Buddhism plays an important role in popular
culture and dominates most festivals, which also follow
the rice cultivation's annual cycle. The main festival,
usually celebrated in mid-April. It is Myanmar's New
Year and the highlight of the hot season. Also important
are the local pagoda festivals, hpaya pwe.
Myanmar has a rich storytelling tradition with many
poets, dramatists, musicians and actors. Stone
inscriptions have been found from the Pagan dynasty (see
Ancient History), but the oldest preserved literary
texts in Burmese date from the late 1300s.
In recent decades, literary production has had a
thinning life. Censorship, bureaucratic barriers to
print business and a poor reading circle have meant that
the number of new book titles has dropped to a few
hundred a year. Most of what is published is adventure
and love novels.
Latest population statistics of Burma, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
The modern writers that exist are strongly influenced
by English literature. Most famous in Europe is Pascal
Khoo Twee, who left the country after the 1988 protests
and studied in Cambridge. He has been acclaimed for his
book "From the land of green ghosts", which was
published in 2002.
The most common form of entertainment, pwe,
is a combination of singing, dancing and theater. At a
night pwe dancers appear who are considered to
be possessed by spirits (nats). Many villages
have their own protective night. Zat pwe is
another form of pwe and both are usually accompanied by
a saing orchestra, dominated by percussion.
Unique to Myanmar is the instrument pat-waing,
which consists of 21 tuned drums in a circular wooden
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Burma. Artists and albums are also included.
A popular form of entertainment is anyeint,
a type of theater that combines song and dance with
comic elements. Later years most popular practitioner of
anyeint is the satirist Zarganar (pseudonym for Thura),
also active as an actor and film director, whose
socially critical appearances led to him being sentenced
to 59 years in prison in 2008, later "softened" to 35
years. He was released in connection with an amnesty in
Among the crafts are wood carvings, lacquer works,
gold and silver products and sculptures with Buddha and
mythological figures. A national museum is located in
Rangoon and regional museums in Mandalay and other
AI: "may be a crime against humanity"
The military's assault on Rohingya during the offensive in Rakhine may
involve crimes against humanity, writes Amnesty International in a report. Among
the abuses mentioned are murders of civilians, rapes and torture.
OHCHR: "may be a crime against humanity"
The United Nations Office for Human Rights (OHCHR) says the Rohingya may be
victims of humanity's crimes in connection with the military offensive in
Rakhine. Data comes from hundreds of burnt-out Muslim villages and about 33,000
Rohingya who have fled their homes.
Protests against the offensive against Rohingy
Protests against Myanmar's harsh attacks against Rohingya in Rakhine are
spreading in nearby, Muslim-dominated countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia and
Indonesia. Aung San Suu Kyi is forced to cancel a trip to Indonesia due to large
demonstrations against her and the Myanmar government there. An attack on
Myanmar's embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta is canceled just before the
day of Suu Kyi's planned visit.
Ethnic cleansing in Rakhine according to UN source
John McKissick, a high-ranking representative of the UN refugee agency UNHCR,
tells the British BBC that the Myanmar government aims to ethnically cleanse
Myanmar from Rohingya. The government denies all allegations of abuse against
the Muslim minority and expresses "great, great disappointment" over Mc
Rohingyer flees to Bangladesh
Hundreds of Rohingy flee from Rakhine across the border to Bangladesh. They
are fleeing the military offensive in the state that has claimed at least 130
lives and forced around 30,000 to flee since it was launched after the border
police attack. From Bangladesh comes information on how Rohingy in small wooden
boats are stopped at the border flood by Bangladeshi police.
UN envoy wants investigation into violence in Rakhine
The UN Human Rights Envoy calls for an investigation into allegations that
Myanmar soldiers have killed unarmed civilians and burned down villages in
Rakhine following the attack on border postings.
Fighting in Rakhine
Nine soldiers are killed when unknown perpetrators attack a border post in
Rakhine. Authorities link the attack to Rohingy and launch an offensive in the
state to arrest the culprits. Thousands of people are forced to flee the army,
which is said to burn down villages in their search for perpetrators. Over 40
people are killed in the counterattack.
Laws from the military regime are scrapped
Parliament repeals a law that gave the authorities the right to detain
opposites and condemn them to harsh prison sentences for, for example,
"disturbing the public morale" or spreading false rumors;
Suu Kyi speaks before the UN
Suu Kyi promises to promote human rights in Rakhine when she speaks for the
first time before the UN as Myanmar's true leader. She does not mention rohingya
in her speech, but says she will support Kofi Annan's work in the state.
Soldiers are sentenced to punishment
Seven Myanmar soldiers are sentenced to five years in prison each for killing
residents of Mong Yaw village in Shan State, reports the military. It is unusual
for soldiers to be convicted of crimes, and the impunity is widespread.
Obama: "US sanctions will be lifted soon"
At a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Suu Kyi in the White House
in Washington, Obama says the US is ready to abolish the economic sanctions soon
and also renounce Myanmar the favorable terms of trade that were claimed more
than 20 years ago because of the then military junta violations of human rights.
US sanctions against some individuals and against the military persist.
Kofi Annan is being promoted
When Annan visits Rakhine, he is met by demonstrative Buddhists at the
airport who say they do not want any "Kofi-led commission". The poster states
that "no partisan foreigner should interfere in Rakhine's internal affairs".
