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Path to Freedom?
August 29, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

The fight to free Burma has been making noise lately. Protests are picking up in Burma, international activists are putting pressure on the UN to step in, and Jim Carrey has joined as yet another celebrity to try to bring public attention to the effort. Burma is an amazing place and the Burmese people are some of the warmest, most hospitable, beautiful, and silliest people I have ever encountered. The people of Burma deserve a better world. Is the tide shifting? Will this be a turning point for Burma? I hope so.
posted by crawfishpopsicle (29 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aung Sun Suu Kyi delivered the commencement address when I graduated from Bard College in 2002. Somehow they had managed to get a video tape out of her house and to our campus. It was the first time I'd ever heard of her or what was going on in Burma, which I suppose is a sign of how insular I was in college since Bard was at the time an extremely active campus regarding political demonstrations and protests. Either way, it was a remarkably moving speech, and we were honored to have her presence - even videotaped - at the event.
posted by shmegegge at 10:47 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


the Burmese people are some of the warmest, most hospitable, beautiful, and silliest people I have ever encountered

Although I've got a very low sample size, I've seen something similar. My visit to Siem Riep in Cambodia in 2001 left me surprised that people with such an amazingly horrific recent history could be that friendly and hospitable. I enjoyed my time there very, very much. I really hope the people in Burma have an upswing coming in their near future.
posted by DreamerFi at 10:58 AM on August 29, 2007


There's no such place as Burma...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:19 AM on August 29, 2007


[Links nixed, related comments cleaned up.]
posted by cortex at 11:33 AM on August 29, 2007


Zen, what about Spain? Is there no such place as Spain? That's not what the locals call it.

Ditto about the Burmese people - I was there twice in the 1980s, and found them to be friendly and courageous.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:41 AM on August 29, 2007


thanks cortex!
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 11:43 AM on August 29, 2007


As long as they go back to being Burma with its' capital in Rangoon, I'll be happy.

It's those pesky Burkina Fasso people that really have me peeved.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:43 AM on August 29, 2007


Bracing as
An ocean breeze
For after shaving
It's sure
To please
Burma Shave Lotion
posted by blue_beetle at 11:47 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's no such place as Burma...

Not according to the military dictatorship in control. They would like you to call it Myanmar. And the langauge Myanmar. And the people Myanmars. They are united, you see. It's the Union of Myanmar. Everything Is New and Improved. Forget the oldspeak.
posted by zennie at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2007


There's no such place as Burma...

Or Germany, or Finland, or Greece, or as Quiet Desperation points out, Spain . You're not obliged to call a country what the current government or even local tradition calls it. There really aren't rules about this, it's more to do with tradition and the fact that European countries, at least, aren't so terribly insecure about this sort of thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:05 PM on August 29, 2007


(Oh, and let's give Japan her due as well.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:06 PM on August 29, 2007


Thanks for editing that, cortex, it would be a shame to delete this because of the self link thing. A really nice post, and interesting enough I want to visit. Thanks!
posted by Eekacat at 12:16 PM on August 29, 2007


Or Germany, or Finland, or Greece, or as Quiet Desperation points out, Spain.

You wouldn't want to confuse Miss Teen South Carolina & Friends by using such outdated terms as The Holy Roman Empire, Suommi, The Hellenic Republic or Hispania. Never mind Persia nor Siam.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:28 PM on August 29, 2007


You may know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.
posted by Poolio at 12:34 PM on August 29, 2007


On the other hand it'd be beyond crass to refer to Zimbabwe as Rhodesia. There's a virtue to using the inhabitants' name for postcolonial countries.

Not to perpetuate the derail or anything....
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on August 29, 2007


Burma/Myanmar: Burma was a cobbling together of different people in a geographic area by the British. The current government "reverted" to the name/pronunciation Myanmar because it is "inclusive" of the Myanmar people; but in fact the ethnic Myanmar are NOT all of the people in Burma.
posted by jaruwaan at 12:57 PM on August 29, 2007



This does not really have anything to do with the post, but it is interesting is that Burma is what the English named the country. When the military regime came to power they changed it back to Myanmar which is what the country was called as far back as the 12th century. The Free Burma groups do not recognize this government, so they still call it Burma. It is actually a bit ironic, but they do have a point that this military regime does not have the authority to make the decision.
posted by crawfishpopsicle at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2007


Re "There's no such place as Burma..." This was a line from an old English comedy sketch. I thought it was Monty Python, but presently my Google-foo fails me. The next line was something like, "Yes there is, dear; it's in the atlas," and then the husband says "The atlas! A lewd, lascivious book.." Then the wife says "Dear, that's not the atlas..."

Sigh.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2007


My comment re: Myanmar/Burma is from the episode of Seinfeld where Peterman moves to Burma and leaves Elaine in charge of the company.
posted by Poolio at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2007


thank you for calling it burma instead of myanmar. i'm still frowning at peking--->beijing. what other countries want us to call them, i don't give a shit. it's like me telling the chinese how they should spell "los angeles" or "new york" in chinese characters.

jsavimbi's burkina faso reference reminded me of my all-time favorite newspaper column on the subject of naming, by jon carroll of the sf chronicle, in which he opined that the people of upper volta blew it by picking burkina faso, which sounds like an understudy in a bergman film, and that they should have named it "tropicana".
posted by bruce at 1:08 PM on August 29, 2007


When the military regime came to power they changed it back to Myanmar which is what the country was called as far back as the 12th century.

Well, no, that's what their bit of the land was called before the British colonised and, as somebody upthread pointed out, cobbled together the nation under today's borders. The Shan people, the Wa, the Karen, the Karenni and the other ethnic groups referred to their kingdoms by other names, and they still do. Thus Shan State, Wa State, etc.

Outside of Burma, rejecting the term Myanmar is more a token of the rejection of the military junta. Considering both of these factors, the debate over the "proper" name really isn't comparable to nationalistic renaming efforts in other countries, like India or, less recently, China.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:36 PM on August 29, 2007


ZenMasterThis, you need to supply an email address. But if memory serves, I think you're referring to this. (Can't watch it at work, but for once the comments are useful.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:41 PM on August 29, 2007


I visited Myanmar for a month earlier this year and two generalizations I could make were 1) people loved to grumble about how idiotic the government was, and were unafraid of sharing their views with foreigners (unlike, say, in China) and 2) they HATED being referred to as Burma.
posted by alidarbac at 6:53 PM on August 29, 2007


Real silly, those generals. Good thing the Burmese people can take a joke.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:31 PM on August 29, 2007


2) they HATED being referred to as Burma.

And the Karenni I met HATED the country being referred to as Myanmar.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:47 PM on August 29, 2007


My Burmese boyfriend would never use the label "Myanmar." And he's from the ethnic majority group. He does complain about the corruption of the junta, though.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:51 PM on August 29, 2007


Thanks, George_Spiggott; that it!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2007


Burma's military junta has been freeing prisoners from jail and then recruiting them to bolster gangs that have been used attack pro-democracy activists on the streets of Rangoon, campaigners and diplomats say. via
posted by adamvasco at 11:42 PM on August 30, 2007


Burma's largest anti-government protest in nearly two decades has taken place in the former capital Rangoon, led by Buddhist monks and nuns.
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on September 23, 2007


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