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Aung San Suu Kyi to meet Myanmar President Thein Sein

The National League for Democracy spokesman, Nyan Win, said Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein would likely discuss democratization and peace talks with the ethnic rebels in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Burma: Official date set for Suu Kyi's entry to parliament

However, 80% of parliament is still controlled by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Myanmar: No end in sight for Kachin conflict (PHOTOS)

LAIZA — There’s little sign of a democratic awakening in Laja Yang. Despite vaunted reforms elsewhere in Myanmar, this dusty village remains a ghost town, abandoned last year after clashes between Myanmar's military and Kachin rebels, who began their fight for independence in the 1960s. The village lies along a bloody ethnic fault-line in the north, a fortified encampment threaded with foxholes and trenches.

Myanmar by-elections a hard sell in Kachin conflict zone

LAIZA — In contrast to the boisterous campaigns being staged by Suu Kyi’s supporters, optimism in this rebel-held area of Kachin State — a sliver of territory nestled along the Chinese border — is in short supply.

Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar elections will not be free or fair

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday that Myanmar's upcoming elections would be neither free nor fair due to widespread irregularities.

Myanmar: Low risk, big payoff from April Fool’s Day vote

BANGKOK – If Myanmar is starring in a Cinderella tale, then this might be the ball. Great jubilation surrounds an April 1 vote in Myanmar (formerly titled Burma) that could help turn the former outcast state into the next darling of Western investment and aid.

Myanmar: What's in a name?

GlobalPost used to say Burma. Here's why we don't anymore.
Myanmar name change 2012 03 29Enlarge
Burmese feed the seagulls at a jetty along the Yangon river ahead of the parliamentary elections on March 29, 2012, in Myanmar. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Whether you say "Myanmar" or "Burma" is a highly charged issue among many people — particularly Asia editors.

It's a question that has become code for: Whose side are you on? "Myanmar," for so long, suggested junta. And "Burma" meant you were against the repressive regime.

The reason for this line of thinking can be traced back to 1989, when the military junta officially changed the name from "Burma" to "Myanmar," which happened to be a year after it killed thousands who participated in a popular uprising. The miltary regime changed the name without consulting the people, and it became a symbol of oppression. Many rejected the shift on those grounds.

But as the Southeast Asian country continues to roll out reforms — giving amnesty to at least 200 political prisoners, agreeing to allow democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party to run in this weekend's by-elections — it's also a debate that is fading fast.

The two words do, after all, mean the same thing. They refer to an oblong country in Southeast Asia that is home to around 50 million people of various ethnic groups, the largest one of which is Burman. "Myanmar" is arguably more inclusive of the entire population, roughly one-third of which is an ethnicity other than Burman.

In the Burmese language, "Myanmar" is actually just a more formal, ceremonial version of the word "Burma."

More from GlobalPost: "Burma" or "Myanmar"? Does it Matter?

Now that the regime is — outwardly at least — reforming, its official name is becoming more internationally used and accepted. The US and the UK still use "Burma," but France and Japan have used "Myanmar" for some time. The BBC and the Washington Post are holdouts, but the NY Times and WSJ have switched. Here's the Financial Times' well-reasoned justification for making the change.

When you choose to call a country something other than its official name, you're making a statement.

So, somewhat counter-intuitively, it is GlobalPost's desire to not make a statement that has led us to change our style to "Myanmar."


Myanmar: Suu Kyi fever in pre-election Yangon

YANGON — Standing outside his wooden home in central Yangon, Aung Kyaw Moe proudly shows off his latest piece of ink-work: a portrait of Gen. Aung San that wraps around his muscly upper arm. Like many Burmese, the 29-year-old rower, a member of Myanmar’s national team, idolizes his country’s national hero, who fought for independence from British colonialism. But with by-elections approaching, Aung Kyaw says his tattoo is also a sign of his support for the general’s daughter, the country’s iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma: Peace talks with Kachin rebels

The government in Burma has signed ceasefire agreements with many ethnic rebel groups, in an effort to end armed conflict.

Aung San Suu Kyi: Reforms not irreversible

Aung San Suu Kyi's party won the elections in 1990 by a landslide but the military junta dismissed the results and prolonged her house arrest for 22 years.
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