Ethnic Issues


The Burmese government and ethnic leaders say they will hold another round of peace talks early next month to hammer out final disagreements before setting a date for the nationwide ceasefire accord.
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One civilian was shot dead and another hospitalized with a gunshot wound following a clash between government troops and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) on Monday morning in northern Shan State, according to the ethnic rebel group.
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In a move that a local politician has said was the first of its kind in Kachin State, the Burmese Army apologised to villagers displaced by recent clashes in Hpakant Township between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
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In an exclusive interview with Karen News, Ms Charm Tong, a founder of the Shan Women’s Action Network, expressed grave concerns over ongoing Burma Army offensives in Shan State in areas of supposed ceasefire, and criticised the international community for not applying more pressure on the government to stop its offensives.
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The Chin State government has allotted 5,200 lakh kyat from the 2014-2015 budget to remote villages in Thantlang Township under a rural development scheme in Chin state. 73% of people live below the poverty line in Chin state, which is said to be Burma’s poorest region.
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Myanmar’s downtrodden Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship, targeted in deadly sectarian violence and corralled into dirty camps without aid. To heap on the indignity, Myanmar’s government is pressuring foreign officials not to speak the group’s name, and the tactic appears to be working.
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The Karen National Union’s, secretary 1, Padoh Saw Thaw Thi Bweh told Karen News that unless the situation in Burma guarantees refugees safety, their dignity and is conducted according to international humanitarian guidelines any return at the moment is not appropriate.
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There is not a conversation or discussion on the Myanmar peace process that does not include two words: “trust” and “distrust”. As far as the peace process is concerned, no matter who speaks on any given occasion, the two words are either mentioned in passing or featured prominently.
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About 200 Kachin civilians in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township have been newly displaced by clashes between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in recent days, according to local leaders and Kachin rebel sources, who said that the fighting erupted after government forces entered a rebel-controlled ruby mining area.
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Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) said it discussed the issue of federalism with the ethnic armed group alliance Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) when they met in Chiang Mai this week.
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A curfew imposed on Sittway and Kyaukphyu townships in Rakhine State in October 2012 has been extended for another two months, residents told Mizzima on August 11.
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Some 200 members of the ethnic Karen community in Rangoon held a ceremony in Kamayut Township on Tuesday to mark the 64th Karen Martyrs’ Day. It was the first time since the start of the political reform process in 2011 that the event was held in public in Rangoon.
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Generally, a trip to this border town is not easy. Though Laiza is situated in Kachin State, visitors are not normally able to get here directly as the road is blocked by the Burmese military thanks to recent fighting with the rebel Kachin Independent Army, which calls the town its headquarters. Instead, travelers must take a roundabout trip to the Chinese side before crossing over and entering Laiza from Burma’s northern neighbor.
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The peace process undertaken by Burma’s government and the country’s ethnic armed groups could take several generations to complete, according to an analyst watching the negotiations closely.
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Several political parties in Myanmar said Tuesday that the government appeared to be rushing to conclude a nationwide cease-fire agreement with armed ethnic groups without enabling them to adequately address the key concerns of the groups.
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The timing was conspiciously reminiscent of old junta tactics. Two days before newly appointed UN special human rights rapporteur Ms Yanghee Lee wrapped up her first visit to Myanmar with a highly publicised news conference at Yangon International Airport on July 26, the government extended its hand to Medecins Sans Frontieres.
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A nighttime curfew in Mandalay will be lifted starting Monday as stability has returned more than five weeks after inter-communal violence raged in the city, a senior local official said.
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A coalition of Shan community-based-organizations has urged the United States to pressure Burma government to stop its military offensives in Shan State.
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A United Wa State Party (UWSP) spokesman has denied that the ethnic rebel army in northern Burma continues to be involved in drug trade, saying their autonomous region is “drug-free.”
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Japanese government officials and donor organizations met with government advisors, Karen State officials and Karen rebel commanders to discuss the possible implementation of Japanese-funded development projects in rebel-controlled areas during the peace process, a government advisor has said.
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