Ethnic Issues


Malaysia and Indonesia have vowed to turn back any boats carrying migrants that enter their waters, as the UN calls for “a massive international search and rescue operation” in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca.
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Thousands of people, both Muslim Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis seeking jobs in Malaysia, have been abandoned at sea recently in Southeast Asia by smugglers fearing arrest as Thailand cracks down on human traffickers. At least 8,000 people are in peril, yet the Southeast Asian nations off whose shores they drift have been reluctant to save them.
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Which should come first: the nationwide ceasefire or political dialogue? This is not a chicken-and-egg question. We are having this debate because the politics of the 2015 elections are impacting the peace process.
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Several thousand civilians have returned to their villages in and near the Kokang region in recent weeks but a renewed offensive by government forces close to Myanmar’s border with China has prompted another exodus of refugees, the World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday.
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A court hearing into the death of a journalist while in military custody in October 2014 heard testimony from his widow yesterday, but was overshadowed by the revelation that the soldiers who shot him had already been acquitted by a military tribunal last year.
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Irrawaddy Division police officers have arrested 14 ethnic Rohingya alongside 12 other people suspected of bringing them from a relief camp in the Arakan State capital of Sittwe to Thabaung Township.
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Three Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) volunteers who were victims of ambushes on aid convoys in February in northeast Burma will receive the Presidential Award for Excellent Performance on Friday.
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A gold smuggling ring operating between Myanmar and India has been busted according to reports in the New Indian Express. The smugglers had been bringing in crude gold bars from Myanmar through the Moreh transit point by road and then flying from Imphal to either Kolkata or Delhi and then on to their fencing destination, Chennai – nearly 3212 kilometres away from the Burmese border. Apparently, the smugglers employed by the gang carried the contraband in their rectums for the length of the long journey.
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Non-Buddhist men may face two years in prison or a 1.5 million kyat (US$1,500) fine, or both, if found to have violated the controversial Buddhist Women’s Marriage Bill, which is currently awaiting a second approval in Burma’s upper house.
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An unusual book launch was held at the House of Media & Entertainment on Yangon’s Bo Aung Kyaw Street on April 25. The title of the book is Vibhajja Echo, and all of the contributors are monks.
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The joint chairman of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) has used a celebration on the Thai-Burmese border to make the case for a federal system of governance and the retention of ethnic armies, after ethnic leaders repeated their desire for constitutional amendments which would devolve power from Naypyidaw.
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A Karen activist has accused the chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU) of failing to act transparently in overseeing the ethnic armed group’s handling of Burma’s peace process.
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Aung Min, President’s Office minister and the government’s chief negotiator at peace talks, has said that the signing of a ceasefire deal will not include all ethnic groups, and that only those ethnic armies approved by Naypyidaw will be invited to join the peace process.
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The Burmese armed forces have deployed airstrikes against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in efforts to quell illegal logging in the northern region, according to military-owned Myawaddy TV.
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According to recent interviews by Shan Human Rights Foundation, Kokang refugees sheltering in China remain fearful of return, due to alleged “killings, beheadings and disappearance” of villagers caught returning home.
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Military Supreme Court has acquitted two soldiers unconditionally as the death of freelance reporter Aung Naing (a) Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Par Gyi broke out in their active service, according to Myanmar Human Rights Commission’s announcement released on May 8.
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The Mon National Party (MNP) and the All Mon Regions Democracy Party(AMDP) will give priority to youths and women to represent their parties in the 2015 general elections.
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Villagers who say they have suffered from environmental and economic chaos as a result of a newly built hydropower dam in Pegu Division’s Taungtaunggyi held a protest on Sunday, calling on the government to act.
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More than 1,000 refugees, including many women and children, came ashore in Malaysia early on Monday in what appears to be a sign of an accelerated exodus from western Myanmar and Bangladesh.
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Four boats carrying some 1,400 Rohingya migrants were rescued off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia on Monday, officials said, a day after nearly 600 others arrived in a wooden vessel off Indonesia’s Aceh.
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