Interviews


Among the many challenges facing the incoming National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government will be addressing the political aspirations of Burma’s ethnic nationalities. Federalism was high on the agenda at the recent Union Peace Conference, with some ethnic leaders proposing a system of eight ethnic states to replace the current configuration of seven states and seven divisions. The Irrawaddy’s Htet Naing Zaw recently spoke with Khun Htun Oo, chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), about the role of ethnic peoples in building a federal Union.
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The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Burma is facing a funding shortfall of $51 million to meet all the needs till the end of 2016. The organisation, which has a 250-strong staff in the country, says it provided food and cash assistance to 1.2 million people in 2015. This includes emergency food assistance to half a million victims of disasters and conflict.
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Today, 26 January, is the 67th Republic Day of India. H.E. Mr. Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Ambassador of India to Myanmar, talked to Mizzima Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint about a range of issues including Indian-Myanmar relations, the Act East Policy, the potential for improved trade and investment between the two countries and his positive view of the Myanmar elections.
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Today, 26 January, is the 67th Republic Day of India. H.E. Mr. Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Ambassador of India to Myanmar, talked to Mizzima Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint about a range of issues including Indian-Myanmar relations, the Act East Policy, the potential for improved trade and investment between the two countries and his positive view of the Myanmar elections.
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Joshua Chit Tun is a 29-year-old Burmese-born American, educated in the United States. His grandfather, Walter Chit Tun, was one of Burma’s pioneer body builders, a professional weightlifter and one of Burma’s earliest movie stars.
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She may be of mixed background—born to a Scottish mom, an ethnic Karen father and raised in Sydney, Australia—but film actress Tasneem Roc retains a deep fondness for her Burmese roots. She paid a visit to her father’s hometown, Myaungmya, Irrawaddy Division, in early January and met with some of her relatives. The Irrawaddy recently spoke with Tasneem Roc about her career and her connection to Burma, particularly her ethnic Karen roots.
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Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been preparing for a peaceful political transition from the current quasi-civilian government under the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to a more democratic one led by the National League for Democracy (NLD). She spoke with reporter Khin Maung Soe of RFA’s Myanmar Service during the “Hard Road to Democracy” program this week about ongoing peace talks, cabinet appointments, Myanmar expats and press policy. Following are excerpts from the program.
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Manam Tu Ja is a well-known Kachin leader, who served 34 years in the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). He led the KIO delegation that participated in the military-run National Convention, a controversial process that resulted in the drafting of the 2008 constitution.
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The National League for Democracy (NLD) is currently in the process of forming a government following its landslide victory in Nov. 8 elections. The outgoing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government is part of a bipartisan committee with NLD representatives that has been discussing the upcoming transfer of political power.
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Clashes erupted between the Arakan Army and the Burma Army around Mt. Yam Chaung, in Kyauktaw Township, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4. Though conflict has subsided, tensions remain high and hundreds of villagers have already been displaced by the fighting. (more…)

In an exclusive interview with Mizzima before he finishes his post, US Ambassador Derek Mitchell talked with Mizzima Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint about a range of issues, principally the victory of the National League for Democracy, the ongoing peace process, and concerns about Myanmar’s relationship with North Korea.
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Devi Thant Cin is a well-known environmentalist and coordinator of the Myanmar Green Network. The non-government organisation has been using the increasing space for civil society in Myanmar in recent years to lobby against environmentally damaging mega projects, such as the Myitsone hydropower dam on the Ayeyarwaddy River.
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In the aftermath of her party’s overwhelming victory in the Nov. 8 elections, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been preparing for a peaceful political transition from the current quasi-civilian government under the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to a more democratic one led by the National League for Democracy (NLD). She spoke with reporter Khin Maung Soe of RFA’s Myanmar Service during the “Hard Road to Democracy” program on Thursday about reorganizing the government to make it more efficient, ensuring transparency and eliminating state-run media outlets in the Southeast Asian country. The following is an edited version of their discussion.
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The Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Center (ENAC) was founded in 2013 to support Burma’s political dialogue through the development of inclusive policy recommendations created by both grassroots and elite stakeholders.
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Former political prisoner Yan Naing is a politician and activist from the Irrawaddy Delta. A member of Burma’s Muslim minority, he was a second generation supporter of the National League for Democracy.
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Kyaw Zwa Moe: Welcome to Dateline Irrawaddy. This week, we’ll discuss the controversy over the Koh Tao murder case ruling—whether the two Burmese men, who were given the death sentence, are guilty or are scapegoats, and if the appeal will be considered. Ko Min Oo, who is a member of the investigation committee on the case formed by the Myanmar Embassy to Thailand and The Irrawaddy’s reporter Kyaw Kha will join me for the discussion. I’m Irrawaddy English editor Kyaw Zwa Moe.
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Thailand’s most prominent forensics expert, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, who is head of the country’s Central Institute of Forensic Science, was recently called on by the defense team representing two Burmese men accused of murder to reexamine crucial DNA evidence. Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were arrested last year for the killing of British backpackers David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on a Thai resort island on the night of September 15, 2014. However, the handling of the case by Thai police has been the subject of significant controversy and the two Burmese men have alleged they were tortured into a confession. The trial is continuing on Koh Samui. The Irrawaddy’s Saw Yan Naing spoke with Dr Pornthip about her team’s findings and ongoing involvement in the case.
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The Burmese government has vowed to continue assisting two migrant workers accused of murdering British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge in Thailand, after the pair were sentenced to death by the Koh Samui provincial court on Thursday.
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Burma’s ethnic armed groups may have once attacked each other as a result of political ploys, but now they have learned their lesson, claims Lt-Gen Yawd Serk, chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and its militant wing, the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S).
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Thalun Zaung Htet: Welcome to Dateline Irrawaddy. This week we’ll discuss if the new government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) will be able to tackle Burma’s executive, judicial and legislative challenges, as well as end armed conflicts with the country’s ethnic groups. Lawyer U Robert San Aung and the Myanmar Journalist Union’s U Zaw Thet Htwe are joining me for the discussion. I’m Thalun Zaung Htet, editor of The Irrawaddy’s Burmese edition.
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