Sunday, April 15, 2007

Different Name, Same Game.

In 1988 the normally apathethic Burmese polulace rose up in hunger and despair at the complete collapse of their economy and against an incompetent and corrupt socialist government. Unsurprisingly of course the revolt was cruelly crushed leading to the bloody deaths of 3000 people and the immediate introduction of martial law.

Nonetheless the popular demonstrations did manage to cause paranoia that the social disquiet would continue to ferment and in time have greater effect. As a result the authorities thought it wise to avoid further exclusive identification with the Bamar ethnic majority and set about changing not only the name of the nation but also rename many towns and oddly enough, rivers.

The orignal name, Burma, stems from the English corruption of "Bamar". However as you well know this has been changed to the "Union of Myanmar". Nonetheless as one cultured, English speaking trishaw driver (bicycle taxi) pointed out, the new name always existed and the country was even referred to as such by Marco Polo in his writings in the 13th century. Interestingly however I have found that regardless of race or creed many use the old name as a personal protest against the regime.

The population is made up of 65% Bamar, 10% Shan, 7 % Karen and 3 % Mon . The are also Indians and Chinese minorities.

Burma - Mynmar
Burmese - the adjective is referred to as Myanmar i.e Myanmar people.
Rangoon - Yangon
Pegu - Bago
Irawaddy River - Ayeyarwady River
Akyab - Sittwe
Ava - Inwa

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