Military


At a press conference in Rangoon on Wednesday, the Burma Army re-stated their defense of a low-ranking soldier accused by locals of murdering an unarmed ethnic Kachin student, aged 19 years old, in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina on June 20.

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It is believed that the attendance by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, at the 69th Martyrs’ Day memorial, the first such attendance by a serving army Commander-in-Chief in over 30 years, is a good omen for national reconciliation in the country.

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The Burma Army has said it will take action against troops accused of killing civilians in a rural area of northern Shan State’s Lashio Township in late June.

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Myanmar’s military on Wednesday voiced no objection to the ethnic summit planned for later this month, Lt. Gen. Mya Tun Oo from the office of commander-in-chief (Army) told the press in Yangon Wednesday.

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The Shan State parliament has approved an urgent proposal imploring government intervention to bring an end to simmering conflict between the national army and ethnic armed groups in the state’s north, which has displaced thousands of civilians.

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More than a thousand local residents in northern Shan State’s Lashio Township on Saturday staged a protest demanding an end to the arbitrary killing of civilians in the area.

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Aung Kyi, an information minister under the previous Thein Sein government, has been appointed head of a new three-member “think tank” adjoined to the government’s re-branded peace secretariat, which includes various peace process veterans from the previous government.

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Myanmar’s peace process has made some steps forward since reforms began under the U Thein Sein government in 2011. In October 2015, eight ethnic armed groups signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government, despite some of the largest groups in the country – including the Kachin Independence Army and the United Wa State Army – refusing to join the agreement.

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The murders of seven innocent villagers in Shan State last month and the impunity of the Burmese military cannot be swept under the carpet, says Shan human rights advocates in a statement released yesterday.

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Burma Army Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing requested soldiers stationed in Arakan State not to practice “extreme activities” while upholding their culture and religion.

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Burma’s national League for Democracy (NLD) government has announced a 21st Century Panglong Conference (21CPC), scheduled for the end of August, to address the country’s decades-long ethnic conflict and the need for national reconciliation. The idea for this 21CPC was first mentioned by Aung San Suu Kyi, who as state counsellor is now the de facto leader of the government, in late 2010.

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It’s not easy to govern a country emerging from a half-century of military rule, particularly with one hand tied behind your back. After sweeping Burma’s historic elections in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), now faces daunting challenges. It needs to repeal or reform problematic laws, restructure military-dominated bureaucracies, and deal with violent strains of xenophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

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The Tagaung Institute of Political Studies was established in 2014 by nine former activists, including founding members of the Yangon School of Political Science. The institute closely monitors the Myanmar Armed Forces, and has released several papers about the Tatmadaw and the National Defence and Security Council, which is responsible for security and defence affairs in Myanmar.

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Burma’s powerful military remains intolerant of press freedom, fearing a negative portrayal of its institution.

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The dispute between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) over the Htee Khee checkpoint on the Burma-Thailand border—used by the KNLA for tax collection—has ben resolved through bilateral negotiations on Saturday, Tenasserim Division Chief Minister Lei Lei Maw told The Irrawaddy.

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A Chin political party released a statement on Tuesday demanding that both the Burma Army and the Arakan Army stop conscripting forced labor, burning houses and torturing locals in rural areas of Paletwa Township in southern Chin State.

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The Burma Army’s deputy regional commander visited Mong Yaw village in Lashio Township on Sunday, giving “donations” to victims’ families after seven people in and around the village were killed on June 28, with locals blaming the Burma Army.

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Tensions remain high after fighting broke out over the weekend between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army in Laiza—the KIA headquarters—amid ongoing peace talks in Rangoon.

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Tensions arose between soldiers from the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) over a military checkpoint dispute, leading to the resignation of an ethnic Karen official who serves on a ceasefire monitoring body.

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Shan State’s deputy-chief of police has told DVB that an investigation has been launched into the murder of seven villagers in Lashio Township last week.

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