U Nu meets Gandhi, 1947.
U Nu meets Gandhi, 1947.

Delhi – Yangon – Delhi

A trip across borders geographical, political and cultural unravels the complex histories between India, Myanmar and their peoples

My association with the Burmese community living in exile in India began when I helped secure the release of Burmese pro-democracy activists from an Indian jail in 1989. The first activist I managed to bail out was a student of the Rangoon Institute of Technology, who, after police shot a student protestor named Phone Maw in March 1988, rose up to spark off what became the nationwide 8888 Uprising. The second activist I helped release was a Chin woman who joined the national uprising and had to leave her four children behind in Myanmar. Although at the time they were the only Burmese activists in Delhi, I noticed that the two did not interact at all, and carried out their activities separately. That was my first glimpse into the ethnic minority issues of Myanmar.

Almost all those who came to India after taking part in the national uprising of 8 August 1988 (hence 8888) finally opted for resettlement in a third country, moving on to Europe, Australia or the USA. In the West, they got opportunities to study, work and buy property. Since then, many of them have become full-fledged citizens; one of them, now in Norway, even teaches more recent Burmese arrivals about the Norwegian way of life.

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian