Monday, September 12th, 2016


More than 3,000 villagers in Karen State have fled escalating conflict between a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and a joint force of the Burma Army and its allied Border Guard Force (BGF).

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A half-day meeting in Chiang Mai attended by the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Ta’ang National Party (TNP) in a bid to resolve an almost year-long conflict over territory in northern Shan State has yielded positive results, the organizations’ spokespeople said on Monday.

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Gunfire erupted on Thursday, 8 September, in the vicinity of Tae Chaung Village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserism Division, between Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) after more than 27 years of ceasefire.

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Buddhist nationalist protesters in Rangoon on Sunday launched racial slurs at former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and scuffled with local residents who were simply playing football nearby.

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Overflowing waterways created havoc in much of the country in recent weeks and although the flooding was not as serious as last year, Myanmar NGOs were quick to respond, supplementing government relief efforts by distributing emergency humanitarian aid.

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International lawyers have welcomed Myanmar’s new investment law, saying it will create a better investment environment for both local and foreign investors once enforced.

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“Every man has a crazy hobby,” said U Thiri Thein Than, an automotive engineer from Yangon who also has a home in Tokyo. “For me, it’s cars and watches.”

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Myanmar authorities will allow resumption of timber production under limit in the next fiscal year of 2017-18 despite suspension of logging during the current fiscal year of 2016-17, official media reported Monday.

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Indonesia has entered an agreement with Myanmar to buy 300,000 tons of rice from the latter, more than half the amount of 500,000 tons that Myanmar reserves for export, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation Monday.

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The majority of participants in a conference on the future of US-Burma relations being held in Washington on the eve of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrival in the United States are supporters of Burma’s previous quasi-civilian government and military cooperation with the States. They are lobbying for the lifting of US sanctions on Burma.

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The Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s central committee, Mr Song Tao, had a busy round of meetings during a five-day goodwill visit to Myanmar that began on August 10.

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Myanmar’s new government is making its international debut. In mid-August 2016, Beijing welcomed Aung San Suu Kyi on her first visit to China since becoming Myanmar’s state counselor and foreign minister. This followed her trips to Myanmar’s ASEAN neighbors Laos and Thailand and preceded President U Htin Kyaw’s landmark visit to India. On Sept. 14-15, Suu Kyi will travel to Washington, DC. Myanmar’s busy diplomatic calendar carries special significance after the landslide electoral victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in November 2015, following political reforms that dismantled Myanmar’s decades-long military rule.

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It is time for the United States to stop agonizing about economic sanctions against Burma. However, the answer is not simply to remove all sanctions, but to keep targeted sanctions in place while providing a constructive pathway forward to later eliminate those remaining as Burma continues its process of democratic reform.

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China is a big fan of dams. Indeed, over the last 50 years, the country has constructed more dams than all other countries combined. But there is one dam that China never managed to get built: the Myitsone Dam in Myanmar. And Chinese leaders can’t seem to let it go.

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The Irrawaddy asks Swedish journalist, author and Burma expert Bertil Lintner about the changing US-Burma relationship, as Burma’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits the US this week.

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