March 2012


Rangoon—Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said that Sunday’s by-elections will be neither free nor fair because of widespread irregularities, but vowed to continue her candidacy to press forward with reform.

The Nobel laureate said opposition candidates had suffered stone-throwing incidents and other intimidation that hampered their campaigning in the run-up to the weekend poll. (more…)

Pro-democracy icon says Myanmar’s by-elections will not be “free and fair”, but vows to contest for sake of country.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, has said that campaign irregularities threaten the fairness of upcoming by-elections, but vowed to press forward with her bid for a seat in parliament for the sake of the country.
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Journalists will be forbidden from taking photographs or conducting interview within 500 metres of a polling station on April 1, the head of the Union Election Commission said last week.

“Journalists can collect news and photos only outside the polling station. But no interviews are allowed within a radius of 500 yards; if we receive complaints that any photographs are being taken or any interviewing is disrupting a candidate or voter, we will take legal action against [those responsible],” commission chairman U Tin Aye said at a press conference on March 28. (more…)

Bangkok — Myanmar’s special election Sunday is for a small portion of parliament seats, but has taken on immense symbolic importance because it will likely see pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi win her first term in office.
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Burma’s government says exile media groups can start applying to base operations in the country.

Burma’s exile media groups can begin applying to establish their operations within the country as the government prepares a new media law lifting most restrictions, the country’s censorship chief said Wednesday. (more…)

Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann, speaking to the Mandalay City Development Committee this week, said changing “mindsets” is a first step in creating positive laws that will aid the people.
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About 800 undocumented Burmese migrants in China’s Yunnan province have been arrested this month in what locals claim is the largest crackdown on the population by the police.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, Burmese resident in Ruili and Jiegao townships said the crackdown started during the middle of March following the murder of a Chinese police officer and a local woman who runs a money exchange operation. (more…)

A leading member of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has refuted allegations that the ethnic militia contacted a Chinese hydropower investor for kickbacks.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, KIA Vice Chief of Staff Gen. S. Gun Maw denied that any letter had been sent to China Power Investment Corp (CPI) requesting profit-sharing on the Myitsone Dam construction project. (more…)

A man in Irrawaddy Division’s Maubin township who petitioned President Thein Sein last year has been sentenced to one year in prison.

Than Aye was seeking to allow local peasants to fish in waters leased by a businessman. He was sentenced after being charged with possessing a modified slingshot, which are capable of firing bicycle spokes and sharp objects.
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Myanmar’s move to a managed float of the kyat may weaken the grip of the black market, where appreciation has been hurting exporters.

“The dollar has seen some weakening pressure against the kyat and that is quite a big pain for exporters,” Toshihiro Mizutani, managing director of the Japan External Trade Organization in Yangon, said in an interview on March 28. “If they can manage to keep it from rising fast it would help.” (more…)

HSIPAW, Myanmar — As Chinese workers in hard hats and red overalls bulldoze deep trenches into the orange soil across northern Myanmar for gas and oil pipelines to China, China’s largest energy conglomerate is paying cash for land and trees in the pipelines’ path, and building schools and health clinics for some of the poorest people on earth. (more…)

Phnom Penh- Fair elections in Myanmar this weekend will be a major step toward the lifting of European Union sanctions but the bloc will not be rushed by big business into lifting the full range of trade restrictions, its trade commissioner said on Friday.

Whether trade curbs are lifted or not will depend heavily on an international report on forced labor in Myanmar, Karel de Gucht told Reuters in an interview. (more…)

Brussels – Pressure is building in the European Union to end sanctions against Myanmar in the coming weeks, a move to reward the country for its shift towards democracy while allowing European companies to gain a foothold before their U.S. counterparts.

No formal decision on softening or removing sanctions is expected until April 23, when EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss the issue.
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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said on Friday, “This is a crucial moment in Myanmar’s history.”

Recalling his latest report to the Human Rights Council, Quintana said: “I have consistently stressed that the next round of elections should be truly free, fair, inclusive and transparent, but the credibility of Sunday’s vote will not be determined solely on the day, but in the lead-up to and following election day.”
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Bangkok – Although only 45 parliamentary seats are up for grabs, Myanmar’s political future hinges on by-elections scheduled for April 1. Unlike the tightly orchestrated 2010 polls, the country’s first national elections in 20 years won overwhelmingly by military-backed candidates, the polls will be contested by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and its charismatic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and monitored by international observers.
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On April 1, citizens of Burma will head to the polls to vote in a parliamentary by-election. Normally, this isn’t the sort of thing that would attract a lot of headlines, since only a small number of seats in the National Assembly are actually at stake.
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Aung San Suu Kyi, the long-time standard-bearer for democracy in Myanmar, is taking a leap of faith in running for parliament on Sunday, opting to enter a political system crafted and run by the soldiers who kept her locked up for a total of 15 years.
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Chiang Mai– The ruling this week that the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) was formed without Parliament’s approval will have no effect on the operations of the agency, commission officials said on Wednesday.
The agency will continue to operate and redress the problem of its formation when Parliament reconvenes, according to a statement issued by the commission. (more…)

Mae Sot – Human rights groups say hundreds of Burmese political prisoners remain incarcerated, despite an amnesty in January, when about 600 of the most prominent activists were released. (more…)

There are around 10,000 registered voters error in the voter lists of Mon State’s Moulmein constituency, according to Nai Ong Chan, the chief campaign officer of All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMDP). (more…)

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