Myanmar tells leader: Stop calling us Burma
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar has changed dramatically over the past year, but one thing won’t change anytime soon: the country’s name.
Authorities in the Southeast Asian nation sternly warned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday to stop calling the country “Burma.” They said she should use the constitutionally decreed title, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
Its then-military rulers changed the English name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, ostensibly to better reflect the country’s ethnic diversity. The term Burma connotes Burman, the dominant ethnic group in the country, to the exclusion of ethnic minorities. But regime opponents and exile groups from a range of ethnicities — as well as foreign governments including the United States — have persisted in calling the country Burma in protest and defiance against an undemocratic regime they long saw as illegitimate.
Myanmar’s election commission, which supervises laws dealing with political parties, issued the complaint in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper. The statement cited Suu Kyi’s repeated references to the country as Burma during her landmark trips in recent weeks to Thailand and Europe, and it said she and her National League for Democracy Party must “respect the constitution” and use the proper name.
It’s not clear whether there are any legal consequences for not doing so.