Saturday, December 22, 2012

TOP 10 Events in Burma 2012

Saturday, 22 December 2012 12:54 Mizzima News

As we awake on this the “Day after The End of Days” we see a bright new era stretched out in front of us. However, the festive season is also a time to reminisce and to look back on the year before. And what a year it was for Burma!

Mizzima’s sister publication, M-Zine+, has selected what its editors have decided are the 10 biggest events or issues over the past 12 months.

We’ll begin the countdown today at No. 10, recalling one issue each day until we finish on December 31 with the most momentous event of the year.

No rest for the little elves at, we will be working all the way through Xmas and New Year, bringing you the latest and most accurate news from Myanmar.

We wish you, our readers, a merry festive Christmas time, and hope you’ll stay with us—at least until the next Mayan calendar ends.

No. 10 Burmese exiles return home

Moe Thee Zun, the ex-chairman of All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), speaks at the Rangoon International Airport on Saturday, September 1, 2012. He said he was overjoyed to return to Burma and share his happiness with everyone. Photo: Hein Htet / Mizzima

The themes of exile and return have historically provided frequent set piece dramas. French royalists returned after the turmoil of the Revolution had played itself out—with some sitting out the Napoleonic era as well.

The collapse of the Soviet Union saw numerous dissidents wander back to what was no longer a single country but many.

Since the 1990s, many of the Southeast Asian boatpeople who braved choppy seas and pirates (aka coastal fishermen from neighboring countries) to escape from Indochina headed back starting in the 1990s, often to stay, even to prosper.

No single adjective or set of parameters describes an exile’s existence away from home. For some, it is a period of disorientation and intense loneliness; for others it’s a chance to start anew. In many cases it depends upon the circumstances of one’s departure, and on one’s personality and emotional baggage.

Also crucial is what’s on offer in the place of exile. It is too hard to say, for example, whether a political refugee of high standing is more able to cope with the vicissitudes of exile life than a simple farmer is.

While there has, for some time, been a trickle of Burmese exiles testing the waters with trips back home, 2012 saw the numbers of those making short trips, or even staying, increase dramatically. Some had been, like Dr Naing Aung and Moe Thee Zun, armed opponents of Myanmar’s previous military junta. Others, like Harn Yawnghwe, operated in the political sphere.

Mizzima essentially shifted its exile media operations and personnel to Yangon. Even many well out of the limelight—displaced farmers and laborers—began to return as well.

There is often tension, even resentment, between those who stayed behind and those who left and went into exile, particularly for exiles of the political class for whom a return can be as dislocating and traumatic as a departure. Usually these issues are resolved by the passage time. But one can hope, given the enormous tasks that lie ahead for Burma, any tensions are squared in a timely manner.

M-ZINE+ is a business weekly available in print in Yangon through Innwa Bookstore and through online subscription at

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