Thursday, August 18th, 2016


Three ethnic armed groups issued a joint statement on Thursday announcing their readiness to join the Union Peace Conference, scheduled to begin on August 31 in Naypyidaw.

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Burned and buried, the bodies of three villagers from Shan State’s Namtu Township who had gone missing in a forest in early August were recently recovered.

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Thirty-one Muslims who applied as “Bengali” have been recommended for citizenship by a verification committee in Buthidaung Township of northern Arakan State, the head of the immigration department for Maungdaw District Than Shwe told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

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The announcement that hundreds of people accused of “political” crimes would no longer face prosecution has raised hopes that political prisoners still behind bars could be freed before the peace process gets under way at the end of this month. Activists have called for the release of about 83 prisoners and the abandonment of prosecutions directed at a further 142 people who face what they call political charges.

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Eight seats have been reserved for non-signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement on the joint preparatory committee for the upcoming 21st-century Panglong Conference, sources involved in the planning said yesterday after a meeting of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee.

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Activists are prepared to resume protests against the Myitsone mega-dam development in Kachin State, amid concerns that Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to China could result in the revival of the suspended project.

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Nearly 30 Shan civil society organisations (CSOs) sent an open letter to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday urging her to suspend six dam projects along the Salween River.

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The government is to open new checkpoints along twelve known smuggling routes from border areas, after the disbandment of multi-departmental mobile task forces in December was blamed for an increase in overland smuggling.

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Myanmar’s new government has taken measures to enhance trade by lifting some restrictions since it took office in April.

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The Chindwin River in Upper Burma is contaminated with a significantly high level of heavy metals, making its water unsafe to drink, according to government officials.

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China and Myanmar are set to sign deals to build a strategic bridge near their border and two hospitals in the Southeast Asian country, a Myanmar official said on Thursday, as leader Aung San Suu Kyi meets high-level officials in Beijing.

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The Chinese charm offensive in the new era of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Decmocracy (NLD) government has visibly been in full swing lately.

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Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD government faced a tough situation with China at the time of their inauguration in March. But, as she visits Beijing this week, hopes are high again in China that a redirection of Myanmar’s foreign policy could be underway and the pendulum of Myanmar’s balancing diplomacy is swinging back to the east. But many challenges lie ahead. These include resolution of the Myitsone dam impasse, repositioning political relations between the two countries, and peaceful settlement of ethnic conflicts in the Myanmar borderlands. The stakes are very high. The outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi’s meetings could well come to define Myanmar-China relations for many years to come.

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UK-based author Joe Studwell made a list of recommended reads by Bill Gates with his influential book “How Asia Works,” an analysis of success and failure in Asian economies.

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