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'My kids were in your library before me. I was really interested.'

Burma's Lucky Bibliophile
When the Ministry of Information’s director general visited Ye Htet Oo’s library in 2010, it could have been disastrous. Ye Htet Oo, then a recent college graduate, was running his new library in downtown Rangoon on the sly, without approval from the former military regime, and was told he could face three months in jail for every book he lent without permission from the censorship board. Unable to get a library license from the government, which saw libraries as a way to spread subversive ideas, he fronted his operation as a bookshop but kept a collection of unapproved library books hidden in a back room. Then one day, unknown to the young bibliophile, the ministry’s director general—who has since become the deputy minister of information and President Thein Sein’s spokesman—entered the “bookshop” and walked straight into the secret room.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 5, 2013 - 14 comments

"You never know what will happen next."

As the plane descended into Rangoon's international airport, I noticed a slight change in my heartbeat. I felt calm, but also excited, knowing that I was about to return to Burma for the first time in 24 years. Former student dissident and exiled journalist Aung Zaw spends Five Days in Burma. [more inside]
posted by seemoreglass on Jun 10, 2013 - 4 comments

Time flies by when you're the driver of a train

You may remember the 7.5 hour documentary released in 2009 which allowed you to travel the journey between Bergen to Oslo from the comfort of your home. If your wanderlust was fired up watching that video, then you may enjoy some of the other trips you can take. Switzerland: [more inside]
posted by jontyjago on May 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Amid democratic reform, ethnic cleansing

The Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations, as a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country. The government does not recognize them as citizens. Burmese Buddhists have referred to them as "illegal Bengalis", "viruses", and terrorists. In 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya were forced out of their homes during a violent conflict with Buddhists of the Rakhine ethnic group. The displaced Rohingya now live in refugee camps that they're not allowed to leave. With insufficient food provided, refugees resort to scavenging for grass and plants to survive. [more inside]
posted by problemspace on Jan 1, 2013 - 37 comments

Nightmare fuel for wasps

Researchers at Oregon State University have uncovered a unprecedented find: a spider attacking a wasp, both captured in amber (larger image here). The story, published in the journal Historical Biology, details that the attack occurred some 100 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous, in what is now Myanmar. Both the spider and the wasp belong to now-extinct species. The amber fragment also contained the body of another spider in the same web, which may be the oldest evidence yet for social behaviour in spiders.
posted by ricochet biscuit on Oct 10, 2012 - 41 comments

The shady players in Myanmar's drugs trade

The shady players in Myanmar's drugs trade: Drug exports from Myanmar continue to escalate, as distinctions between the illicit trade and the 'legal' economy blur.
posted by Cloud King on Sep 26, 2012 - 3 comments

He’s documenting history, one Asian movie theater at a time

Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia. Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded, the lost, the torched, the almost lost, the repurposed, the reborn, and the unbounded. [more inside]
posted by blueberry on Jul 1, 2012 - 6 comments

Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel Lecture

21 Years Later, Aung San Suu Kyi Receives Her Nobel Peace Prize. After two decades spent mostly under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has finally delivered her acceptance speech in Oslo for the Nobel peace prize she was awarded in 1991.
posted by homunculus on Jun 16, 2012 - 11 comments

Burma: the Dictatorship of the Absurd

Happy World: Burma, the Dictatorship of the Absurd. A surprisingly funny "hypervideo" web documentary about life in Myanmar Burma. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 8, 2011 - 34 comments

Who's next?

A Burmese general has defected from the country to tell the world about the military junta's top secret nuclear weapons program. Sai Thein Win reveals that Singapore and Germany have been selling SLORC technology used to convert uranium into weapons-grade fuel. The end goal of the program is not to defend Burma from other countries but to protect the military elite from the underground democratic opposition. In response, US Senator Jim Webb cancels his trip to Burma. A full report will air on Al Jazeera starting at 6AM GMT.
posted by shii on Jun 3, 2010 - 71 comments

Aung San Suu Kyi arrested after her home was invaded by an American

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese (Myanmar) activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was arrested after her home was invaded by Vietnam War veteran and Mormon evangelist. John William Yettaw swam to her compound May 3 and was arrested two days later on his way back. Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 20 years under house arrest, and she was supposed to finally be freed May 27. She will go on trial for the illegal visitor on Monday; if convicted, she could face up to five years in prison.
posted by dejah420 on May 14, 2009 - 50 comments

gently weeps

Explosive art; "weapons" paintings by San Minn are not shown in his native Burma where Rappers, journalists and comedians have discovered a new crime – helping people devastated by cyclone Nargis. [more inside]
posted by adamvasco on Mar 19, 2009 - 5 comments

