Buddhism facts

24 facts the world should know about Burma | National Catholic Registry

About 78% of Burmese population identifies as Buddhist and 7% is Catholic.

Burma is named after the Burmese, the majority ethnic group of their country. However, there are 146 other ethnicities they live with. Burmese overthrew their socialist dictatorship 10 years ago, though the military has maintained a menacing stance power behind the throne in their parliament because their Constitution reserves 25% of its seats for military officers. On February 2, they returned to subjugate the population as they had done twice before. The last time they relinquished power was in 2010. Burma has made great strides towards entering the modern community of nations over the past 10 years. The socialist junta wants nothing more than to undo all the progress it has made so far.

It’s a kind of Communist Groundhog Day. A nightmare from which it is difficult to wake up.

As I write this, I sit 2 miles from the front line that separates nonviolent protesters and the armed forces hoping to subdue them. Recently, the army shot an unarmed 14-year-old boy in the head. I was shocked to witness it and felt a dizzying nausea wash over me. Pray for the Burmese people.

Some additional facts to know about Burma:

1. It is the second largest opium producer – 25% of the world‘s opium can be traced back to its Golden Triangle which it shares with Laos and Thailand.

2. It is also one of the world’s largest producers of methamphetamines. She also traffics methamphetamines stamped with the label “Made in China”.

3. The nation is a major human trafficking route for “wives” (a reprehensible euphemism) sold to lonely Chinese businessmen.

4. Burma is home to the world’s longest civil war, which has lasted nearly 75 years.

5. There are currently 13 insurgencies across the country, all of which have been fighting for at least 60 years, including the infamous Rohingya attacks.

6. Burma is home to 146 ethnic groups other than the Burmese, the ethnic group that gave the country its name. They represent approximately 57% of the population.

seven. Burma and Laos are the two poorest nations in Southeast Asia.

8. Myanmar was embroiled in ethnic conflict for most years after its independence from Britain in 1948.

9. HIV/AIDS is rampant in Burma. The NIH estimates that there are currently 687,000 cases in Burma, mostly due to intravenous heroin use.

ten. Alcoholism is rampant, as is marijuana addiction.

11. Myanmar’s military dictatorship, which began in 1962, was officially dissolved in 2010, but still wields enormous power. Ethnic groups with a Christian majority were targets of abuse. More than 3,000 Christian villages have been destroyed in 10 years. But despite the efforts of xenophobic nationalists to destroy Christianity, it continues to grow.

12. The Burmese majority comprises 57% of Myanmar’s population.

13. About 78% of the population identifies as Buddhist and 7% is Catholic. In general, the Burmese are very benevolent towards Catholics, but less so towards Protestants.

14. All foreign missionaries were expelled from Myanmar in 1966, requiring missionaries to surrender their property to the socialist regime without compensation. For example, the 400 schools of the Catholic Church in Burma have been nationalized.

15. Before the first socialist junta, Burmese were the best educated people in Southeast Asia.

16. Theravada Buddhism is the most common form of Buddhism in Myanmar

17. Indigenous religion, which predates Buddhism, is centered on appeasement nats(ghosts) – 38 interior nats and 38 in the open – which are meant to protect (or harass) those who believe in them.

18. Christian missionaries brought the concept of social justice to the nation. Buddhist temples have only recently started caring for the poor who have lived near them for the past 10 years. They also established temple schools, which are generally better than secular schools.

19. Prior to the Communist regime which was installed in 1988, the Catholic Church operated nearly 400 schools across the country.

20. Prior to 1888, the Catholic Church operated thousands of clinics and hospitals. Currently there is only one left and it was built in 2013. It also has a dental practice run by a priest who is also a trained dentist.

21. The Catholic Church currently operates hundreds of orphanages that teach life and work skills to their charges, including baking, auto repair, computer office skills, and nursing.

22. The country has a large number of “barefoot doctors” who operate with minimal training but otherwise serve populations that do not have access to real doctors with real drugs.

23. Protestants and Catholics have built thousands of orphanages and tutoring centers – but they are still prohibited from building schools even after all this time.

24. The Burmese are extraordinarily kind and generous despite the fact that they have nothing. I am grateful for their acceptance and care. When the bullets started flying, my friends dragged me home through the live ammunition and obstacles the protesters had erected the night before. I have witnessed great atrocities committed by the junta and remarkable humanism here from these very oppressed and dignified people.