Friday, February 24, 2012

Shan State

The Shan are an indigenous Tai people from southeast Asia that live primarily in Burma. They are estimated to be about 6 million living throughout this region.
Their capital is Taunggyi, where over 150,000 are said to live.
The majority of Shan people migrated from China, speak a local Shan dialect but are also bilingual in Burmese… of course, many speak English too when they want to make you smile.
The Shan people have been at civil war within Burma for decades. The last recent conflict occurred in 2005, when an political uprising was squashed by the powerful Burmese military backed government.
During this revolt, the Shan were often burned out of their villages and had to flee into neighboring Thailand. They are not given refugee status, and are forced to work as undocumented slave-laborers.
Of course, this just makes the Shan want to rebel more, causing the Burmese government to restrict foreign aid and increase random violence in the area.
The Shan are completely under the subject law of the Burmese military regime. Even parts of their own land are restricted for travel.
As a traveler here, one must pass through numerous armed check-points where documents and travel papers are poured through and stamped and bribes are passed over.
Although much has been written about the Shan State and the total independence for Shan people, a declaration of independence was rejected by many other ethnic minority groups living inside Burma.
The country’s leading opposition party person, the recently released ex-home-imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, has began to lead her National League for Democracy. Despite this, the Burmese army is not going away gently. As elections heat up for this fall, expect big changes and civil unrest in these outlying areas as shows of force. Good Luck, Shan State!

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