You should NOT travel to Myanmar

To travel to Myanmar right now is the wrong thing to do.

I’m going to start off this article by saying that I love Myanmar.

For a long time, Myanmar has been one of my favourite countries to explore. This is a magical land filled with warm and welcoming people, stunning ancient ruins, raw tropical rainforests, mysterious mountains, hidden temples, epic caves and raging rivers… Myanmar is a truly incredible place.

But, right now…

A genocide is occurring in Myanmar

For years now, Myanmar has branded the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and systematically dismantled their legal rights and access to basic services in Rakhine, a state where they have lived for generations.

This has now taken a much darker turn which is impossible to ignore. 

A campaign of terror has been launched by the army as they ‘clear’ Rakhine state of Rohingya ‘militants’.

Children have been thrown alive onto fires.

Pregnant women have been gang raped by soldiers. 

Men have been rounded up and shot en-masse.

Entire villages have been set on fire and bulldozed. 

Military camps have been set up within Rakkine state… The objective of the army is clear, they wish to remove the Rohingya population from Myanmar, permanently.

The army don’t even need to kill them all to achieve their goals… They just need to push them out of Myanmar and into neighbouring Bangladesh through a campaign of horrific violence.  So far, more than half a million people have been forced to flee.

The Rohingya population has fled in the only direction they can… Into Bangladesh where they are forced to live in one massive, sprawling, unsafe refugee camp where the refugees face an almost hopeless situation and young women, many without husbands or fathers (since they have been murdered) have been forced into prostitution in the seedy Bangladeshi underworld to feed their children.

Just outside of the camp, mere meters away, the Myanmar army has set up machine guns and other heavy equipment… the message is clear that if the Rohingya try to return to their homes, they will be murdered.

What about Aung San Suu Kyi?

The darling of the human rights movement and nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi entered into a power sharing deal with the Myanmar army in 2016.

The Myanmar government is comprised of cowards and cunts, animals who believe it is acceptable to lead a campaign of rape and violence against one of the world’s most discriminated against minorities.

Aung Aan Suu Kyi has categorically said that “genocide is too strong a term for what is happening here” and has largely refused to comment on the systematic murder and displacement of the Rohingya, a minority who she should be protecting.

She is a traitor to the human race.

And she would burn in hell (if hell existed)

Please do not travel to Myanmar

If you do, you are trivialising the deaths of tens of thousands.

I understand that Myanmar may appear to be an incredible country but by visiting you are pouring money into government pockets (most hotels and transport companies are owned by the military) as well as legitimising the current government.

There’s more you can do to…

Sign this petition. 

Donate whatever you can spare here. 

Thank you for reading.

13 Comments

  • Brez says:

    Terrible turn of events over there, and have been following the story for months now.
    Had Myanmar on my list of places to visit but it’s been dropped now.
    Very informative article to get the truth out in the open.

  • Florian says:

    Travel boycotts are usually useless. But in the case of Myanmar it might be different:
    1. tourist permits for accommodation are issued by the government and the generals earn their share from tourism (also from visas and entrance fees)
    2. tourism has become more important for the economy and a decline might hurt the government

    On the other hand it still seems more than a little far fetched that the Myanmar government might actually be hurt by such a boycott. And those are the guys we want to target, right?

  • dave says:

    majority of backpackers will put almost zero money into hands of government
    who stays at hotels? and who uses “transport companies”?
    you are wrong to advocate a tourism boycott
    burmese people should be confronted with the different viewpoints of travelers

    • Will Hatton says:

      Dude – almost all licensed guesthouses, and all of the bus companies, are owned by the government. If you go to Bagan or Inle and pay to enter the area, which you have to, that also goes to the government. It’s irresponsible to go to Myanmar with a genoide taking place… it legitimises the Myanmar government.

  • Tim says:

    This is a tough one for me. Even though a percentage of what you spend will undoubtingly end up in the hands of the corrupt and mass-killing government/military leaders, what about the rest of that money spent? There’s people there who put their life savings into starting guesthouses or restaurants and are literally life-dependent on tourism, hoping to finally break themselves out of poverty or provide a better future for their children. What about them? How much of an impact will not going there really have on a state that has already been under military rule for decades?

    • Will Hatton says:

      For sure it’s a personal decision that everybody needs to make themselves, for me though – the general populace in Myanmar seems to have no problem with the genocide of the Rohingya people, I have no desire to support those who do not speak up against atrocities.

  • Cliff Barnes says:

    I doubt one person slumming and scooting around Myanmar/Burma would have any effect politically to that country.
    I’ve been around this part of the world numerous times and while I admire your philanthropy I can’t see how it’ll affect the locals positively in the long run.
    Look at Sri Lanka.
    Last month it reached the stage where Reuters declared that there were muslims rioting in the streets,people cancelled their holidays,a state of emergency declared and martial law had been put in place to quell any Islamic uprising.I was there and what actually happened was that a couple of muslims got pissed off with a Buddhist fella,had a fight and the Buddhist guy died a few days later from the injuries.There was a certain antipathy between the religions but that’s always been there.Western media even brought the Tamil tigers into the equation and they are Hindus.
    My point is this.
    With more losses to the poverty stricken people who are already on the breadline how will taking tourism away from them serve a purpose in practical terms ?
    A bottle of water,laundry,day trips etc. sustain these people from day to day.If anyone wants to stop a genocide protest and petition the local Israeli embassy because they are raping Palestine.

