Should I Have Traveled To Myanmar?
Although Myanmar has seen a positive shift since the process of liberalization began in 2010 and with the first democratically elected government in 2015, this is mainly confined to larger cities and tourists towns. Many regions are off limits as disturbing civil unrest is currently unfolding. The Muslim Rohingya are being persecuted, denied citizenship and murdered although they are indigenous to Myanmar. To flee a country that doesn’t consider you their own is utterly barbaric.
Was it appropriate for me to travel to Myanmar with the current ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya at the hands of the military? In essence, would I be supporting the militia because of the money I would spend? Or was I justified in my decision to go as I was helping to support the locals? I was pulled in opposing directions as I never want others to assume I am more concerned with ticking another country off my list while ignoring human rights violations. What is the answer?
I had discussions with other travelers and researched the situation. When I made the call to go, it was with hesitation. But after spending a week traveling from Mandalay to Yangon, I know I made the correct choice. Although brief, I discussed with both locals and expats regarding the political climate and wanted their honest viewpoint? Do they see us “westerners” as soulless individuals who are more concerned with selfies than human rights violations? Or are they happy to have people come and support them and their families? The answers were always astoundingly positive. They themselves are horrified but know they need tourists to help support their business and communities. They don’t want to have another military coup d’etat like that one that began their authoritarian rule in 1962.