BY KYAW LIN FOR DEBATES INDÍGENAS
In recent decades, the country has become a major producer of yaba, a synthetic drug distributed in pills easily available throughout the country. Rakhine State has now been transformed into one of the major hubs for drug transit in the country and is living through a drug addiction crisis. Meanwhile drug lords pay corrupt authorities to facilitate their business and use money made from drug trafficking to buy property in all major cities of the state.
One year ago today, just hours before the newly elected parliament of Myanmar/Burma was preparing for its first session, the Myanmar military — called the Tatmadaw — staged a coup d’état, toppling the civilian government over what they claimed were irregularities in the electoral process. The people of Myanmar/Burma overwhelmingly voiced their rejection of the army’s claim that the elections were rigged, and thousands flooded the streets of the country’s cities and towns to show their opposition to the military coup.
There is no accurate information about the number of Indigenous Peoples in Myanmar, partly due to a lack of understanding of the internationally recognised concept of Indigenous Peoples. The government claims that all citizens of Myanmar are “Indigenous” (taing-yin-tha), and on that basis dismisses the applicability of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to Myanmar. Indigenous Peoples' rights activists use the Burmese language term hta-nay-tain- yin-tha in describing Indigenous Peoples, based on international principles; using the criteria of non-dominance in the national context, historical continuity, ancestral territories and self-identification.
The government recognises eight ethnic groups as national races or taung-yin-tha: Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Chin, Mon, Burman, Arakan and Shan. According to the 1982 Citizenship Law, ethnic groups who have been present in the current geographical area of Myanmar since before 1823 (the beginning of the first British annexation) are considered taung-yin-tha. However, there is a number of ethnic groups that are considered or see themselves as Indigenous Peoples, such as the Naga, that would not identify with any of those groups.