The Forgotten People

What if you were one of the Rohingya people, and you faced death in trying to escape, or were expelled from your Homeland. Would you wait for others to help, or would you try and do it yourself...
posted by hadjiboy on Feb 28, 2009 - 6 comments

Drowning

Can the Burmese people rescue themselves? A powerful piece by George Packer in the New Yorker on the recent history and current conditions in Burma.
posted by homunculus on Aug 20, 2008 - 32 comments

Burma: monks vs. junta

Monks Succeed in Cyclone Relief as Junta Falters. In Burma (Myanmar) the Buddhist monks are doing more than anyone to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis. At the same time, Burmese officials are trying to stem the influence of the monks by forcing survivors who have sought refuge in monasteries to return to their shattered homes. [Via Barbara's Buddhism Blog.]
posted by homunculus on Jun 1, 2008 - 26 comments

Anonymous American in Rangoon

A week in Burma after the storm is the second of two anonymous eyewitness reports at danwei.org of the impact and aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. It is the most gripping and tremendously sad report I have read yet on the human tragedy that is Nargis and the Myanmar Junta's non-response. [more inside]
posted by gen on May 14, 2008 - 24 comments

In the Wake of the Floods

On Flooded Burmese Coast, the Smell of Rot and Death The situation in Burma (Myanmar) is deteriorating rapidly. Six days after Cyclone Nargis ripped through Burma, leaving untold devestation in its wake and flooding vast stretches of delta, it is estimated the death toll may climb to 100,000. Now, a Second catastrophe looms in Burma as the regime blocks aid shipments. Time is of the essence. The U.N. has launched an appeal to the Burmese government, who have thus far been slow to act. The news is truly grim: 'I stopped counting bodies on journey down river of death'.
posted by ornate insect on May 9, 2008 - 119 comments

Repression in Burma

Crackdown: Repression of the 2007 Popular Protests in Burma.
posted by homunculus on Dec 9, 2007 - 32 comments

Panties for Peace

Small 'Panty' Demonstration Held in Rangoon. It seems the Panties for Peace movement (discussed previously) is gaining momentum. And now you too can throw panties at junta leader General Than Shwe at Ready Aim Vote. [Via Lanna Action for Burma.]
posted by homunculus on Nov 8, 2007 - 11 comments

Monks back on the streets of Burma

Monks march again in Burma. Approximately one hundred Buddhist monks marched in protest oif government policies in the central city of Pakokku yesterday. One monk who spoke to journalists claims more marches will be organized. Will we see a resurgence of the mass marches--and crackdowns--of August and September?
posted by schroedinger on Oct 31, 2007 - 18 comments

Child Soldiers in Burma

Sold to Be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Oct 30, 2007 - 6 comments

Burma

Risking all: the Burmese jokers who laugh in the face of danger. In Burma (Myanmar), comedians are targets in the junta's war on words. [Via BB.] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Oct 17, 2007 - 23 comments

public panopticon

Myanmar is apparently using photos sent to websites, television stations and other media to arrest protesters taking a cue from and praising(!) China's post-handling of Tienamen square in '89. Relations are mighty cozy between the two nations (according to the big one), but the words "vassal state" are starting to be bandied about.
posted by telstar on Oct 8, 2007 - 35 comments

Burma's dissent

B U R M A [Via Crikey] and "M" link quite disturbing [more inside]
posted by mattoxic on Oct 1, 2007 - 48 comments

and in other news...

...On account of the unavoidable circumstances, the members of the security forces fired some shots employing the least force to disperse the mob.... Meet the New Light of Myanmar, official mouthpiece of the catchily-named SLORC
posted by mattoxic on Sep 27, 2007 - 29 comments

Photos of Burma protests

Some amazing photos of the ongoing anti-government protests by Buddhist monks in Burma. Things are getting tense.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese on Sep 24, 2007 - 62 comments

Path to Freedom?

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 on Aug 29, 2007 - 29 comments

Slavery in Burma

From Hunter to Hunted "In his quest to free slaves around the world, Aaron Cohen thought he’d seen it all. Then he went to Myanmar."
posted by homunculus on Jul 1, 2007 - 25 comments

Following in whose footsteps?

