January 2012

Dumhpawng Kawng, Myanmar — When the Burmese soldiers dumped the body of a young ethnic Kachin guerrilla fighter outside a jungle hut in front of his commander, he was still in his uniform. His right hand had been shredded with a knife. There was a large gunshot wound in his stomach.

Laiza, Burma] — The leadership of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Burma’s last major armed ethnic group still engaged in armed conflict with the central government, say they want a formal ‘political dialogue’ to begin with Burma’s retired General Thein Sein’s government and will not take part in “ceasefire talks”. (more…)

Hkun Okker, Chairman of the PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO), speaking at the closing ceremony of the 11th batch of the Shan State Social Justice Education Programme training on Sunday, 29 January, said the identities of Burma’s multi-ethnic peoples hang in the balance as long as the country’s latest constitution which is “of the military, by the military, for the military” is not amended or jettisoned. (more…)

The new media law bill to be introduced in the Burmese Parliament in February will make major changes to Burma’s media landscape, said an official quoted in the Myanmar Times on Monday.

However, he said that the law will apply only to print publications and not to broadcast or online media. (more…)

New Delhi – Members of eight Burmese political parties arrived in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss the Kaladan River project, a joint India-Burma trade venture.

One woman pro-democracy activist who took the Burma government’s invitation to return home seriously is Daw San Dar Win, a teacher, who works at Burma Migrant Education Department in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

As foreign investors get ready to strike it rich once sanctions are lifted, Rangoon’s poorest fear they will lose out again

In the single street of Rangoon’s crowded Bothun San neighbourhood, attention is focused on the daily afternoon lottery. Hugely popular among the near-destitute labourers and their families, and played between neighbours on the flattened earth, it offers the prospect of a square meal rather than immediate life-changing wealth. (more…)

Four privately-owned Burmese banks will next month open exchange services in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in a bid to ease problems with remittances from Burmese migrant workers abroad and increase connectivity with ASEAN economies. (more…)

Burma’s Minister of Finance and Revenue, U Hla Tun, formally presented the government’s budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year (FY) to Parliament on Tuesday. The budget reportedly allocates an increased percentage of spending to health and education and a decrease in percentage spending to the military.

U Hla Tun visited Parliament on Tuesday and presented each MP with a copy of the FY 2012-13 budget for all of the government’s 34 ministries, as well as for “national projects.” (more…)

Humanitarian workers in northern Burma have expressed deep concern about the health conditions of thousands of war refugees in Kachin State who have been displaced along the Sino-Burmese border for eight months.

Aid workers said that preventable illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions and cold weather are taking their toll on more than 45,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) in two dozen camps as sporadic fighting between the Burmese government army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continues.

Singapore – Myanmar President Thein Sein said his government was committed to political reform and would put the stability of the country ahead of economic development, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The president, in Singapore for a three-day official visit that began on Sunday, has overseen dramatic reforms over the past few months, including the freeing of hundreds of political prisoners, a loosening of media controls and engagement with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the fight for democracy. (more…)

Burmese President Thein Sein has denied his country is trying to obtain nuclear weapons from North Korea, describing allegations of an illicit programme as “unfounded”, in remarks published Tuesday.

“We are not acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea,” the Straits Times quoted him as saying in an interview during a four-day state visit to Singapore. (more…)

The recent developments in Burma are increasingly being followed by the international community.

On January 23 the European national foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the latest events and developments in Burma, including the release recently of a significant number
of political prisoners. As a result of the meeting, the European Union’s visa ban on Burma’s president, vice presidents, cabinet members and parliamentary speakers was suspended. (more…)

UN Special Rapporteur for Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana will travel to Burma today (Reuters)
The UN’s special rapporteur for Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, will arrive in Rangoon this afternoon to assess claims made by the government that it has embarked on a reform programme to bring to an end decades of human rights abuses against Burmese.

David Cameron has hailed Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi as a “figure of brilliance” who should steer the West’s response to the opening up of Burma.

The Prime Minister was speaking after EU leaders in Brussels vowed to ease EU “restrictive measures” following her release after seven years of house arrest in November 2010.

Naypyidaw, Burma — This “city of magnificent distances” sprawls on a pancake-flat plain four hours north of Burma’s largest city and former capital, Rangoon. On November 6, 2005, at a time apparently chosen by astrologers, Naypyidaw became the country’s new capital, and the first convoy of government workers was dispatched up the highway to the dusty city-in-progress. The official explanation for the move was that British-built Rangoon had become too congested.Some observers, however, suggested the move could be defensive, to forestall a feared attack on Rangoon by the U.S. Navy; others pointed out the long tradition of Burma’s rulers shifting the kingdom’s capital in order to cement (in the most literal sense) the legacy of their rule. (more…)

Nowadays the Burmese “sanctions” question is a hot topic. I have neither opposed nor supported Western sanctions because I believe it’s not the main reason for the problems of our motherland, including the bad economy.

IN the last 10 months since its new civilian government came to power, Myanmar has impressed the world with its remarkable efforts to re-engage the international community after five decades under military rule.

The regime in Myanmar has freed scores of high-profile political prisoners including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, opened peace talks with ethnic rebels and loosened controls on the media, to name but a few of the reforms. These actions have not gone unnoticed by the West. The European Union last week began relaxing its sanctions by lifting travel bans on top Myanmar officials, while the United States has been full of praise for the South-east Asian state’s baby steps in returning to democracy. (more…)

DAWEI, Myanmar — Euphoric seas of supporters waved opposition party flags and offered yellow garlands. They lined crumbling roads for miles and climbed atop trees, cars and roofs as Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at impromptu rallies. Some cried as her convoy passed. (more…)

Aung San Suu Kyi recorded a message upon receiving the Global Vision Award from the Asia Society. Encouraged by recent developments, she spoke of Myanmar being “on the verge of making a breakthrough to democracy.” (more…)

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