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On Monday 28 September, the Henry Jackson Society hosted ‘Blood Dreams and Gold: The Changing Face of Burma’ with Dr. Richard Cockett alongside Deputy Director Davis Lewin (below).
Since 2011 Burma has changed and become more open, Dr Cockett used this opportunity to interview hundreds of former political prisoners, guerrilla fighters, ministers, monks, and others to give a vivid account of life under one of the most brutal regimes in the world. In many cases, this is the first time that they can tell their stories to the outside world.
He explained why the regime has started to reform politically, and why these reforms will not go as far as many people had hoped. Economically though there is more Asian investment and capacity building coming in, particularly from Japan, but western companies remain cautious.
Starting with the history of the reform programme, Dr. Cockett first explained how Burma came under military rule. Later, he claimed that the annexation of Burma by British forces, and the inclusion into British India led to an influx of migrants, which led to the country becoming commercially successful.
Today though, Burma faces tensions with a large proportion of minority Muslim Rohingya living a modern-day apartheid; many live in poverty and cannot leave the country easily. Simultaneously, the freedoms given alongside Burmese liberal democracy and enjoyed by the majority has resulted in the increased number of attacks on the Muslim group.
The event ended with an opportunity to ask questions and purchase signed books by the author.