International


The week-long Laiza conference of 18 ethnic armed organizations which concluded on July 31st proposed that Japan and Norway be invited as signatory witnesses to the planned nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) signing ceremony, according to sources returning from the Sino-Burmese border.
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Burma’s democratic transition is running off the rails. Obama and Kerry can help to bring it back on track.
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When Secretary of State John F. Kerry travels to Burma later this week, it will be crucial that he not treat the Southeast Asian nation as a democratic success story, which it emphatically is not. Burma, also known as Myanmar, is a dictatorship that may or may not be in transition to a more open society. U.S. policy will help determine whether it makes that transition.
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US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, on Saturday and will meet with Burmese government officials, according to a statement from Washington.
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Former U.S. officials — both critics and champions of Myanmar while working for the government — are doing brisk business as consultants introducing investors to the newly open country.
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Despite religious freedom being a tenet of Burma’s Constitution, the US State Department reports that government practices and actions by security forces show that there exists apparent state-sanctioned religious discrimination and violence throughout the country, particularly towards Muslims.
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Senior officials from the United Nations and China have told armed ethnic groups meeting at Laiza in Kachin State that they are ready to assist in efforts to ensure the success of negotiations for a nationwide ceasefire.
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Sen. Mitch McConnell issued a strong call Thursday for Myanmar to amend its constitution to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president and for the military to submit to civilian rule.
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The last three years in Burma have seen remarkable change, as the country starts out on the hard, but essential, journey towards democracy. Working closely with the U.S. and the international community, the U.K. has supported Burma’s progress. We continue to work with the government, political parties, and armed groups to reach a nationwide ceasefire and establish an inclusive nationwide political dialogue. But there is still much to do to ensure Burma continues to move forward on its path to democracy.
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Yanghee Lee, the new UN rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, visited the Arakan State capital Sittwe and has met with leaders of the Arakanese Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities in the troubled region, local sources said.
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced Tehran’s readiness to help Myanmar settle the problems of the Muslim community living in the Southeast Asian country.
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Myanmar’s opening attracted much interest not only from Asian neighbors but also from those in the West that once considered the country a pariah.
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The United States, which has made a priority of improving relations with Myanmar, said on Friday it was “very concerned” by reports that four journalists and a newspaper boss were sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor there this month.
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Myanmar is preparing to grant up to 10 foreign bank licenses next month, a senior government official said, allowing overseas lenders to start doing business in the country after decades of being frozen out.
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Standard Chartered’s decision to not move forward with the licensing process is “a missed opportunity for Myanmar”, according to experts.
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The first ever British Chamber of Commerce has been registered to work in Burma, in a move the UK hopes will assist companies from the former colonial power looking to set up operations here.
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The State Department’s top human rights official is accusing Myanmar authorities of resorting to police-state tactics after five journalists from a weekly magazine got 10 years at hard labor for a disputed story about a weapons factory.
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The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) have denounced the sentencing of four journalists and the CEO of Unity Journal to ten years hard labour for reporting the existence of a secret weapons factory in January.
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The UN’s newly appointed special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar will begin her first visit to the country later this week.
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Gap Inc. began considering operating in Myanmar almost a year after the United States and the European Union formally eased sanctions on the former pariah state; it took another year of preparation before the company became the first U.S. retailer to make clothes in the country formerly known as Burma. In June, Gap announced it will be putting “Made in Myanmar” jackets and vests on its shelves later this summer.
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