Press Esc to close
Thursday 29 January 2015
News updated at 11:35 PM IST
Weather
Max: 28°C
Min : 17°C
In Bengaluru
Sunny day

Myanmar or Burma? Obama calls it both on visit

Yangon, Nov 19, 2012 (AP)

Officially at least, America still calls this Southeast Asian nation Burma, the favored appellation of dissidents and pro-democracy activists who opposed the former military junta's move to summarily change its name 23 years ago.

During an historic visit today, President Barack Obama called Burma what the government and many other people have been calling it for years: Myanmar.

Whether slip of the tongue or intentional remark, that single word was noted and warmly welcomed by top government officials here, who immediately imbued it with significance.

Myanmar presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing called the wording "very positive" and said it was an "acknowledgement of Myanmar's government," which has taken major steps toward easing repression and transitioning to democratic rule since the military stepped aside last year.

US officials could not immediately be reached for comment on whether Washington's policy would change. But that seemed unlikely to happen any time soon.

The issue is so sensitive that Obama's aides had said earlier today he would likely avoid mentioning either politically charged name. But he used both during his six-hour trip "Myanmar" during morning talks with President Thein Sein, "Burma" afterward while visiting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi herself was criticised by the government for calling the nation Burma during a trip to Europe over the summer. The government said she should use the proper name, "Republic of the Union of Myanmar," as stated in the constitution. But Suu Kyi has said "it's for each individual to make his or her own choice as to which he or she uses."

The debate is almost exclusively confined to the English language.

Myanmar, comprising a vast array of ethnic groups, did not exist as a single entity until it was colonized by the British in the 19th century. The country achieved independence in 1948 and took the English-language name used by its former rulers, Burma.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A groom leads his horse in the equine pool after working out on the track, during early morning...

A groom leads his horse in the equine pool after working out on the track, during early morning...

A handler bathes a horse after a training session ahead of the Indian Derby in Mumbai...

A handler bathes a horse after a training session ahead of the Indian Derby in Mumbai...

Ladakhi women offering prayers during the inauguration of traditional Buddhist prayer...

Ladakhi women offering prayers during the inauguration of traditional Buddhist prayer...

A Police man takes pictures as the Raisina Hill which houses India's most important ministries...

A Police man takes pictures as the Raisina Hill which houses India's most important ministries...

A man walks on a snow covered path after in Srinagar on Thursday. Temperatures drop due...

A man walks on a snow covered path after in Srinagar on Thursday. Temperatures drop due...

A scene after light snow fall at Dal Lake in Srinagar on Thursday...

A scene after light snow fall at Dal Lake in Srinagar on Thursday...

Migratory seagulls are seen above the river Ganga during Magh Mela in Allahabad...

Migratory seagulls are seen above the river Ganga during Magh Mela in Allahabad...

President Pranab Mukherjee leaving for Beating Retreat ceremony from forecourt...

President Pranab Mukherjee leaving for Beating Retreat ceremony from forecourt...

School children perform during presentation of National Bal Shree Honour 2011 & 2012...

School children perform during presentation of National Bal Shree Honour 2011 & 2012...

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor during inauguration of International Bicycle & Fitness Expo...

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor during inauguration of International Bicycle & Fitness Expo...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523