Inside Burma


After a flurry of diplomatic activity, the government of Myanmar said on Thursday that it would send representatives to a regional meeting in Bangkok next week aimed at resolving the continuing humanitarian crisis of migrants stranded at sea in Southeast Asia and addressing the larger issue of human trafficking. (more…)

Myanmar was to engage in talks for the first time Thursday on the migrant exodus from its shores, with US and Southeast Asian envoys hoping to build on a breakthrough in an impasse which has left thousands stranded at sea. (more…)

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman will make a working visit to Myanmar on Thursday (May 21), to discuss the issue of irregular movement of people. (more…)

The United States has said it is deeply concerned about the legislative passage of the Health Care for Population Control Bill in Myanmar, paving the way for it to be enacted into law according to an official statement dated 19 May.
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A White House spokesperson has said that the US is willing to take a “leading role” in dealing with the crisis affecting Rohingya migrants in Southeast Asia.
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The European Union (EU) is to provide financial assistance to support a four-year project to develop peace building and reconstruct minor development programmes in conflict affected areas of Shan State starting this month. (more…)

On May 13 1939 the SS St Louis, a German ocean liner, set sail from Hamburg. On board were 915 Jewish refugees hoping to escape gathering oppression in Europe. There were dances and concerts aboard the luxury vessel and the indulgent captain permitted passengers to throw a tablecloth over an offending bust of Adolf Hitler. Two weeks later, the ship dropped anchor in Havana, pending what passengers, who had purchased Cuban visas, fully expected to be a warm reception. It was not to be. The Cuban authorities turned them away as, subsequently, did those of the US and Canada. The St Louis was obliged to return to Europe. An estimated quarter of its passengers ended up perishing in Nazi concentration camps.
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The one-day summit scheduled for 29 May in Bangkok on the Rohingya refugee crisis poses many challenges for the region.
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The Burmese government is likely to attend a regional summit to address human trafficking, according to a report by the Associated Press, though a presidential spokesperson warned that Burma could still decide to boycott the meeting if it references Rohingya. (more…)

Fighting between the Burma Army and three ethnic armed groups will be at the top of the agenda when a conference of ethnic leaders convenes in rebel-controlled territory of Karen State early next month.
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Burma says it shares the concerns of the international community about the plight of so-called ‘boat people’ in the Andaman Sea, and “stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance to anyone who suffered in the sea”. (more…)

Closing arguments were heard on Tuesday in the trial of writer Htin Linn Oo, who stands accused of blasphemy charges for criticising the nationalist policies of the Buddhist monk-led group Ma-Ba-Tha, officially known as the Association for Protection of Race and Religion. (more…)

Clashes between the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Burmese army troops took place in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township on Monday.
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A Buddhist monk is among six men to have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the killing of a Buddhist abbot in Karen State last year. They were handed the sentences on 18 May by a tribunal formed by representatives of several Karen armed groups. (more…)

Scores of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims are paying off people smugglers and returning to the squalid camps they used to live in after being held for months on overcrowded ships that were to take them to Thailand but did not move far from shore.
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The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) will help the Burmese government issue over 5,000 Burmese National Identification Cards (ID) to migrant Shan workers in Thailand at Homong Township in Lingkhe District, Southern Shan State.
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The MOFA stated that Myanmar shares the concerns of the international community over the refugees drifting at sea and will keep a close watch over the issue as it develops.
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A Union Parliament lawmaker from Kachin State has called for an urgent overhaul of mining in Hpakant, home to the world’s most lucrative sources of jade, over local concerns about the environmental impact of the industry. (more…)

Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups are to meet next week in Chiang Mai to consider the government’s offer of a “nationwide” ceasefire pact that would exclude three factions fighting in the Kokang region but with a promise of bilateral talks once they halt military operations.
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The Army Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, has blamed the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) for shells landing inside China according to reports instate media on 19 May.
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