Photos of People of Myanmar, Myanmar

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People of Myanmar

Myanmar is a country with a very diverse ethnic make-up and this is one of the most fascinating aspects of the country. It has also been, and still is, the source of much internal conflict.

Abbot with cigar
 
Trishaw driver
 
From the ferry, Dalah
 
Sellers on the ferry
 
High school students
 
Jeep passengers
 
Monk in Bago
 
Overloaded jeep
 
Sorting onions
 
Playing ''chinlon''
 
Selling pomelo fruit
 
Father and daughter
 
Watching a soccer match
 
Monk filming
 
Karen traditional dress
 
Drum-band playing
 
Karen family
 
Playing checkers
 
Karen men
 
Rice farmer
 
Monk in Mawlamyine
 
Mother and son
 
Carrying a load
 
Pouring tea
 
Spinning cotton
 
Palaung woman
 
Thayan head man
 
Intha fisherman
 
At Indein market
 
Padaung woman
 
Padaung girl
 
Padaung women weaving
 
Kayan Lahwi woman
 
Making paper
 
Umbrella workshop
 
Making paper umbrella
 
Melting silver
 
Weaving at Shwe Inn Tha
 
Working a loom
 
Preparing lotus thread
 
Playing a game
 
Cheroot manufacture
 
Rolling a cheroot
 
Leg rowing
 
Abbot U Kon Da La
 
Wedding party
 
Monk in Sagaing
 
Buddhist nun
 

Just before independence, on 12 February 1947, the Panglong Agreement was reached between the Burmese government under Aung San and the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples, an agreement with ethnic leaders in which independence was guaranteed as a unified state, but with the freedom for ethnic minorities to choose their own destiny after 10 years if they were dissatisfied with the government. The Kayin or Karen however refused to sign it and have been striving for their independent homeland, Kawthoolei, ever since. Although 12 February has since been celebrated each year as "Union Day", Burma's successive leaders have ignored this contract. The military regimes insisted on a unitary state without equality for ethnic minorities and although democratic reforms have been implemented since 2011, the government is yet to address the issues resulting from the disregard of the Panglong Agreement.

Of the over 60 million inhabitants, 68% is Bamar or Burmese with officially recognised minorities of Shan, Kayin (or Karen), Rakhine (formerly called Arakanese), Mon, Kayah (or Karenni), Chin and Kachin; there are many subgroups, like the Padaung (Kayan Lahwi, the people whose women wear brass neck coils) whereas the Kayan are themselves a subgroup of Red Karen or Karenni people, a Tibeto-Burman minority. Many of these groups have been striving for autonomy or outright independence from the majority Bamar or Burmese who make up the government and as a result have faced dreadful human rights abuses as a result. The Muslim Rohingya people in the state of Rakhine (Arakan) are described as one of the most prosecuted in the world; they are ethno-linguistically related to people of India and Bangladesh and the Burmese government refuses to recognise them as citizens although their region and its people have been under Burmese rule since the 1700s.

But for the visitor the people of Myanmar are friendly, hospitable and although poverty exists and many people have to make do with little, there are some of the most generous people on earth here. It is to be hoped that real reform and democracy will bring them the freedom and happiness they so richly deserve.