On the heal of her husbands fairly recent op-ed in WSJ, Laura Bush writes her own op-ed (subscription possibly required) about the whole Burma situation (or Myanmar) of all topics. Why did she do it? The Huffington Post speculates.
posted by jourman2 on Jun 20, 2007 - 23 comments

Date with a Transvestite Spirit Medium

Burmese Daze: In which the author submits to the pleasures of a transgender spirit possession festival in Burma. [Via Disinformation.]
posted by homunculus on Apr 25, 2007 - 11 comments

Flickr Tour of Inle Lake

3000 feet up in the mountains of Eastern Myanmar (Burma) lies Inle Lake^, a giant freshwater lake that is populated by 70,000 people living in four separate cities on top of the lake. They dwell, fish, farm, worship and celebrate upon the surface of Lake Inle, living a unique lifestyle that seems wholly unto itself, untouched by the world outside. All pictures found using the amazing FlickrStorm tool.
posted by jonson on Aug 13, 2006 - 25 comments

Chinlone highlight reel

This highlight reel of people playing the traditional Myanmar game of Chinlone is pretty amazing. Being a particularly ignorant westerner, I really had no idea of the grace & athleticism involved in the game.
posted by jonson on Apr 30, 2006 - 22 comments

The road to Pyinmana

Burma's military overseers, possibly in fear of a US invasion or internal strife, are moving the country's capital. At 6:37 a.m. on November 6th, (a time selected by one of the country’s leading astrologists), Myanmar's government began relocating its ministries to a 100 square-km complex in Pyinmana, a remote forest-bound location about 390 km north of Rangoon. Some analysts said the move is being driven by fears of a US invasion, while many in Myanmar believe it is due to worries about a possible internal uprising. (This despite a commitment to a "discipline-flourishing democracy".) The country's neighbors were put-off because they hadn't been informed of the move. Fortunately, the government is sure the relocation won't affect the country's tourism industry.
posted by soiled cowboy on Dec 9, 2005 - 30 comments

Coup untrue?

The country formerly known as Burma officially denies reports of a coup. Rumors circulated last week that Senior General Than Shwe had been deposed by his military regime's number-two, General Maung Aye. Burma-watchers discounted the reports, with some suggesting that the junta concocted the story as a trick. The country's "ossified leaders" blamed the BBC for the rumors, while astrologers in Rangoon believe that Than Shwe's wife spread the story. The general's wife, it seems, is worried about Mars.
posted by soiled cowboy on Aug 29, 2005 - 63 comments

Suu Kyi's arrest extended

Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest has been extended. The leader of Burma's democracy movement and a Nobel laureate, Suu Kyi was arrested a year and a half ago after her motorcade was attacked. Many prisoners in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) were recently released, but this is widely seen as a political ploy. [More inside]
posted by homunculus on Nov 30, 2004 - 7 comments

Great firewall of Burma

The great firewall of Burma. "Burma's military regime has reluctantly dipped a toe in the cyber sea, but for most of the country's population owning a modem without permission means 15 years in jail." I guess I should stop complaining about my dial-up connection.
posted by homunculus on Aug 3, 2003 - 5 comments

Crackdown in Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected and rightful leader of Burma (Myanmar,) and the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was arrested by Burma's military government 9 days ago after a premeditated attack on her motorcade. The U.N. representative visiting Burma has not been allowed to see her. There has been a crackdown on the democracy movement, and Suu Kyi's arrest may signal a split within the military government. [More inside.]
posted by homunculus on Jun 9, 2003 - 31 comments

My Gun was as Tall as Me

My Gun was as Tall as Me is a new report by Human Rights Watch about children forced to become soldiers in Burma (Myanmar). They estimate as many as 70,000 soldiers are under 18, some as young as 11. (Previous posts about Burma and modern slavery.)
posted by homunculus on Oct 16, 2002 - 4 comments

Aung San Suu Kyi released.

Aung San Suu Kyi released. "My release should not be looked at as a major breakthrough for democracy. For all people in Burma to enjoy basic freedom - that would be the major breakthrough," she said. I know, but it's a start.
posted by feelinglistless on May 6, 2002 - 3 comments

Is Aung San Suu Kyi going to be released?

Is Aung San Suu Kyi going to be released? Speculation's mounting that the military government of Myanmar is going to end opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's 18-month house arrest, after a U.N. envoy's trip to the country. Think that'll help, or even happen? (Suu Kyi's a bit of a cause celebre at the moment -- Bono's had her face on a t-shirt and he wrote "Walk On" about her, so you know something's going on...)
posted by logovisual on May 1, 2002 - 6 comments

Bulletproof teenage twins surrender!

Bulletproof teenage twins surrender! Johnny and Luther Htoo, leaders of a Myanmar rebel militia called God's Army, have surrendered to Thai authorities (who apparently coaxed the boys out of the jungle with crackers). Are today's teens leading rebel armies too soon?
More inside.
posted by varmint on Jan 17, 2001 - 6 comments

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