Peace talks with ethnic armed groups
Hundreds of representatives of 15 of the country's 18 ethnic guerrilla groups
gather in Naypyidaw for a five-day meeting on how to achieve peace. Rohingya are
not represented. The talks are led by Aung San Suu Kyi and will be held once
every six months during the entire term of the NLD. A backlash in the so-called
Panglong Peace Conference comes on the second day when representatives of one of
the largest guerrilla groups, the United States Army (UWSA), leave the meeting
room in anger after being told they cannot comment during the conference. The
meeting achieves no concrete results, and Suu Kyi describes it as "a first step
on a difficult road to peace". (31 / 8-4 / 9)
Kofi Annan leads advisory group on Rakhine
The government appoints an advisory group of international experts to "find
sustainable solutions to the complicated and sensitive issues in the state of
Rakhine". The group will be led by former UN chief Kofi Annan and submit its
recommendations to the government in one year. Suu Kyi has been criticized by
human rights organizations for failing to publicly address the difficult
situation of the Rohingy. A few days later, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
says that the stateless Rohingy should be granted the right to Myanmarian
Suu Kyi receives China's support
Suu Kyi travels to China, where she receives support for the peace talks with
ethnic guerrilla groups near the Chinese border. During the visit, China presses
to resume the stopped construction of the Myitsone dam, which is important for
UN alarm about minority
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights states in a report that the
discrimination and violence to which Rohingya is subjected in Myanmar could be
likened to crimes against humanity. According to the report, there has been an
alarming increase in heat against Rohingya from Buddhist monks over the past
US Secretary of State visiting
US Secretary of State John Kerry visits Myanmar. In talks with Aung San Suu
Kyi, he calls on the new government to improve the human rights situation,
especially for Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi says the outside world must be aware
of the difficulties Myanmar faces and that the government must be given a fair
chance to deal with them.
The United States raises more sanctions
When the NLD government takes office, the United States decides to lift some
of the sanctions against Myanmar. It is being done to encourage this "milestone"
in the country's process of democracy. It is mainly economic and trade embargo
that is being lifted, while a number of individuals and companies with strong
ties to the old regime remain blacklisted.
Over 80 political prisoners are released
President Htin Kyaw releases 83 political prisoners on Myanmar's New Year's
Dozens of students are released from detention
Aung San Suu Kyi says that one of the first steps the new government will
take is to release all political prisoners. There are estimated to be around a
few hundred political prisoners in the country's prisons. A court immediately
releases dozens of students who have been detained without trial since being
arrested by police in March 2015 in connection with student demonstrations (see
Suu Kyi travels to China
Aung San Suu Kyi's first foreign trip as foreign minister goes to China,
Myanmar's main trading partner and largest investor.
The president and the government are installed
Htin Kyaw is sworn in as Myanmar's first civilian president in over half a
century. The two vice presidents are also installed, as well as the new
government. Suu Kyi becomes Foreign Minister and Minister responsible for the
Office of the President. She also assumes a special position as National
Counselor (State Counselor) and thus becomes the person who effectively governs
the country. Most of the 18 ministers are NLD members. The military appoints
three ministers: Defense, Home Affairs and the Minister responsible for border
issues. The majority of government members are 60 years or older, and apart from
Suu Kyi, there are no women.
The state of emergency in Rakhine is canceled
The government cancels the state of emergency in Rakhine, which has been in
force since the outbreak of 2012 between Buddhists and Rohingya. The state
government makes the assessment that ethnic tensions no longer threaten the
security of society.
Department of Ethnic Affairs
Myanmar's future president intends to create a new ministry responsible for
ethnic issues. The proposal is a way of emphasizing the importance for the
future government of improved relations between the Burmese, who are in the
majority, and the country's many minority people.
First civilian president in 50 years
Both parliament's chambers elect NLD politician and academic Htin Kyaw as new
president with 360 out of 652 votes. Htin Kyaw is close ally to Aung San Suu
Kyi, who is likely to be the country's real leader. Htin Kyaw is described as a
low-key and intellectual person and has administered a charity fund to Aung San
Suu Kyi. The other two presidential candidates, Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio,
will be the first and second vice president, respectively.
Presidential candidates are nominated
The Lower House nominates NLD politician Htin Kyaw as its presidential
candidate. He is known for being close to Aung San Suu Kyi. The Upper House
nominates Henry Van Thio from the NLD and the military nominates Myint Swe, who
is seen as a hard-line military.
Negotiations on the presidential post are stranded
Negotiations between the NLD and the military to change the constitution so
that a person whose children have foreign citizenship (read Aung San Suu Kyi)
should be able to become president of Myanmar beaches when the NLD thinks that
military requirements become too great. Suu Kyi announces that she will instead
govern the country through a representative on the presidential post.
The new Parliament meets
The NLD-dominated parliament takes office, but the military still has its
reserved seats. A first important task for the National Assembly is to elect a
new president and form a new government.
Presidents from ethnic minorities
The NLD nominates four persons to the four Presidential posts in Parliament
(two in each Chamber). Three of the nominees are members of ethnic minorities.
In this way, the NLD seeks to increase the influence of minorities in the
Suu Kyi participates in peace talks
For the first time, the country's future leaders are participating in
official peace talks with Myanmar's ethnic resistance groups. The talks are
aimed at speeding up implementation of last year's ceasefire agreement between
the government and guerrilla groups.