Inside Burma


Fierce fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burmese government forces in Mansi Township has forced hundreds of Kachin IDPs and villagers to seek sanctuary in Namhkam and at the Burma-China border. No casualties have yet been announced.
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For a long time, many in Myanmar have held two affiliations – what it says on their national registration cards and what it says in their hearts. They’re hoping the 2014 census can help change that.
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Police in Burma are implementing precautionary security measures and boosting the presence of law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of revelers participating in the country’s Buddhist New Year festivities, also known as Thingyan, which begins next week.
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At the time of writing, Burma’s first census in over 30 years is drawing to a close. It was meant to have been the latest in a series of milestones affirming the nation’s steady progress toward democracy and away from its bitterly troubled past. Instead, it has become a high-profile fiasco; one that has underlined the burning issues that still trouble the country and threaten to drag it backwards.
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Burma’s Ministry of Health issued a consumer warning to only buy drugs certified by government health authorities as cross-border contraband drugs continue to infiltrate the Burmese market.
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A four-day meeting between leaders of Burma’s ethnic armed groups and government peace negotiators concluded in Rangoon on Tuesday with the two sides announcing that they agreed “in principle” on a draft of a long-awaited nationwide ceasefire agreement. However, key parts of the wording of the elusive single draft agreement still had not been agreed upon.
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Families forced off their land by the Thilawa Special Economic Zone project in Rangoon Division are again urging the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to address their grievances, the fifth time in about six months that the relocated villagers have attempted to engage the Japanese governmental agency.
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A commission established by the Burmese government to investigate mob attacks on the premises of international nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations in Sittwe last month has criticized the Arakan State authorities for their weak handling of the incident.
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The United Wa State Party, which controls the country’s largest ethnic army, will soon decide whether to participate in nationwide ceasefire talks along with other armed ethnic groups, a spokesperson said.
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Over 300 people who fled Shan State’s Palaung Self-Administered Zone have been provided relief by sympathisers from Lashio.
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Myanmar activists opposed to hate speech took their campaign to upper Myanmar on April 8, with small groups gathering in several cities to warn against the use of language that can inflame religious and ethnic tensions.
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Two ethnic based organisations have been advocating for the release of 33 men and women who were forcefully recruited by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
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Myanmar vowed Wednesday to protect U.N. and humanitarian aid workers seeking to return to the strife-torn state of Rakhine after rampaging Buddhist mobs attacked the workers’ homes and offices.
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Three years after Myanmar’s first nominally civilian government in decades came to power, many of the country’s 135 minority ethnic groups say they have yet to see any tangible change on the ground.
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The chief of Burma’s national election commission has defended the involvement of the army in politics as necessary to prevent a military coup, while also pledging to ban campaign methods used by the main opposition party during the previous by-election.
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Speaker of the Myanmar Union Parliament and the Lower House, U Shwe Mann, accepted a special interview by Xinhua News Agency. He commented that Myanmar and China have maintained friendly ties and in the future, Myanmar will continue to maintain and develop this friendly and cooperative relationship.
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Clashes broke out between the Shan State Army South and the United Wa State Army over the weekend, with the fighting brought on by a dispute over Wa gold mining activities in southern Shan State’s Mong Pan Township.
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As Gen. Gun Maw, the deputy chief of staff for the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), meets this week with his Burmese counterparts in Rangoon as part of a joint meeting with the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), his subordinates stationed at Ban Du Kawng post near Mai Ja Yang, the KIO’s second-largest town, will keep a watchful eye on the Burma Army post on the next hilltop.
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Burma’s national census agency says that as of Sunday, 85 percent of the country’s estimated population had participated in the census, which ends on Thursday. However, critics have questioned the accuracy of the data, particularly concerning religion.
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The international community has again issued urgent pleas to the Burmese government to restore humanitarian access and ensure the protection of residents — foreign and local — in Arakan State, where critical health and supply services were largely terminated in late March.
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