After 50 years of a military rule that banned anything that could spark a revolution, Burma has begun to embrace new cultural freedoms. Before the 2010 November elections, groups of five people or more were not allowed to gather on the street. But things have begun to change. For one group especially, that change is becoming evident: Burma’s punks.
In the past, punks had to remain underground and could even be jailed or tortured. In Burma, just as in other parts of the world where punks perform, song lyrics often challenge authority. And the lyrics of Rangoon’s punks are often politically motivated, dealing with everyday human rights violations and the harsh living conditions people live under in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. Because of this, punk was often silenced.
Today, punks can perform more freely around the city, but they still need permission from the authorities and there is always the threat of being shut down by the police. For most of the people involved in the scene, punk is not only about music but has also become a way to foster community. Punk has become a way to help each other, to give food to the people that live on the streets or even fundraise for a school in the countryside for children that don’t have one.
In Burma today, punk rock is changing mentalities and speaking out against the government and repressive religious rules.
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