A mountainous republic in southeastern Asia on the Bay of Bengal; Also called: Burma.
Formerly (until 1989) Burma Country in SE Asia, bounded NW by India and Bangladesh, NE by China, SE by Laos and Thailand, and SW by the Bay of Bengal.
Under the 1974 constitution, suspended from Sept 1988, Myanmar is a unitary republic. The highest organ of state power is the 489-member people's assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw), elected by universal suffrage every four years. The people's assembly elects the nation's executive, the 30-member state council, which has a representative from each of Myanmar's 14 states and divisions and is headed by a chair who acts as president. It is the sole legislature and elects a council of ministers, headed by a prime minister, in charge of day-to-day administration. Early in 1993 a national convention met to draft a new constitution.
The Burmese date their era from AD 638, when they had arrived from the region where China meets Tibet.
By 850 they had organized a state in the center of the plain at Pagan, and in the period 1044–1287 maintained a hegemony over most of the area. In 1287 Kublai Khan's grandson Ye-su Timur occupied the region after destroying the Pagan dynasty. After he withdrew, anarchy supervened. From about 1490 to 1750 the Toungoo dynasty maintained itself, with increasing difficulty; in 1752 Alaungpaya reunited the country and founded Rangoon (now Yangon) as his capital.
In a struggle with Britain 1824–26, Alaungpaya's descendants lost the coastal strip from Chittagong to Cape Negrais. The second Burmese War 1852 resulted in the British annexation of Lower Burma, including Rangoon. Thibaw, the last Burmese king, precipitated the third Burmese War 1885, and the British seized Upper Burma 1886. The country was united as a province of India until 1937, when it was made a crown colony with a degree of self-government.
Burma was occupied 1942–45 by Japan, under a government of anti-British nationalists. The nationalists, led by Aung San and U Nu, later founded the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL). Burma was liberated 1945 and achieved full independence outside the Commonwealth 1948.
A parliamentary democracy was established under the Socialist AFPFL led by Prime Minister U Nu. The republic was weakened by civil war between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), communist guerrillas, and ethnic group separatists. Splits within the AFPFL forced the formation of an emergency caretaker government by General Ne Win (1911– ) 1958–60, leading to a military coup 1962 and abolition of the parliamentary system. Ne Win became head of a revolutionary council and established a strong one-party state.
In 1974 a new constitution was adopted, the military leaders became civilian rulers, and Ne Win became president. He stepped down to be replaced by U San Yu (1918– ) 1981.
The post-1962 government adopted a foreign policy of neutralist isolationism while at home it pursued its unique, self-reliant, Buddhist-influenced “Burmese Way toward Socialism”, founded on state ownership in the commercial-industrial sector and strict agricultural price control. Internal opposition by armed separatist groups continued after 1962, causing the economy to deteriorate. The Chinese-funded Burmese Communist Party established control over parts of the north; the Karen National Liberation Army in the southeast; and the Kachin Independence Army in the northeast.
In 1975 the noncommunist ethnic separatist groups joined together to form the broad National Democratic Front with the aim of creating a federal union. In 1974 and 1976 worsening economic conditions led to a wave of food riots and in Sept 1987 student demonstrations broke out in Rangoon. Workers’ riots followed in the spring of 1988. Initially they were violently suppressed, at the cost of several hundred lives, but in mid-1988 San Yu and Ne Win, the leader of the ruling party, were forced to resign, as was the newly appointed president, Brig Gen Sein Lwin, after the murder of 3,000 unarmed demonstrators. With a mass prodemocracy movement sweeping the nation, the more reformist Maung Maung took over as president and free multiparty elections were promised “within three months”.
However, in Sept 1988 a military coup was staged by General Saw Maung. Martial law was imposed and authority was transferred to a 19-member state law and order restoration council. The new regime pursued a more liberal economic course. Officially it legalized the formation of political parties, but popular opposition leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi (the daughter of Aung San) and U Nu, were placed under house arrest and barred from standing in the elections of May 1990. Behind the scenes, Ne Win remained in control. In June 1989 the country's name was changed to Myanmar.
The May 1990 elections resulted in an overwhelming victory for opposition parties but the military remained in power. An opposition “parallel government” headed by Dr Sein Win was formed Dec 1990. It was supported by ethnic rebel forces, but denounced by the bulk of the main opposition force. The socialist party headed by U Nu, still under house arrest, was outlawed 1991.
Serious human rights abuses continued. The ruling junta waged military offensives against Karen ethnic insurgents and moved 75,000 troops into Arakan state, in SW Myanmar, in an attempt to stamp out a Muslim-led pro-independence movement. The latter prompted the flight of 50,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh during late 1991, and as many as 60,000 Muslims fled Myanmar after a further military crackdown on Karen rebels Jan–Feb 1992.
In Oct 1991 Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. The West imposed sanctions against Myanmar. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) pursued a more positive policy.
martial law ended.
In April 1992 Saw Maung stepped down and was succeeded by Than Shwe, the former defense minister, although the real power in the junta still rested with Ne Win and General Khin Nyunt, head of military intelligence. Also in April, U Nu was released from jail along with several other political prisoners but not Suu Kyi, said to be held in circumstances that endangered her life. In Sept 1992 the government ended martial law but the military retained a tight control over political activities. Human rights abuses continued and Western sanctions remained in force. However, the curfew in Yangon was lifted and more than 1,000 political prisoners released. In Feb a constitutional convention in Yangon discussed the adoption of a proposed new constitution which would allow for multiparty elections but enshrine the military’s “leading role”. In July dissident Suu Kyi’s house arrest was extended into its fifth year. In Oct 1993 a cease-fire agreement was reached with the most important rebel group, the Kachin Independence.
Organization. In Sept 1994 Myanmar’s military leaders Than Shwe and General Khin Nyunt held their first official meeting with Suu Kyi.
Following criticism from the United Nations 1995 for human-rights violations, some 100 political prisoners were released, including Suu Kyi.
Država u Aziji, bivši Mijan-Mar.