Destinations Asia

Visiting Myanmar is the cool thing to do now, but is it the right thing?

Excerpt from NY Times

Aug 05, 2012 9:12 am

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In the gold rush to Myanmar, lots of uncomfortable thoughts are being pushed aside by tourists as well as investors.

— Rafat Ali

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The question of whether it is acceptable to visit [Myanmar] long ruled by a brutal military dictatorship has not gone away. Two years ago the answer was clear; today, it is less so.

Even though Mr. Thein Sein has ostensibly put the country on the path to democracy, Myanmar is hardly free from malign influences. The economy is largely controlled by individuals, like Mr. Tay Za, who amassed their fortunes through alliances with the dictatorship; hundreds of political prisoners remain locked up; and the army is still fighting rebels in northern Kachin State. In June, Buddhists in Arakan State, near the Bangladesh border, and Rohingyas, stateless Muslims who have long been discriminated against by the Burmese government, attacked each other after the rape and murder of a young Buddhist girl.

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