Myanmar’s Suffering Has History, Rockford Ties
March 18, 2021
Myanmar, or Burma, is in South East Asia. Its neighbors include Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India. It has a population of about 54 million, four percent Christians. 
The country gained independence from Britain in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.
The ruling military changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. The two words mean the same thing but Myanmar is the more formal version.
The military seized control on Feb. 1 after a general election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won by a landslide. The armed forces had backed the opposition.
Military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has taken power. He has long wielded significant political influence, successfully maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw — Myanmar’s military — even as the country moved towards democracy. 
The protests over the coup have been the largest since the so-called Saffron Revolution in 2007, when thousands of monks rose up against the military regime. Protesters include teachers, lawyers, students, bank officers and government workers. The military has imposed restrictions, including curfews and limits to gatherings. Security forces have used water cannon, rubber bullets and live ammunition to try to disperse protesters. Several protesters have been killed.
More than a decade ago, Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement helped a number of Burmese refugee families settle in the Rockford Diocese.
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