Author: Krzysztof Szumski
Institution: Szkoła Wyższa Psychologii Społecznej
Year of publication: 2014
Source: Show
Pages: 151-196
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/ap201408
PDF: ap/17/ap1708.pdf

2011 – A Breakthrough Year in Myanmar

Myanmar, the former British colony, began its independence as a parliamentary democracy in difficult circumstances. Gen. Aung San, the national leader, who had come to an agreement with the British government for the transfer of sovereignty, was assassinated before the proclamation of independence. From the beginning, the new government was confronted with insurrection started by two Communist parties and a number of ethnic minority insurgencies. The economic difficulties and chaotic situation in the state pushed gen. Ne Win to organise a military coup in 1962. Under military rule, the country started to realise the Myanmar Way to Socialism. In 1988, acute economic crisis provoked student unrest which was matched by ruthless military repression. The army organised a new coup. During that time Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, a national hero, returned coincidentally to Myanmar. She participated in the creation of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a new party, and finally she became its leader. The NLD won an overwhelming electoral victory at the polls in May 1990 over the party supported by the army. The military junta did not recognise the elections. Myanmar entered into a new period of military rule with countless instances of human rights abuse. The country faced ostracism from the international community, especially from western countries. Despite the fact that Myanmar joined the ASEAN in 1997, accepted the new constitution and organised new elections by the end of 2010, the United States and the European Union continued the policy of sanctions and treated Myanmar as a pariah state. At that period Myanmar was found as a political and economically reliable partner only by the authorities in Beijing.
Unexpectedly, in the middle of 2011, a new civil government with Thein Sein, the president, a former general and a member of junta, began a complicated process of democratisation of the country. In a very short time, the leading world and regional powers changed their policies and started a fierce competition to increase their position in Myanmar. The normalisation of relations with the international community is undoubtedly the most successful area of activities of the government. The progress was achieved owing to the unexpected loyal cooperation between president Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi between the opposition and the government. Unfortunately, at present, Myanmar still confronts extremely difficult problems such as relations with ethnic minorities, tensions between Buddhists and Muslims, the modification of the constitution to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to present her candidacy for presidential elections in 2015 and the reduction of the role of militaries in the country. Additionally, Myanmar remains the object of dispute and rivalry of big powers, at present China versus USA and Japan, and in the future probably China versus India.

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