Don’t call it Myanmar

3 01 2008


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By milkfish, shot with HP Scanjet G3010 at 2008-02-02
Scott 68, 27mm x 40mm, 1946

The lion at the bottom of the design is described as a mythological Chinze which also appears on Burmese coinage of the period. There is a crowned portrait of King George VI in the upper right since as of the date of issue, Burma was still under British rule. The map shows an outline of the country with its transportation (rail?) network superimposed, celebrating the liberation of the nation by Allied forces in World War II together with General Aung San. The date of issue is one year after the birth of noted democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi (daughter of the general) who has been held under house arrest for the last twelve years by the military junta in Rangoon. It is one year before the assassination of Aung San by paramilitaries commanded by political rivals.

According to the United States Department of State:

Although the SPDC changed the name of the country to “Myanmar,” the democratically elected but never convened Parliament of 1990 does not recognize the name change, and the democratic opposition continues to use the name “Burma.” Due to consistent support for the democratically elected leaders, the U.S. Government likewise uses “Burma.”

Thus the title of this post, even though it has been close to twenty years now that the regime has promulgated the change.

I was used to thinking of this as a tiny country, until I was surprised to find out that Burma is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, neighboring as it does those long, skinny nations stretching down the peninsula. Like some of these countries, its coastline was affected by the 2004 tsunami although the government has turned away offers of aid and declined to offer reports of the damage caused.

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