May 2014


A new anti-hate speech campaign is gaining momentum in Mandalay, where about 25 volunteers handed out pamphlets. The Pan Sagar (flower speech) campaign encourages people to refrain from hate speech and more carefully consider the consequences of their actions.
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Sai Jan, a regional chairman for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), has been freed from Kengtung prison after being held for almost a month.
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Burmese women are raising concerns about a proposed interfaith marriage law during a major conference in Thailand that brings together about 300 feminists from across the Asia-Pacific region.
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Myanmar’s government has begun unveiling drafts of proposed laws that critics say are motivated by religious hatred, and could take discrimination against the country’s marginalized Muslim minority to new heights.
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Burma’s minister of agriculture and irrigation told ministry staff members to stay away from politics just one day before the country’s biggest opposition party launched a signature campaign for constitutional amendments.
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The Burmese government is planning to establish a Ministry for Youth Affairs, according to President’s Office Minister Soe Thein.
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A Burmese border guard police officer has confirmed that a member of the Border Guard Bangladesh was killed by his unit on Wednesday when a clash broke out between the two sides amid rising tensions along the border, with the government in Dhaka calling for an investigation into the incident.
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Myanmar will grant foreign banks limited operating licences by the third quarter of this year, in a bid by the country’s semi-civilian government to attract foreign investment into an economy just emerging from decades of military rule.
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The US Campaign for Burma has criticized the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s decision to invest about US$170 million in the private sector development of upscale hotels and real estate in Burma, and said the projects would do little to alleviate poverty in the country.
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Following an outcry over the revelation that the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is paying a steep rental fee to a former military official, other international organizations operating in Burma are facing calls to be transparent about their rental arrangements in Rangoon.
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The world is currently witnessing the fastest-growing commercial pressure on land in history. The past decade has seen at least 49 million hectares of land in developing countries leased out by global investors, often under the guise of ‘national development’.
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A two-year education project for disabled children, promoting inclusive education, will begin in Burma’s Irrawaddy and Rangoon divisions next month, an organizer said.
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Politicians and activists in Rangoon have expressed mixed reactions after President Barack Obama claimed reform in Burma, also known as Myanmar, as a success for U.S. foreign policy.
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In March, Ross Dunkley — the blustering, chain-smoking, Australian expat who heads the Myanmar Times — issued an internal memo, ordering his staff not to publish articles related to politically sensitive topics without his prior approval. At the top of that list: the ongoing oppression of the Rohingya ethnic group in the north, and rising tensions between Buddhists and Muslims throughout the country.
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The recent coup in Southeast Asia’s second largest economy has ramifications beyond Thailand. The political unraveling is not happening in a vacuum, and its evolution and global reactions to it could present an unfortunate model for emerging democracies in the region, particularly Myanmar. All Myanmar players–the government, political opposition, civil society, and the military–almost certainly are watching the events unfolding in Thailand closely, potentially seeing their future, or hopefully, the opposite of it. The next few years will be a critical test for Myanmar’s political development to determine whether the country is progressing toward a representative democracy or susceptible to backsliding similar to the situation in Thailand.
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“Burma’s government is stoking communal tensions by considering a draft law that will politicize religion and permit government intrusion on decisions of faith. Following more than two years of anti-Muslim violence, this law would put Muslims and other religious minorities in an even more precarious situation.”
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In this week’s Dateline Irrawaddy show—first aired on DVB on Wednesday—panelists discussed the public outcry over the high price paid by the United Nations’ Children’s Fund’s  to former member of Burma’s junta for the rental of its office in Rangoon.
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The United Nations children’s agency said “spiralling” Myanmar rents had put humanitarian budgets under pressure on Thursday as it confirmed it pays nearly $90,000 a month for its Yangon office.
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Peace negotiators of Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups worked out their second draft of the nationwide ceasefire agreement here Friday, said a joint press release following the end of their three-day peace talks.
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Burma’s netizens went wild on Tuesday after Vice-President Nyan Tun was quoted in local media remarking that 2,000 kyat (US$2) per day was a liveable wage. The president’s spokesperson, Ye Htut, quickly tried to fix the situation, suggesting that Nyan Tun’s words were “misinterpreted”.
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