22 Nov 2006

Myanmar: Life under sanctions

Published on Al Jazzera,
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
By Veronica Pedrosa in Yangon, Myanmar


On the bustling streets of Yangon, there is little on the surface to differentiate it from other South-east Asian cities.

The buses are overloaded, hawkers at street stalls yell out to attract buyers. In the music shops you can buy Myanmar rap, while hip hop-style graffiti is daubed on pedestrian crossings.

But this is urban life under a military government and things are not what they seem.

Residents go about their daily business in spite of US sanctions aimed at forcing the hand of the military government, and in spite of the extraordinary control that government exercises in every facet of their lives.

In the main streets it seems as if there is brisk trade at the stalls, but take a walk down the back streets, you can see how sanctions have forced people to be resourceful.

Repair shops are a common sight in a country where goods need to last longer.

The government says the economy is growing at 12 per cent a year - faster than China - but there is little evidence to bear that out.

In a country used to isolation, sanctions have only hardened the military's position against the US...

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