Ethnic Issues


Outside government control and subject to the whims of numerous, often armed and competing actors, the enforcement of justice in ethnic areas is a tumultuous affair, according to a new report by the Asia Foundation.

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The United Wa State Army is seeking to allay fears that it has invaded the territory of its neighbouring ethnic armed group and ally.

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The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (Splinter DKBA), which splintered from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), will only reunify with the Karen National Union (KNU) after the two groups have held successful meetings.

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Leaders from the Karen National Union and the News Mon State Party agreed more effort is needed to prevent territorial disputes between the two groups. Both parties met on October 15, at an undisclosed location on the Thai-Burma border to discuss their concerns about territory.

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The Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS) chairman, U Aung Moe Zaw, urged the Commander-in-Chief of the Burma Army to declare a nationwide ceasefire and stop fighting in Kachin, Karen and Shan States.

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Which comes first: amending the constitution and laying out the details of the long-promised federal Union? Or surrendering arms in a truly nationwide ceasefire as a prelude to political negotiations?

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Independent media outlets covering the Shan State Hluttaw (parliament) in the state capital Taunggyi have been discriminated against and are being restricted in their coverage of the parliament.

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Amid fighting on the ground in Kachin and Shan states, the Burmese government’s peace negotiation body is planning to hold a national-level political dialogue with or without all ethnic armed organizations in November.

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Casualties were reported in fighting between a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and a joint force of the Burma Army and the allied Border Guard Force (BGF) on Wednesday in Kawkareik Township of Karen State.

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The Central Executive Committee of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of seven ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) that have not yet signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) met in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

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One can make a strong argument that the ongoing insurgent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has been in the making for some time now.

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October 15 marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement between U Thein Sein’s government and eight armed groups.

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Forty-nine Kachin locals have been detained by the Burma Army since Tuesday, when they were accused of attending a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) militia training.

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The ethnic armed alliance the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) will meet with government peace negotiators in Naypyidaw on Saturday, where demands for a cessation of Burma Army hostilities will be discussed.

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As we move towards the end of the year, civil war continues to rage across the country especially in Kachin State. Numerous negotiations have taken places but to date, no quantifiable results can be seen.

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Last week Myanmar media and Facebook were ablaze with reports of clashes between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), aka the Mong La group.

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Burma’s State Counselor and Foreign Affairs Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Wednesday that she would not accuse any individual or organization before obtaining evidence regarding the culprits of the recent violent attack in Arakan State.

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The Burmese government’s peace parley, dubbed “the 21st Century Panglong”, in Naypyidaw at the end of August was hardly over before the Tatmadaw went on the offensive again.

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

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Sectarian tensions have simmered for decades here on the country’s western frontier with Bangladesh, and they exploded with deadly violence in 2012 when mobs of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists drove minority Muslim Rohingyas from their homes. Four years later, about 120,000 people remain displaced and, with hostilities as high as ever, the government is struggling to help them return home.

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