August 2013


An Arakan State court reportedly sentenced 76 Rohingya Muslims to lengthy prison terms last week for their alleged roles in an outburst of deadly inter-communal violence in Maungdaw Township in June last year, according to a human rights group and a local media report. At least seven were sentenced to life imprisonment.
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The Burmese military, notorious over the past five decades for its use of child soldiers, erected an eye-catching billboard in downtown Rangoon this week indicating a desire to clean up its image—and perhaps its practices.
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The police are continuing to arrest suspects after a Buddhist mob set fire to dozens of Muslim-owned homes and businesses in northwest Burma’s Sagaing Division last weekend in the latest communal violence to hit the country.
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Activists who protested in Rangoon yesterday calling for the abolishment of the controversial article-18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law have been charged under the article for protesting without approval from the authorities.
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The Myanmar People’s Forum have announced that civil societies from other ASEAN countries have agreed upon the agenda of the ASEAN People’s Forum meeting.
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The Speaker has sent a formal letter to the President on August 29 demanding immediate return of seized land that are no longer needed or used by the government.
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The Upper House Parliament has approved the controversial Human Rights Commission Bill on August 28.
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Financial backing from the private sector is needed to link Burma’s proposed new international airport at Hanthawaddy with Rangoon, the country’ biggest city, government officials said.
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Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy, is expected to make a visit to Singapore in September, according to the latest program of the Singapore Summit, an event organized by Singapore’s government agencies.
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Buddhists are killing Muslims in Myanmar with impunity because the government failed to stop the attacks, New York-based Physicians for Human Rights reported amid fresh assaults that left more Muslims homeless.
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The U.S. State Department said it was sending a law enforcement envoy to Myanmar to review national security and human rights issues with national leaders. (more…)

Burma’s democratic reforms have led to the lifting of sanctions and an explosion in tourism, so it’s no surprise to see a flood of new books about this alluring destination.
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The conflict between the Burma government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has transformed into battles between their respective militias. These recent changes became evident soon after the inking of a seven-point agreement in late May. The agreement during the last peace talks between the Union Level Peace Making Committee and KIO leaders in Myitkyina, which led to the formation of a Kachin technical team to oversee these measures, was supposed to reduce the military maneuvers of both sides. But clashes have been ongoing since the signing. This is leading analysts to speculate if the fighting has slowed down at all or if the conflict is simply going underground.
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A court in Monywa, Sagaing Division, on Thursday sentenced activist Naw Ohn Hla to two years in prison with hard labor for disturbing public tranquility at a peaceful protest that police broke up with force earlier this month.
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A nationwide ceasefire is among topics to be discussed during a meeting between the Burmese government and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in early September, members of the council say.
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The Union Election Commission (UEC) sent out warning letters to all political parties on August 23 stating that the Commission will de-register any party that accepts assistance in cash or kind from foreign countries.
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The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Defense announced in the Parliament on August 28 that veterans who sustained permanent disabilities while serving in the military receive only MMK 30000 (USD 31) per annum as support.
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The UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Burma Vijay Nambiar is visiting the Kachin rebel headquarters of Laiza at the Sino-Burmese border on Wednesday with the approval of the Burmese government.
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Tailor-made business grants enable IDPs in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to get back on their feet and resume livelihood activities. DRC’s recently launched livelihood programme will provide support to both Buddhist and Muslim communities affected by last year’s sectarian violence.
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This year’s Karen wrist tying ceremony came with added significance. A two-year ceasefire still holding, Karen armed groups, once sworn enemies promising to be united and villagers able to travel freely in their homeland.
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