Ethnic Issues


Burma’s upcoming elections may bring violence and other security challenges, warns a Belgium-based NGO.
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A total of 73 political parties are eligible to compete in the upcoming general election slated for the end of this year, with 14 more pending approval as the deadline for party registration passed on 30 April.
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The Union Election Commission announced that the shift to a proportional representation (PR) system for the election of Upper House lawmakers in the 2015 election will not materialise unless the resolution of the constitutional tribunal is received by the end of April, said Upper House MP Dr Myat Nyana Soe on April 29.
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China has again accused Myanmar’s armed forces of allowing their fight with the Kokang armed rebel group to spill over into Chinese territory.
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As long as the incentives to control natural resources remain, there is little hope for long-term peace in Myanmar.
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Recent statements by Malaysia’s Foreign Minister recognizing the regional significance of the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are a step in the right direction, but ASEAN leaders must take concrete action to address the growing crisis, said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) this week in a statement issued April 30.
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A Western diplomat said recently that there are two cancers eating away at Myanmar society – one is the ethnic war and the other is religion-based violence. When the disturbances began, I knew it was unconscionable to let it happen, and became part of the not-toolarge number of people addressing it. I have spoken out when others did not because I have long been disturbed by communal violence in Myanmar.
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Concern about the plight of villagers trapped in the combat zone in northern Rakhine State is deepening as volunteers reported yesterday that food is now running short in six villages of Kyauktaw township.
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Rakhine State immigration officers have collected more than 300,000 white cards in the past four weeks, state immigration department director U Khin Soe told The Myanmar Times yesterday.
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Villagers from Ka Htaung Li village in Dawei Township who protested against a gold mining operation that polluted their water sources alleged that they were harassed, punished and warned not to do it again by a Myanmar Army officer, reports Karen News on April 28.
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The upcoming ethnic armed groups’ meeting set for the Wa region, in the northeast, may have the potential to damage efforts made so far towards achieving a final nationwide ceasefire agreement, reports Channel News Asia on April 28.
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The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has announced that only eight selected media groups will be allowed to cover its scheduled meeting with 11 other ethnic armed groups at its headquarters in Panghsang at the beginning of May.
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With ongoing fighting between insurgents and government troops in Burma’s west, the Arakan National Party (ANP) has asked local Burma Army forces to respect legal restrictions on interrogations after a number of Arakan villagers were detained in the conflict. (more…)

A report from an influential international think-tank has raised concerns about Burma’s ability to hold credible elections late this year, while noting that developments over the last five years offer voters a chance at the most legitimate poll in a quarter century.
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Already a $2 billion industry, Southeast Asia’s deadly human smuggling trade stands to grow even larger under the enhanced transportation and increasingly porous borders of an integrated ASEAN, according to a new report by the UN.
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Despite reports of heavy fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army in Shan State on April 23, the government has not released any information about casualty numbers related to the clashes.
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Displaced civilians who have returned to the Kokang Special Region capital of Laukkai said living conditions in the battle-damaged town remain difficult as authorities have failed to provide them with food, shelter and basic amenities, while fighting continues not far from the town in northern Shan State.
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An exiled NGO alleges timber trucks have been destroyed by Myanmar military aircraft in an attempt to stifle the flow of money to the Kachin Independence Organisation.
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The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) sat with government representatives on Monday in Myitkyina to identify the catalyst for a series of recent clashes in Hpakant and Tanai townships in Kachin State.
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The Karen State-based Arakan State Army (ASA) says it wants to be included in the ongoing negotiations between the Burmese government and ethnic armed groups aimed at a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
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