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Myanmar or Burma? (part 2)

By Sean Maguire
October 24, 2007

Monks protest in Yangon, Sept 24Interesting reader question asking if Reuters has a reporting presence in Myanmar and whether that influenced our 1998 decison to stop calling the country Burma.

Yes, we do have a reporter based in Yangon. His name is Aung Hla Tun and he has worked for us for about 15 years. He reported bravely and openly throughout the recent disturbances, providing the world’s media with detailed coverage of the protests and their suppression. He took the photograph that accompanies this post.

And no, his presence in Mynamar had nothing to do with our name change. We take great care over the safety of our staff. But the naming decision was based on other factors. Many other  international news organisations without reporters based in Myanmar have made the switch.

It was pointed out that the BBC still calls the country Burma. The British broadcaster argues that is because its audience is more familiar with that name than with Myanmar. That’s one where we differ from our colleagues at the BBC.  


The country formerly known as Burma

The correct name for the country formerly known as “Burma” is – Burma. The name “Myanmar” that seems to be rapidly gaining usage by many media outlets since the recent cyclone is not the correct name for the country. “Myanmar” is the name chosen by the military junta – this decision was not approved by any sitting legislature in Burma.

Indeed the elected government of Burma (now in exile), and the vast majority of the people of Burma (not to mention the CIA World Fact Book) still prefer the correct name, “Burma”.

Yours aye,
Mark Baxter
New Zealand

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