x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chronicles of horror over decades in troubled Myanmar

Burma looks back over five decades of turmoil in a South East Asian country at a crossroads.

Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads
Benedict Rogers
Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads Benedict Rogers

"The soldiers tore out his eyes, cut off his lips and chopped off both ears. Then they let him go, and he died in the forest."

This is just one of countless horrifying first-hand accounts of crimes against humanity recorded by Benedict Rogers during his fact-finding trips to Myanmar.

For the past five decades the impoverished South East Asian country has been ruled by a succession of military juntas. As Rogers writes, the generals have used systematic murder, rape and torture against their own citizens to maintain their grip on power in the face of multiple ethnic insurgencies and a remarkably resilient democratic reform movement.

The journalist and human rights activist chronicles - analytically, comprehensively and in great depth - Myanmar's tumultuous modern history, from the final years of the colonial era to the decidedly fragile democratic reform programme that is currently under way.

Sometimes excessive detail and a heavy use of acronyms can make it a bit laborious, but for anyone looking for a crash course in the country's struggles for democracy and regional ethnic autonomy, this is a valuable resource.