Burma in “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell Essay
Overview of Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi
Burma is known as Myanmar and holds the highest record of human rights violation. The eye-catching issue in Burma is the long duration of military rule, from 1962 to 2011 (BBC par 1). A new constitution was formed in 2008, and it gave way for civilians to hold political positions.
Aung San Suu Kyi was an opposition group during the grand general election in 2010. The group opposed the elections since they were marred with impunity. The Burma military junta regarded the Aung San Suu Kyi as ‘democratic fighter’ because it led to ethnic tension in Burma. Additionally, the international human rights community viewed Aung San Suu Kyi group as a symbol of ‘freedom from oppression’ in Burma (BBC par 4).
The official name of Burma is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Burma is the largest ethnic group in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. According to the UN 2012 report, the country has a total population of 48.7 million, and its capital city is Nay Pyi Taw. Major religions are Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. Burma has experienced three major Anglo-Burmese wars in 1824, 1852, and 1885 (BBC par 4).
The first Anglo-Burmese war lasted for two years due to the intervention of the Treaty of Yandabo. The second Anglo-Burmese war was in 1852 and led to the removal of British governor from the political post. The Postcolonial Anglo-Burmese war occurred in 1885 where the British had an intention of conquering the remainder of Burma (BBC par 6).
Nature of Colonization
The story “Shooting an Elephant” expresses ways of gaining and destroying personal freedom under military rule. The soldier in the story has an Indian origin and goes ahead to shoot an elephant. The shooting of the elephant was in line with the will of the people, but the soldier feels guilty for denying the elephant its rights to live.
Orwell describes the humiliation he undergoes before his native people due to the oppression from the British Empire. The British practiced imperialism during the Anglo-Burmese wars. Imperialism affects both the oppressor and the oppressed, according to the Orwell narration (Orwell 2).
Orwell; who is a Burmese works as a British soldier and is displeased with the ruling nature of the Britain toward the Burmese. The unjust system of power results in doing activities that are wrong according to personal conscious. Orwell kills an elephant that was calm out of high pressure from the colonialists, and the locals. In other terms, the soldier thinks that the oppressor does not have control on the cause of actions that takes place at the community level (Orwell 4).
Tools of State Power
In Burma, there is extreme brutality of the police force unlike the police in the United States. The military junta instils fear among the residents and denies them freedom of expression. According to Larkin (15), Orwell worked for the military without any form of external influence. Orwell used his conscious in making influential military decisions even though the military coup on the rise.
The colonial experience in Burma varies greatly from the leadership tools used in the United States (Larkin 67). In the United States, there is minimal use of military force in governing the States, whereas in Burma the military junta is the ruling body that controls even the opposition. There is a heavy punishment on the people that violate the military rules, whereas, in the United States, the citizens participate in dialogue sessions for efficient governing (Larkin 119).
BBC. “Myanmar Profile.” bbc.com. 2014.
Larkin, Emma. Finding George Orwell in Burma. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2011.
Orwell, George. Shooting an Elephant. London: Penguin UK, 2003.
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