December 2011

Yangon – Artists in Myanmar are testing new freedoms through films shown at a festival that for the first time in the country’s recent history were not censored.

“The Art of Freedom Film Festival” began screening films on Saturday that were not approved by the strict Film Censorship Board. (more…)

A government-appointed human rights body has appealed to the Burmese president to release prisoners who are not a threat to stability, state media reported yesterday.

Burma’s three state-owned newspapers ran the appeal by National Human Rights Commission chairman Win Mra calling on President Thein Sein to issue a general amnesty. Publication of the appeal is significant because the newspapers closely reflect government thinking. However, previous calls for a general amnesty for inmates considered political prisoners have not resulted in a full release. (more…)

Yangon – U.S. billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros will meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon next week, a spokesman for the democracy campaigner said on Friday.

The financier – one of the world’s richest men who funds pro-democracy initiatives in Myanmar – will visit Suu Kyi at her home on Monday, her party spokesman Nyan Win told AFP, without giving details of the topics to be discussed.

Tour guides are calling for an overhaul of a newly formed industry association that they say is imposing “unreasonable” and “ridiculous” regulations on their work.

U Htun Myat, a spokesman for the Myanmar Tourist Guide Association (MTGA), said many guides refused to accept new regulations that require them to wear uniforms, attend refresher courses and work according to a roster set by the association. (more…)

The government will work with foreign partners to improve its international standing and help the country develop, President U Thein Sein said in his opening address at the Greater Mekong Sub-region Summit last week.

“The new government is endeavouring to shape Myanmar into a peaceful, modern and developed democratic state. We are doing democratic reform tasks in all sectors, as well as economic development to improve the living standards of the people. You can see the government’s activities in this regard are steady and obvious,” he said at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Nay Pyi Taw on December 20, the second day of the two-day summit. (more…)

Freedom of press and democracy are essential for building up a democratic state. On the contrary, the lack of freedom of press will not result in democratic practices, according to Chairman Thura U Aye Myint of Pyithu Hluttaw Sports, Culture and Public Relation Development Committee at the meeting held in Hotel Yangon on 23 December. (more…)

When their daughter died in an accident while helping to improve the lives of orphans living in Burma, Beryl and Steve Lee pledged to continue her work. They spoke to reporter KATIE BLACKBURN about fundraising £70,000 every year to help keep her legacy going (more…)

Kyauk Pru: Local farmers in Arakan State have recently lodged a written complaint with the central government because they have become landless after their arable land in Kyaukpru was secretly grabbed and leased to a foreign company by a retired Burmese naval officer. (more…)

India, Dec. 31 — The exports for pulses from Myanmar is in full pace. Shipments of exported beans and pulses rose by 39% to 64,104 MT in November month as compared to same period of previous year. Approximately 66% of total shipments i.e. 42,348 MT was exported to India.

Urad (Black matpe) accounted for 30% of total Myanmar exports to India, while Tur and Moong accounted for 58% and 10% respectively of total pulses exported to India.

Burma is No. 10 on a list of wars in 2012, according to the International Crisis Groups (ICC ), an NGO that seeks to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts.

Louise Arbour, the group’s president, said in a statement the list reflects the ranking of wars at risk of deteriorating further in 2012. (more…)

The year 2011 has arguably been Burma’s most interesting and significant year in decades. It began like so many others—with little hope of real change, despite plans to transfer power to an ostensibly civilian government following discredited elections held in late 2010—but ends with many now believing the country is finally on the road to irreversible reforms. (more…)

Naypyidaw: Myanmar’s army-backed regime may free more political prisoners on the upcoming national holidays of January 4 and February 12, an official from the lower house of parliament said today.

“More prisoners of conscience will be released very soon for sure,” Aung Ko, chairman of the judicial and legal affairs committee of the lower house, told reporters in Naypyidaw.

Yangon, Myanmar — Myanmar set parliamentary by-elections for April 1, scheduling a highly anticipated vote that will return pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to mainstream politics after two decades.

Before state media reported the date late Friday, Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy had said they planned to run in every seat in the by-election. (more…)

Nay Pyi Taw, 29 Dec — Leader of Union Level Peacemaking Group Taungtha Township Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Aung Thaung, deputy leader of the group Myitkyina Township Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Thein Zaw and members Union Minister for Cooperatives and for Livestock and Fisheries U Ohn Myint, Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry Win Tun, Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Maung Maung Thein and deputy ministers, the deputy Attorney-General and members arrived in Mongla of Shan State at 9.45 am on 27 December. (more…)

As 2011 comes to an end, 11 Burmese journalists and writers still languish in prison for trying to exercise basic human rights.

An updated list by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) showed the list contains journalists, photographers, a blogger and a poet. (more…)

After being abused by a senior officer, Aung Ko Lat, 21, deserted from his Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 230 that was operating in Hlaingbwe Township in Karen State. Aung Ko Lat explained to Karen News that he deserted his unit on December 12, 2011 and turned himself in to the Karen National Union after alleged continue abuse by his Company Commander, Captain Win Htite. (more…)

Burmese government troops took over a major military base belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Brigade 4 on Wednesday, although hostilities in the area continue, according to KIA sources.

The base—located in Mong Tong Township in northern Shan State—is considered strategic at it lies in the path of the trans-Burma oil and gas pipeline. (more…)

In a year that saw many unexpected developments in Burma, some names stand out among those who made the news in 2011. Below is a list of just some of those who played an important role in the past year, including some who may be even more newsworthy in the year ahead.

George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has arrived in Burma on an eight-day visit that will take him to various parts of the country including the troubled Shan ethnic region and Rangoon, the former capital, where he is due to meet Burmese figures including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Yangon – US billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros will meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon next week, a spokesman for the democracy campaigner said on Friday.

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