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Elections in Burma: A Traveler’s Thoughts

As a translating and interpreting graduate and political science student who has worked with the United Nations Association in Florida promoting Human Rights, as well as with the Florida Holocaust Museum to educate about genocides, promoting tolerance and inclusion, it is only natural that, to me as a traveler, the social and political situation of a destination is a big interest.

To me, traveling also means informing yourself about the current situation, both political and social, of your destination country. By doing so, I make sure to not put myself in awkward, offensive, or even perilous situations.

In the summer of 2013, my boyfriend and I traveled to Burma, or Myanmar. Getting a visa and entering the country is difficult. Certain professions, such as journalists, are denied the visa right away. The feeling of being watched by government can’t be shaken off. Certain areas were (and probably still are) inaccessible to tourists in order to conceal human rights abuses. Traveling through Burma, we made the conscious decision to use transportation not owned by the military government, in order to avoid supporting the military regime as much as possible and making sure that our money would support locals. During our 10 day trip, seeing with my own eyes so many friendly and and hospitable adults and children scared of their own government was terrifying and incredibly sad.

I have often been asked why I would travel to a country like this. Traveling to Burma, or countries with similar issues, is often seen as dangerous and irresponsible.

Hence, the news of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party winning the first democratic elections in Burma bringing worth some happy feelings.

Under house arrest for 15 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has been adored by so many Burmese and has given them hope for a better future. For her non violent struggle for democracy and human rights she received the Noble Peace Prize. The world looks up to her.

>Now, with her victory, she has such a great opportunity to pick up the momentum and turn this stunning country into a wonderful home for all. What I wish to see most? I want her to promote human rights and inclusion for all, especially for the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority group whose Burmese citizenship was revoked in the early 1980s. This action led to grave Human Rights abuses towards the Rohingya people culminating in ethnic cleansing and genocide. It really is a tragedy!

However, with the defeat of the military government and the world watching I am positive that the situation in Burma will change for the better in the future.


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