February 2016


On a freshly scarred battlefield, a diehard rebel army is facing off at gunfire range against a military that for decades has imposed iron-fisted rule over this Southeast Asian nation. Overhead, vultures circle the mountainous terrain while insurgent soldiers crouch near deep foxholes, prepared, they say, to throw back another possible assault.
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Residents of three villages in the Hpakant jade mining region in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state have temporarily agreed to end a three-day protest that began Saturday against mining companies whose trucks transport and dump mountains of waste from worksites in the area, a local political leader said.
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Participants at a land rights seminar in Mon State urged the incoming National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government to address past practices of land confiscation with a special court dedicated to the issue.
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Amid ongoing conflict and heightened ethnic tensions, thousands of displaced persons have converged on the northern Shan State town of Kyaukme to seek refuge after recent conflict between two ethnic armed groups.
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The Burmese army has launched assaults on Ta’ang rebel positions in Burma’s northeast in response to parliamentary calls for an intervention to end fighting between rebels that has displaced thousands.
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Ethnic armed organizations which did not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) held a 3-day workshop titled “Security, Defence and the Current Political Situation’ from February 14 to 16 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The workshop was attended by representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and the non-armed United Nationalities Alliance (UNA). In total over 40 delegates attended.
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The bodies of seven ethnic Shan villagers have been found in shallow graves, apparently executed with shots to the head, as accusations fly between warring ethnic armed groups over responsibility for their deaths amid fighting that has displaced several thousand civilians.
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A police officer who arrested U Gambira on suspicion of immigration offences told court yesterday that he detained the leader of the 2007 uprising following a verbal request from the immigration department, but was not shown any evidence to support allegations of illegal entry from Thailand.
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Aung San Suu Kyi met again with Myanmar’s powerful commander-in-chief on Wednesday, according to a Facebook post by his office, as talks over a protracted political transition drag on and amid reports that the military chief has secured a five-year extension.
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Ethnic media organizations discussed access to regional parliaments, future government funding and the protection of journalists at Burma News International’s (BNI) 4th Ethnic Media Conference this week in Arakan State.
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It has been 100 days after Myanmar’s general election on Nov. 8, 2015.

The new term of parliament, produced through the 2015 election, began its first session on Feb. 1, choosing two new speakers and two deputy speakers of the two Houses – the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the House of Nationalities (Upper House) – in the Union Parliament.
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Japan’s Nissan Motor Co said on Wednesday it would start assembling cars in Myanmar this year for the first time, as the Southeast Asian country opens up its economy.
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A new amendment has the potential to fundamentally alter the economics of mining in Myanmar and draw a new round of foreign companies to the country. But with commodity prices dropping firms are searching for the most favourable fiscal regimes, and the outlook for Myanmar rests heavily on regulations now being drawn up.
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New concessions to explore gem-rich areas in upper Myanmar will not be granted until by-laws to the Myanmar Gemstones Law have been passed, which is unlikely to happen under the outgoing government, officials from the Ministry of Mines said.
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Despite increases to the healthcare budget over the past three years, people still have to cover their own medical expenses, and rural healthcare centres still need upgrading, said Dr Than Win, the newly-elected chairman of the committee for health, sports and culture in Myanmar’s Upper House of parliament.
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Staff of the Ministry of Health, including professors and ‘black ribbon’ doctors have signed a petition calling for a complete halt to the long-term lease of a large plot owned by the ministry in front of the University of Nursing at the corner of Bogyoke Aung San and Pyay roads in downtown Yangon for a private hospital.
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The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) is urging Burma’s government to prepare rice reserves for a potentially extreme El Niño period in the months ahead.
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A group of vigilante anti-drug campaigners on a mission to destroy poppy fields in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township on Wednesday were blocked by authorities, according to members of the group.
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President Barack Obama and the leaders of Southeast Asia called Tuesday for peaceful resolution of the region’s maritime disputes as they concluded a summit in California.
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Thailand’s employment department has recommended that the government extend its current ‘pink card’ migrant worker programme by a further two years.
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