On 20 October 2020, United Nations University hosted “Does History Shape Destiny? The Case of Myanmar”, a virtual conversation with Dr Thant Myint-U, Chairman of U Thant House and the Yangon Heritage Trust.
Myanmar has existed throughout its history in a variety of political configurations, with each contributing to the nature of the country we know today. The architecturally and culturally renowned Pagan Kingdom that began over a millennium ago established the Bamar ethnic group as the region’s dominant people. The Toungoo Empire in the 16th Century, the largest ever South-East Asia witnessed, absorbed many peripheral lands and their ethnically diverse inhabitants. Colonial rule three centuries later further exacerbated ethnic differences within, albeit under the British and Anglo-Burmese dominance. The 1947 Panglong Agreement then enabled the establishment of the independent Union of Burma, but fissures quickly surfaced, igniting internal conflict along political and ethnic lines that continue into the modern-day, culminating with the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya recently.
Is history truly inescapable? Do the Myanmar elections in November, the second openly contested elections in almost three decades, present a glimmer of hope? What about the 21st Century Panglong Conferences — the national reconciliation and peace process whose fourth and most recent iteration took place in August?
Dr Thant Myint-U joined UNU Rector David M. Malone to discuss the future of Myanmar and to explore how destiny may escape history’s grievances.
Watch the recording at https://youtu.be/WT9fG3kHbao