Excerpt from Chapter 9 of "Book of the Disappeared: The Quest for Transnational Justice" from University of Michigan Press
Myanmar is a country composed of a majority (two-thirds) Burman (Bamar), largely Buddhist population and a minority comprising more than one hundred different ethnicities, with several major groups including Shan, Karen, Kachin, Rakhine, Chin, Mon, Rohingya, and Kayah. Many of these groups have “distinct cultures, languages, traditions, and sometimes religions” and “live mainly in the peripheral areas, near the borders with Bangladesh, China, India, and Thailand.” Among these populations more than one hundred languages are spoken. With respect to religion, some minorities are Buddhist along with the Burman majority and there are also groups of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.
Against this diverse background, Myanmar’s military has a long history of violence, systematic discrimination, and policies of exclusion and marginalization. Out of unliteral power over the past decade, Myanmar’s military staged a coup in February 2021, jailing political opponents and asserting control over the country. As of this writing, the military faces immense opposition from Myanmar’s populace, who largely support the National Unity Government (NUG).