Inside Burma


A coalition of three groups released a report on Monday highlighting the ailing health of 53 student demonstrators and supporters detained since March and urging their “immediate and unconditional” release.
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Phil Blackwood, a New Zealand bar manager convicted of insulting religion in a high-profile case last year, was quietly released from Insein Prison on January 22, the same day he was granted amnesty, according to two political prisoner groups. His Myanmar colleagues, the owner and co-manager of the bar, have not been freed and were not pardoned, the same groups said.
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Burma freed 101 political prisoners last week, bringing the number of political detainees released by President Thein Sein to more than 1,200 since his semi-civilian government took power in 2011, a watchdog group said on Monday.
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Police opened fire on suspects in Shwepyitha Township, Rangoon during a raid on the hideout of two high-profile criminals exposed by a viral social media post.
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Two Arakanese men, Hsan Win Tun and Kyaw Soe Moe, aka Arno, were arrested by Burma Army personnel in Sittwe Central Market on 22 January and taken to an unknown location, according to their families.
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Four youths have been arrested in Arakan State on suspicion of being involved in insurgent activities.
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Three newly elected Mon State Hluttaw (parliament) members met civil society organisation (CSOs) representatives on 21 January to improve collaboration between the Mon State government and CSOs.
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Following recent calls for their own state the Red Shan of northern Burma announced that they have formed an armed group called the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA) on social media last week.
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Participants at a world peace conference attended by President U Thein Sein slammed Myanmar for being “weak” on responding to religious conflict.
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“Most Burmese women can’t understand freedom,” says writer Pyo Let Han.

It is an arresting thought yet voiced without hesitation, just one idea in a long conversation. Pyo Let Han is discussing her decision to become a feminist writer – a rare job title in Burma.
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On January 22, the Myanmar government sent a contradictory message on its sentencing of political prisoners.

Naypyidaw released 52 political prisoners while on the same day sentencing Kachin activist Patrick Khum Jaa Lee to six months in jail for a Facebook post. The 52 political prisoners released from five prisons nationwide last week – including Myintkyina, Putaoo and Insein – were part of the 101 total prisoners released by the government.
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Fifty-two political prisoners were released from penitentiaries across Burma on Friday, while 78 remain and hundreds more are still facing trial on politically motivated charges, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which called on the government to release the outstanding prisoners of conscience.
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The chair of a local civil society organization and two others were detained in Arakan State’s Kyaukphyu Township on Thursday, according to eyewitnesses, who suggested the trio were accused of having links to the Arakan Army (AA).
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An alliance of women’s rights organizations called on Friday for greater inclusion of women in Burma’s peace process, citing social factors and a lack of will as causes of underrepresentation throughout the negotiations to date.
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A diverse crowd of religious figures from around the world convened in central Burma on Friday for the start of the World Buddhist Peace Conference, an ambitious event with the stated aim of bridging religious differences in Burma and abroad.
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The National League for Democracy (NLD) announced on Friday that party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi is the only person authorized to speak publicly about the party’s policy decisions.
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Civil society groups met with the Chin State government on Wednesday in the state capital Hakha to discuss ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by severe flooding last year.
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Conflict and tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma could be up for discussion at the World Buddhist Peace Conference in Sagaing Township, where the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy is hosting the three-day event beginning this Friday.
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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and David W Rivkin, President of the International Bar Association (IBA), last night opened the inaugural meetings of the Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar (ILAM), the first national, independent professional organisation of lawyers in Myanmar, the International Bar Association (IBA) said in a statement on 20 January.
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Rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday called for the immediate and unconditional release of former Buddhist monk U Gambira who was arrested in Mandalay on Tuesday evening on immigration charges.
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