MPs representing the military arrive for a parliamentary session in the Naypyidaw, Burma,  June 20th, 2014.
MPs representing the military arrive for a parliamentary session in the Naypyidaw, Burma, June 20, 2014.Adam Dean—Panos
MPs representing the military arrive for a parliamentary session in the Naypyidaw, Burma,  June 20th, 2014.
National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi campaigns in Aungban, Shan State, Burma, Mar. 1, 2012.
National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters celebrate at their headquarters as they watch election results Yangon, Burma, Apr. 1, 2012.
MPs arrive at the Parliament in Naypyidaw, Burma,  June 20th, 2014.
Students visit the Military Museum where  paintings of military leaders hang in Naypyidaw, Burma, Sept. 19, 2014.
Workers make clothes for export  at a factory in Yangon, Burma, Sept. 18, 2014.
A farmer hauls cut grass through fields in Kawhmu Township—Suu Kyi's constituency—now owned by investors,  Sept. 17, 2014.
Evidence of ethnic strife as seen by burned trees and destroyed buildings in the Muslim quarter in Meikhtila, Burma, May 23, 2013.
Aung San Suu Kyi leaves after speaking at a rally  in Yay Tar Shay Township, Bago Region, Burma,  June 21st, 2014.
Children are seen in Daw Pon,  near Thilawa Special Economic Zone  near Yangon, Burma, Sept. 20, 2014.
Passengers, some using smart phones, ride a bus in Yangon, Burma, June 21st, 2014.
Patients in a ward at Thabarwa Meditation Centre, which helps  people and families who cannot afford government healthcare, in Yangon, Burma, Sept. 20, 2014.
KIA soldiers in Laiza, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controlled territory of Kachin State, Burma, Nov. 9th, 2014.
High School and University students receive drill instructions  in Laiza, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) controlled territory of Kachin State, Burma, Nov. 10th,  2014.
A woman at the Je Yang IDP camp in Kachin State, Nov. 9th,  2014.
Aung San Suu Kyi talks to visiting students from Meiktila , during a break in a parliamentary session in Naypyidaw, June 20th, 2014.
MPs representing the military arrive for a parliamentary session in the Naypyidaw, Burma, June 20, 2014.
Adam Dean—Panos
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Burma Counts Down to Elections But Democracy Remains a Distant Dream

Nov 20, 2014

In late October or early November next year Burma will go to the polls. However, the nation, officially now known as Myanmar, remains a long way from realizing true democracy.

Nobel Peace Price winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 years under house arrest since returning to her homeland in 1988, was elected to parliament in April 2012, but remains constitutionally barred from becoming president.

In shunning the pro-democracy icon, Burma’s indomitable military demonstrates that it continues to influence all aspects of life.

The easing of Western economic sanctions has seen Burma's long-cloistered economy pried open — cellphones and ATMs are now commonplace — but reform has largely been confined to sectors that benefit the generals and their cronies.

In ethnic border regions, rebel groups continue to battle the Burmese Army for greater autonomy, despite a raft of peace deals. Human rights abuses continue unabated; some advocacy groups say they have even increased.

In Burma's western Rakhine State, the much-maligned Rohingya Muslim minority faces strict curbs on marriage, movement, population growth and education. Over 100,000 of this wretched community fester in squalid ghettos following pogroms by radical Buddhists. Access to food and healthcare is severely limited.

For them, as will the 60% of Burma's 53 million population who continue to struggle in dire poverty, reforms have so far promised much but delivered little. For the past two years, photographer Adam Dean has been documenting Burma's stumbling transition.

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