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Burma: Past, Present, and Future

Welcome to the Humanosphere podcast, our weekly look at the world of global health and development. Tom and I begin with a discussion on the headlines – everything from May Day in Seattle and Bangladesh to abortion access in El Salvador.

Then we turn to Burma, also known as Myanmar. We speak with Pwint Htun, who left Burma in ninth grade amidst a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, and resettled here in Seattle.

Her mother, a doctor, treated wounded demonstrators, and her family was blacklisted and forced to flee. Htun was the first recipient of a Prospect Burma scholarship, established using the prize money Aung San Suu Kyi donated after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. When Cyclone Nargis struck in 2008, she coordinated shipments of over 12 million water purification tablets into Burma.

These days, she’s making frequent trips back to Burma as a telecommunications consultant for The World Bank and others. The country has embarked on a process of reforms but where will it go from here? Htun gives us an inside-look at Burma past, present, and future, including its brief stint of democratic rule after colonialism. And she explains what useful, as opposed to harmful, interventions in Burma by Western businesses and NGOs should look like.

Listen below.


About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at] or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.