Burma: Revolution on Wheels

A major reduction in Internet censorship brings Western skating culture to Burma

Credit: Dave Gutt

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Since gaining independence in 1948, Burma, also known as Myanmar, has withstood a near-constant stream of political and social change. But in the past few years, the turmoil has finally begun to cool down. Former hotbeds of violent protest have become areas where people gather for more peaceful purposes. One such place is the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, where young skateboarders practice and learn new tricks.

Skateboarding wasn’t well-known among Myanmar’s youth until 2011, when the government loosened its Internet censorship restrictions. Suddenly the people of Myanmar could access new cultural influences from the West. Many of the skaters say they learned how by watching famous skaters like Tony Hawk online. For these young people, skateboarding offers a new way to escape their everyday lives.

Since gaining independence in 1948, Burma, also known as Myanmar, has withstood a near-constant stream of political and social change. But in the past few years, the turmoil has finally begun to cool down. Former hotbeds of violent protest have become areas where people gather for more peaceful purposes. One such place is the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, where young skateboarders practice and learn new tricks.

Skateboarding wasn’t well-known among Myanmar’s youth until 2011, when the government loosened its Internet censorship restrictions. Suddenly the people of Myanmar could access new cultural influences from the West. Many of the skaters say they learned how by watching famous skaters like Tony Hawk online. For these young people, skateboarding offers a new way to escape their everyday lives.

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