmar, not only angering the Karen but also the predominantly Muslim Rohingya. Many other ethnic groups have also fought for autonomy in their region. Examples of the conflict include: Kachin Conflict The Kachin people fought for regional autonomy from the central government since 1961. While a ceasefire has already been put into effect, fighting has always taken place. Kayin conflict The Karen have been fighting since 1949 for independence. However, in 1976 they have called for a federal system. Countless battles have been fought and many have died. The government employed the scorched earth policy, and have tried to depopulate Karen communities. Many refugees have since fled to Thailand. Rakhine conflict A series of ongoing conflicts regularly occurring since 1947, between the Muslim Rohingya and the Buddhist Rakhines on issues related to the political rights of the Rohingya. The most recent conflict broke out in 2012, known as the Rakhine State Riots.