Tuesday, October 18th, 2016


In the immediate aftermath of the October 9 attacks on security forces in northern Rakhine State’s Maungdaw township, rumours, accusations and outright propaganda quickly crowded out what little was actually known about the situation.

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Dr. Ma Thida has served as a dissident author, editor, publisher, physician, political aide and activist—often at the same time. It is well known that she spent nearly six years in prison in the 1990s for “distributing unlawful literature”—among other charges—as an active member of Burma’s student-led democracy movement in 1988. In prison, she suffered a myriad of health issues, including tuberculosis. Her release on humanitarian grounds was not in small part due to international pressure from organizations like PEN International, of which she is now a board member.

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Police have announced a crackdown on ferry operators in the wake of the loss of the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2, which went down in the Chindwin River on October 15 with the confirmed loss, so far, of dozens of passengers.

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The United Nationalities Alliance demanded an end to military offensives in Kachin, Shan and Kayin states’ ethnic areas at a summit held on October 15.

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In another instance of escalating clashes around the country, yesterday morning marked the fourth day of renewed hostilities between the Tatmadaw and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in northern Shan State.

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Rohingya advocacy groups worldwide are continuing to express serious concerns over what they claim is a continued military and police crackdown in western Myanmar, as authorities seek those responsible for the murder of nine police officers.

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The World Food Programme is to reinstate food aid to internally displaced persons in Rakhine State, who had been removed from rations lists earlier this year, after violence hit northern parts of the state last week.

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Fifteen workers from the Myanmar Veneer and Plywood Private Ltd (MVPPL), standing trial for scuffling with police at a protest in Naypyidaw five months ago, were indicted on a variety of charges on Monday.

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Myanmar authorities should release from prison and reverse all charges against interfaith activists Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt who have been held in detention since their respective arrests on July 14 and July 19, 2015, the Seagull and Civil Rights Defenders said in a statement today. An appeal was submitted to the Mandalay Division High Court on July 16, 2016 and a verdict is expected later this week.

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Burma’s government appears to be backing away from claims that attacks that took place in Arakan State earlier this month were carried out by a Islamist group with links to Pakistan.

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Directly contradicting the experience of many reporters, including those at The Myanmar Times, Minister for Information U Pe Myint announced yesterday that the media has not been restricted within the conflict areas in Rakhine State. Military officials, however, did acknowledge that they have made reporters delete photos that they have deemed a security risk.

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A senior military official yesterday defended security forces’ use of lethal force in Rakhine State, saying recent killings were an appropriate response in cases where they have encountered weapons-wielding hostiles.

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Looking north from Myint Win’s farm, across rice paddies and past bamboo huts, a massive new industrial development on the outskirts of Myanmar’s biggest city gleams in the distance.

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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China met in India yesterday, state media reported on 18 October.

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Ambassadors of majority-Muslim countries in the region have expressed support for the government’s response to recent violence in northern Rakhine State, acting foreigner minister U Kyaw Tint Swe said yesterday.

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Myanmar’s de factor leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is seeking to carefully balance relations with major powers as part of her commitment to revive the country’s tradition of employing a neutral foreign policy. Suu Kyi’s India visit this week follows trips to Beijing and Washington.

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