International


A U.N. human rights investigator said on Wednesday she expects Myanmar to guarantee her security, despite failing to censure a radical Buddhist monk who called her a “whore” and incited his followers against her.
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Christian Solidarity Worldwide says it is deeply concerned about the violations of freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression in Myanmar, amid growing religious intolerance, as illustrated by two current cases of “religious defamation,” according to a press release on March 17.
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The World Food Programme has welcomed the Myanmar’s adoption of the Zero Hunger Challenge and its aim of achieving Zero Hunger in Myanmar by 2025, according to a press release from the United Nations Development Programme and World Food Programme on March 13. (more…)

President Obama has based his foreign policy on the notion that it is better to “engage” than confront hostile nations and that such diplomacy should encourage gradual reforms, rather than revolution or regime change. The results of such outreach to Cuba and Iran are not yet in, but his administration continues to tout Burma as an example of how his strategy can work. There, a once-isolated military regime freed political prisoners and allowed its opposition to participate in a parliamentary election while being showered with U.S. economic and political concessions, including two visits by Mr. Obama. As recently as last month, the State Department’s top official for Asia, Daniel Russel, said Burma could be a model for North Korea: “Change in North Korea does not need to be regime change, as the example of Burma shows,” he said.
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The United Nations remains committed to helping Myanmar achieve its humanitarian and development needs in order to boost living standards for all its citizens, top UN officials have declared during their visit to the Asian country. (more…)

Burma has been identified as a country of concern by the United Kingdom for the 10th consecutive year as the UK foreign office prepares to increase direct aid to the country by more than 30 percent. (more…)

The government of Australia has pledged US$2.5 million in assistance to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the protection of children in Burma from sexual and physical violence, and human trafficking. (more…)

Burma Campaign UK is calling on the British government, European Union, USA and other donors to conduct a full review of all their direct and indirect assistance to the government of Myanmar, to ensure that international aid is not being used to modernise and improve the institutions of an authoritarian regime, instead of assisting a genuine transition to democracy.
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Two ethnic women from Myanmar testified at the Canadian Parliament on March 10, calling for Canadian pressure on the Myanmar government to end systematic human rights abuses, particularly sexual violence, by the Myanmar military, according to Inter Pares, a Canadian social justice organisation on March 11.
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Derek Mitchell, US ambassador to Myanmar, told the Myanmar Eleven at a press conference at the US Embassy in Yangon that America was keeping a close watch on efforts to change the 2008 Constitution. (more…)

As the first phase of an EU-funded program designed to professionalize Burma’s police comes to an end, its beneficiaries find themselves in the spotlight after three violent crackdowns on peaceful education reform protestors in less than a week. (more…)

The international community is “deeply concerned” by a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Letpadan, Pegu Division, on Tuesday that saw more than 100 demonstrators arrested and many injured by baton-wielding police. (more…)

The UK government has approved the sale of £16 million [K16 billion] of crowd-control and anti-riot equipment, including tear gas and rubber bullets, to countries including Myanmar who are on its own human-rights blacklist, reports The Independent in a story on March 9.
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The United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, has issued a report that paints a bleak picture of the rights situation in the country, following a ten-day trip earlier this year, noting severe and sometimes worsening restrictions on democracy.
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Twitter and Facebook generated some buzz during the last few days over speculation regarding former UK PM Tony Blair’s recent appearance in Nay Pyi Taw, according to the London-based Spectator magazine on March 6.
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The violent police crackdown on largely peaceful protesters in Myanmar amounts to unnecessary and excessive use of force and must end immediately, Amnesty International said.
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Several foreign embassies in Myanmar have voiced support for the upcoming general elections set for November and have been providing technical, training and donor support to the Union Election Commission, according to a joint press release on March 3.
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(Unofficial Translation)

Myanmar’s civil war started in 1960 when Ne Wen grabbed power, established a military government, denied ethnic groups the right of self-determination and began the Burmanization of the ethnic minorities. Since then, Myanmar has endured a civil war lasting more than 5 decades without any sign of ending. The Burman ethnic group makes up about 2/3 of the 60 million population in Myanmar, with a few large ethnic minority groups including the Shan, the Karen, the Kachin, the Mon and the Wa. There are 25 public ethnic armed groups and more than 10 low-profile ethnic armed groups in the country. In Shan State, there are more than 10 such groups constantly engaged in operations. Some of these groups were descendants of KMT soldiers or of BCP. However, the ones fighting most fiercely with the government military are not those with deep ties in China, but rather the KIA, who have historic U.S. connections and support.  The U.S. has played an non-negligible role in the war between the Tatmadaw and the KIA.
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A delegation of refugees from Thailand-Burma border is visiting the UK this week, for a lobbying trip focusing on the situation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) along the Thai-Burma border, and the need for more humanitarian assistance.
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The United Nations human rights chief warned Wednesday that widespread abuses of minority rights in Myanmar threatened to undermine reforms in the country.
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