Inside Burma


President Thein Sein’s government is reintroducing the post of permanent secretary, bringing back the old position for the highest civil servant in a ministry, a ruling party parliamentarian said.
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Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has begun zeroing in on candidates in the lead-up to landmark elections later this year.
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The results for this year’s basic education exams have seen the pass rate drop in grades 5 and 9, which were designated as government-controlled exams by the No.3 Basic Education Department (BED).
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One year to the day since Burma lost one of its leading intellectual figures, Win Tin, The Irrawaddy looks back on his enduring legacy. A beloved democracy activist, journalist and former political prisoner, Win Tin lives on as an emblem of persistence and bravery for those seeking true democratic change in Burma.
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A dialogue involving six of Burma’s leading political players, considered by many to be crucial for Burma’s tenuous democratic transition, was held on April 10. The much-anticipated gathering yielded little in the way of political breakthroughs, however, with the parties agreeing to meet again next month.
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The Asian Human Rights Commission has documented that an increasing number of peaceful protesters are being arrested and jailed under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act. Citing the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the country, and ensuring the upcoming 2015 election remain peaceful, authorities, especially Administrative Officers, have filed cases against numerous peaceful protesters under this Act. (more…)

Fighting flared in the ethnic minority strongholds of northern Shan, Kachin and Arakan states last week even as most of Burma was busy celebrating the Buddhist New Year, casting further doubt on the ability of the government and ethnic armed groups in Burma to achieve a meaningful end to decades of hostilities.
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Police said a total of 16 people died and 356 others were injured because of traffic accidents and crimes during last week’s Thingyan celebrations, which saw millions of people across the country welcome in the Burmese New Year with street parties, ceremonies and water-throwing.
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A nationwide referendum on amending Burma’s controversial Constitution is unlikely to take place in May as a senior parliamentary leader has previously suggested, according to an ethnic politician involved in high-level talks on the matter.
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Ethnic rebel leaders said the United Wa State Army (UWSA) will host a meeting between ethnic armed groups involved in the drafting of the preliminary nationwide ceasefire accord and several ethnic groups that have not directly participated in the process.
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As Lashio town became a refuge for thousands of people fleeing fighting between the government and Kokang rebels around Laukkai on the Chinese border in February and March, religious and community leaders rallied to provide aid and shelter in monasteries, schools and other buildings.
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Burmese government forces clashed with the rebel Arakan Army (AA) on 17 and 18 April in the western Burmese district of Kyauktaw, both sides have confirmed.
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The recent turmoil in Myanmar’s Kokang province on its northeastern border with China, while minor in scale compared to past ethnic conflict in the country, nonetheless has ominous implications for prospects of achieving a national peace agreement in the near future and for Myanmar’s relations with China. (more…)

NEPP encourages farmers, workers to apply for candidacy

In an effort to level the playing field for farmers and workers who wish to stand as electoral candidates, the New Era People’s Party (NEPP) has announced it is considering lowering its minimum education requirements for its election candidates.
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Sixteen Myanmar soldiers died in a major offensive to flush rebels from a strategic hill-top in the northeastern region bordering China, state media said April 16, as fighting with ethnic insurgents nears its tenth week.
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The Dr. Saw Mya Aung Foundation announced that it will provide 50 amputees in Burma with prosthetic hands that have the ability to seize and hold objects. (more…)

As of January 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) Malaysia has registered 151,770 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, with the majority coming from Myanmar.
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People in Burma have flocked onto the streets of Rangoon throughout this week, dancing and spraying water on one another to celebrate Thingyan festival and the ushering in of a traditional new year. (more…)

Reports of ferocious fighting in Burma’s restive Kokang region this week have put the government death toll at 21. (more…)

The Burmese civil society is “divided” over the issue of citizenship for Rohingya refugees mostly lodged in Bangladesh, a Myanmar political analyst has said in a Dhaka conference.
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