Friday, August 7th, 2015


More than 150 Chinese workers sentenced to life in prison for illegal logging were freed in Myanmar on Thursday under a massive presidential pardon that included nearly 7,000 prisoners.
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Days after a court in Myanmar sentenced more than 150 Chinese citizens to life in prison for illegal logging, resulting in objections from Beijing, the national government said on Thursday that they would be freed as part of a broader amnesty.
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Former major Kyaw Swar Win, who signed a petition for the amendment of section 436, is among 6966 prisoners released in an amnesty according to U Tun Kyi, member of the Former Political Prisoners (FPPs) organisation. (more…)

UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie Pitt visited Jam Mai Kaung camp in Kachin State capital Myitkyina on Thursday, after plans to visit internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sittwe were scuttled due to a cyclone warning.
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Effects of Cyclone Komen are beginning to unfold as reports emerge of severe flooding and heavy winds in western Burma’s Arakan State. (more…)

Heavy rains have flooded more than 50,000 acres of farmland in Irrawaddy Division, according to state media, including over 10,000 acres in the districts of Hinthada and Pathein, where the floods have forced 62 schools to close this week. (more…)

The Burmese actor and director Min Oak Soe was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for the brutal December murder of his former employee, Nu Nu Yin. (more…)

A letter marked “secret” and purporting to carry 1740 signatures, together with names and ranks, is reported to have been sent to the Union Election Commission with the aim of dismissing the Speaker. The petitioners accuse him of breaking laws during his failed attempt in June to pass constitutional changes that would have broken the military’s grip on political power.
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After years of dialogue, deal-making and a proliferation of acronyms touted as indication of varying degrees of political cooperation and fealty, Burma’s three largest political party alliances look set to enter the Nov. 8 election without any firm commitment to avoid infighting.
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The infrastructure to facilitate card payment transactions is essential if Myanmar’s economy is to evolve beyond a system dominated by cash, said banking officials at the Myanmar Banking and Finance Conference in Yangon on 28 July.
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Though more than 60,000 acres of monsoon paddy may have been destroyed by recent flooding, not all is lost, said U Ye Min Aung, general secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation.
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Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said he had a “fruitful” meeting with Burma’s military chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing on Thursday. (more…)

Thailand will sign a US$1.7 billion deal to develop the first phase of the long-delayed Dawei Industrial Zone in southeastern Myanmar next week, Thailand’s secretary-general of the state planning agency said on Wednesday according to a report by Reuters on 29 July.
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The watchtowers and the high-security fence on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh make this frontier look impregnable. Yet thousands of Rohingyas cross into Bangladesh each year. Rohingyas are a Muslim group whose persecution in their mainly Buddhist home state of Rakhine in Myanmar is long-standing but has recently escalated. The Myanmar government does not recognise Rohingyas, many of whose ancestors originally hailed from Bengal during British colonial days, as one of the country’s many official ethnic minorities. Denied nationality since 1982, they are in effect stateless. (more…)

Burma’s pardon on Thursday of 6,966 prisoners, 210 of whom were foreign nationals, sent a confounding message to those who follow the country closely. Announced on the eve of the Warso Full Moon holiday, the government said the amnesty was partly intended to bring prisoners back into the political fold, while the foreigners were released “for the sake of friendship and cordial relations” with other countries.
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Flooding across Burma continues to take an economic and human toll, causing untold damage to crops and infrastructure and at least 20 fatalities, according to statistics as of Monday from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, even has heavy rains are predicted to continue this week.
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Human rights lawyer Robert San Aung on Tuesday launched what could become a landmark case against two police officers involved in a brutal crackdown on student demonstrators earlier this year.
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Social worker and activist Kyaw Thu, known primarily as the founder of Burma’s Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), will travel to the Philippines next month to accept a Ramon Magsaysay Award for his public service. (more…)

Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie arrived in Naypyidaw on Wednesday morning in her capacity as a special UN envoy for refugee issues, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs source.
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The Myanmar Government will begin a survey of its citizens in Thailand in order to issue national citizenship scrutiny cards to migrant workers with temporary Thai residency, the Labour, Employment, and Social Security Ministry said Tuesday according to a report in the Global New Light of Myanmar on 29 July.
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