  • Gabrielle says:

    THANK YOU! Myanmar is the travel darling of the moment and it honestly disgusts me that people are visiting and seemingly oblivious to the genocide… will be sharing this post!!

  • TYRONE says:

    wow ,Thanks for this sad information about the atrocities going on in Myanmar as i am in the process of planning an overland trip from Hua Hin To Goa via Myanmar and Bangladesh .geez i feel a bit stupid and sick not realizing what is actually happening there .Definately will not be going that way now thinking i would support a government in any way involved in this horror .
    Thanks Will ,luv your style.

  • Geo says:

    To what extent can we confirm that “genocide” is actually occuring in Myanmar at this point. It is obvious that Myanmar is shaping up to be an important part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” system and will be integral in shipping oil overland to China via Iran sea-shipping.

    It is not beyond the pale to wonder if our mainstream media wants to paint such a nation as one so horrific it needs to be “regime changed” i.e. to have an anti-China, pro-US leadership installed, in order to damage the Chinese’ plans for SE Asian development?

    Just a thought, hope people appreciate others breaking the echo chamber.

    • Will Hatton says:

      Whilst I concur with you that the media can be utilised for regime change, I do not think that is what is happening here. For starters, regime change looks unlikely – nobody of influence has really taken any steps to change the genocide. Secondly, there are satellite photos showing villages that have been destroyed… go check it out for yourself, it’s horrific. Thirdyly, there is SO much evidence… such as thousands of people fleeing into Bangladesh.. why would they flee if there was no danger? I get your point but I disagree entirely, the evidence is overwhelming.

  • Aye says:

    Dear Will,
    Mingalarbar, my name is Aye and I’m Myanmar writing to you from Yangon. I am a tour operator and we have been running our family business for nearly 25 years. It saddens me to see that an influential person like you is using your platform to boycott travelling to Myanmar. I respect your decision to not promote Myanmar to your readers however I would like to say that we Myanmar people (Burmese, Shan, Kachin, Chin, Rakhine and the rest of the over 100 ethnic groups living in Myanmar) do not ignore or agree with the atrocities you have described above. It is horrendous. However we have been living harmoniously all Buddhist, Muslim, Christians, Hindus, and many religions together in various parts of the country as you will have experienced during your visit to Myanmar.
    The media can be very biased and frankly speaking we are a very poor country without the financial and media exposure to tell ALL stories to the rest of the world. I noticed that all links you have attached are how Rohingya people are suffering and there is a genocide in the country. But dear Will, all of us are suffering however there is little to no article in the media about how the rest of the people in Myanmar feel. Please think about how important lack of representation in the media is too.
    There is no excuse about how far Myanmar, the government, the military, & the people have to make amends for what has happened however we are a very young (less than 3 years old) democratic country.
    The National League of Democracy (NLD) has to strategically react since the military still remains strong as well. Daw Aung San Su Kyi is just a State Counsellor and she has very little say in the actions of the army. She has done so much more for the country, for all Myanmar people which we do not expect people from outside the country to understand. She is definitely not a “traitor to the human race”.
    We depend on travelers from all around the world to come see Myanmar. Seeing is believing. I would like to invite everyone to please visit the country and listen to all our stories. We are more than just what you see in the media and please help the people in Rakhine State, in Bagan, Inle Lake, hotel owners, B&B owners, trekking guides whose livelihoods depend on people like you. The local businesses like my family need you to support us to continue to exist. In the end, it affects every single ethnicity, religion, and all Myanmar people.
    We cannot wait to welcome everyone from around the world and hope you can also give our people and country a second chance as we are always trying to give back to our local family and continue our passion in the travel industry.

    Kind Regards,

    Aye

    • Will Hatton says:

      Hi Aye and thanks for your long message 🙂 You raise some valid points – it is true that many minorities in Myanmar are struggling right now and I appreciate your point of view. You point out that ‘seeing is believing’ and I agree with you… however, it is not possible for foreigners to enter the parts of Rakhine or Shan state where the army are active… so we cannot see, we can only rely on the mountains of evidence presented to us that these atrocities are occurring… mass rapes, mass murders, entire villages burnt to the ground. Aung San Suu Kyi was, for a long time, a hero of mine… however, to see her shrug off the genocide in Rakhine during numerous interviews broke my heart – She is a women who should not be afraid to be imprisoned or ostracised by other political parties in Myanmar for protecting the weak; indeed, she spent much of her life in prison – yet she will not speak up to protect the Muslim minority. I really do appreciate your well-written message and I understand your dissapointment that I have used my influence on this matter to condone travel to Myanmar; it was a hard decision for me, I’ve been to Myanmar three times and I love the country, the people, the culture and the pace of life. Unfortunately, I cannot say nothing… not when I have a platform that would-be tourists to Myanmar actually read. If people want to go to Myanmar, I do not wish to stop them – only to properly educate and inform them of the situation on the ground. You point out that many local people are not happy with the situation in Rakhine, I believe you. However, far too many normal people in Myanmar are inciting religious and ethnic violence and this is a tool that is used by the military government to push their own agenda. All in, I doubt that my rant on not visiting Myanmar will have any real affect on people choosing to go or not, but I feel that it’s important to highlight these issues so that tourists to the country know to engage in conversation with locals they meet – through cross-cultural exchanges of ideas and points of view, hopefully the situation can improve. Wishing you all the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *