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Burma has an extremely diverse population of approximately 55 million people. Roughly two-thirds of the population is ethnically Burman, who reside predominantly in the central plains area of the country. Their dominant language is Burmese.

Burma is home to a great number of ethnic nationality groups such as the Shan (10% of the population), Karen (7%), Rakhine (4%), Mon (2%), Kachin (2%), Chin (1%) and Karenni peoples (roughly 1%), which comprise the other one-third of the Burmese population. These groups have their own distinct languages and cultures, separate from that of the ethnically Burmans. Burma is also home to a population of Chinese and Indian citizens. SEE A MAP OF BURMA AND ITS ETHNIC GROUPS

The predominant religion in Burma is Buddhism, with 89% of the population identifying as Buddhist. 4% of the population identifies as Christian, 4% as Muslims and 3% as other.

  • We need to put the human back in human rights and listen to the diverse experiences of the people of Burma

A group of students from Shan State, Burma share their experiences of life in their areas. They are the students from the 11th Social Justice Education Program of the School for Shan State Nationalities Youth. The school must operate secretly because it teaches Shan history and social justice issue. The students use their drawings to tell their stories. 


RESOURCES

 

Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Survivors of Burma's Military Regime
Last year Voice of Witness published a collection of 22 diverse oral histories from Burma."Nowhere to Be Home" lets men and women from Burma describe in their own words how their lives have been deeply altered by the country’s current military regime: refugees who have fled military-sponsored violence and ethnic and religious persecution; political dissidents jailed and tortured for their actions and youth and community leaders working for solutions at great personal risk.

Exiled: Portraits of Burma
In 2012 Human Rights Watch teamed up with the famous photographer Platon to do a series of portraits as well as video interviews with a diverse spread of people from Burma. This multimedia presentation gives a powerful insight into Burma's defenders.

Links
Explore the different organizations of Burma's ethnic groups - women's organizations, media groups, youth groups, etc. There is an extensive civil society, though much of it has to be remain secretive for security purposes.