International


In 1988 the military junta in Burma brutally cracked down on a wave of peaceful uprisings. From then on, the country was under the iron fist of a military dictatorship, which repressed all democratic opposition, violated human rights, and was pervasively corrupt. In reaction, the U.S. government imposed a strict embargo against Burma. After seeing signs of political reform, in 2011 the U.S. government slowly began lifting sanctions against Burma, including through constructing a “carrot and stick” regulatory framework. First, targeted sanctions were imposed against certain entities and individuals directly involved in human rights abuses. Second, a General License was issued to allow U.S. investments in Burma so long as investors complied with reporting requirements. Specifically, all businesses that invested over $500,000 had to submit reports to the Department of State detailing their human rights policies and risk management mechanisms.

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Myanmar government leader Aung San Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation from President Barack Obama to visit the United States, the government said on Thursday, in what would be her first trip to America since she won an election in November.

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The United States announced on Wednesday that it will provide an additional $21 million in development aid to help strengthen governance in Burma, as a newly elected civilian government settles into its daunting first term.

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There was a revealing moment at a recent gathering of newly elected lawmakers in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, when talk turned to their many training sessions with “international experts” and Western politicians on lofty subjects such as “building democracy” and being good legislators.

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Amnesty has called for urgent action to be taken to secure the release of 15 factory workers and student union members who are still detained in Myanmar and face a range of criminal charges for their peaceful protest to demand better working conditions. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released, according to a recent statement.

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The United Nation’s (UN) refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is conducting a “last call” resettlement initiative for Burmese refugees living in Thailand who wish to resettle in the United States.

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The European Parliament condemned Myanmar on Thursday for practices that discriminate against its minority Muslim community in western Rakhine State, home to around a million stateless Rohingya.

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The government is to defend a package of four controversial “protection of race and religion” laws at a key UN meeting on discrimination against women in Myanmar being held in Geneva tomorrow.

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Three NGO groups have spoken up in a UN forum on issues of discrimination and rights of women in Myanmar. The following is the oral statement by Amnesty International, the Women Peace Network-Arakan and The Arakan Project in light of the review of Myanmar’s fourth and fifth combined report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women:

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Ms Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, made a statement at the end of her 12-day visit to Myanmar on Friday. Here is her statement in full.

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Last week officials prevented the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, from visiting areas of Shan State where alleged human rights abuses have taken place, citing “security reasons”.

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The US government has revised its mandatory reporting requirements for investing in Burma, significantly reducing the number of firms that will have to comply with regulations aimed at promoting transparency and strengthening human rights in Burma.

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Myanmar will send seven athletes to compete in the upcoming Rio Olympic Games, U Kyi Soe Lin, assistant director of Ministry of Health and Sport, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

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Myanmar’s government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), should amend and abolish laws that threaten freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Wednesday.

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The European Union has requested an investment protection agreement with Myanmar which is being criticized by local NGOs in the country, according to a report on the ScandAsia website on 28 June. The report said that the agreement was intended to secure investors from the EU in case of dispute so the dispute could be raised in an international court of law.

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The United States has decided to place Myanmar on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking, officials said, a move aimed at prodding the country’s new democratically elected government and its still-powerful military to do more to curb the use of child soldiers and forced labour.

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United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma Yanghee Lee on Monday visited prisons in Rangoon to inspect standards.

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In an effort to raise awareness and strengthen Myanmar’s response to the production, trafficking and use of illicit drugs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Myanmar held a number of high-level policy discussions today.

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Myanmar’s international trade still lags well behind its neighbours despite runaway growth in the last five years, and a comprehensive overhaul of existing trade regulations is needed to stimulate economic development, the World Bank said this week.

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The European Union Ambassador to Myanmar has said that communal tensions in Rakhine State remain “very high on the international agenda” during a policy briefing Wednesday.

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