About Burma

Burma is a country which for centuries has grasped the hearts and minds of outsiders. Known for its serene rivers, the quiet and reserved demeanor of its people, and its amazing temples, it has had quite a torrential history. Seated between India to its west, Thailand to its east, and China to its north, Burma occupies a unique geographic area in which Middle East meets Far East. Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians coexist in a country where democracy and independence strike an unusually strong resonance in the hearts of the people.

Centuries of foreign invasion have helped shape the Burmese spirit of independence. Though the British and Japanese succeeded in controlling the country for a short time, the Burmese, led by General Aung San, a young man of 30 years, the country fought for and received its freedom in 1948.

Until the middle of the 20th century, Burma was considered the “Star of Asia.” The country had a high literacy rate above 95%, it produced and exported an enormous supply of rice, and with its high focus on education, was on its way to becoming the most developed country of all Asia. Internal politicking eventually brought about an end to the democratic experiment. In 1962, a military coup led to the end of Burmese democracy, and the country has been mired by military dictatorships ever since.

On August 8, 1988, a large student-led protest for democracy was held in the capital of Rangoon, initiated by university students. Participants numbered in the hundreds of thousands. In response, the Burmese military regime dispatched hundreds of soldiers onto the streets. A large massacre ensued until finally, the regime ended the democratic uprising.

As in all cases of human hardship, those armed with a strong sense of justice and a desire for the truth are forged by fire. Amidst the tragedy of 1988 emerged a capable group of student leaders, democratic activists, and a woman named Aung San Suu Kyi (Ong Sawn Sue Chee).

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