Why do we use Burma not Myanmar? The military regime changed the name of the country to "Myanmar" on 26th May 1989. The democracy movement and the leaders of the ethnic resistance organisations, however continue to use "Burma" and have urged the international community to do the same. They argue that the regime had no mandate to change the name of the country.
A country of around 50 million people is ruled by fear. A military machine of 500,000 soldiers denies a whole nation its most basic rights. It`s military regime has since 1996 sought to attract international tourists to what is indeed one of the world's most diverse and beautiful lands. Yet large parts of Burma remain off-limits to tourists because of military operations, narcotics trafficking in border areas, and a contentious gas pipeline built across southern Burma. And many tourism-related projects have involved massive forced labour, arbitrary property seizures, compulsory relocations, and other human rights abuses.
Aung San Suu Kyi pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent more than 15 years under house arrest in Rangoon, symbolises the struggle of Burma's people to be free. Her Party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 82% of the seats in elections held in 1990. The people of Burma overwhelmingly rejected military rule yet the military continues to refuse to transfer real power to Burma's democratically elected leaders.
In the past the NLD argued that travel to Burma was an endorsement of the military regime as money from tourism went to the government. There€™s evidence that some tourism complexes were built with forced labour, and that villages were cleared to make way for luxury hotels. Aung San Su Kyi has now indicated that responsible travel can help to change Burma. Burma Campaign UK (who redspokes have been long time supporters of) has also revised its position on travel to Burma.