Shinichi Asabe Article Collection

The People of Southeast Asia

Burma(Myanmer) The End of the MonsoonAugust 2014

Burma in the Third Year of Democratization

It has been reported that the military rule which had continued since 1988 finally ended. General Tan Shwe retired from the political world and at the end of March, 2011, Former Prime Minister Thein Sein, 12 years younger, assumed the presidency and the “civilian” government is said to have been inaugurated based on the 2008 constitution.

Although it was at the end of the monsoon season, there was no sign of rain stopping and it kept raining day and night. Coconuts grown on palm trees on a wayside are wet and Shwedagon Pagoda, a symbol of the country, is smoking in the rain. (in Rangoon City)

The Thein Sein administration has pursued a reconciliation process with the democratic camp and the Western nations lifted sanctions. Various political and economic reforms have been launched in rapid succession and business people and tourists from abroad including Japan are now flooding Burma which had been in isolation for a long time.

Under such situation, hotel rates and taxi fares have become much more expensive compared to neighboring Thailand which is experiencing steady growth. However, thanks to this “democratization” process, I was able to obtain a visa and visited Burma to conduct the fourth coverage tour after 19 years.

What motivated me to start reporting about this country is the 1988 pro-democracy demonstration. It was at theo beginning of January 1989, next year of the demonstration, when I first met Htun Aung Gyaw (64), Chairman of the All Burma Student’s Democratic Front (ABSDF). He was barricaded himself into a jungle near a border with Thailand to fight against the military government which shot armless protesters to death and imprisoned leaders of the democratic wing. The “democratization” allowed him to return to his homeland. During his exile, he always said, “See you in Rangoon!” every time we met. I could finally visit him in Rangoon this time. This report describes the reality of the “democratization” of Burma from the viewpoint of “a freedom fighter”

The total running time of the video is approximately 25 minutes. The original video was shot by the AVCHD format but it has been converted into a lighter mp4 file format to be uploaded to YouTube. As BGM, music pieces free from copyrights are used.

(Story & Photo by Shinichi ASABE)

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