On The Border


Nearly 1,000 Karen refugees crowded Wat Miang Yee Kung in Myanmar’s Pha Ang province, opposite Tak’s Phob Phra district, following the Myanmar government’s crackdown on the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) faction led by Colonel San Aung, a source in Karen State revealed yesterday.

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The Burma Army and the allied Border Guard Force (BGF) took at least three bases from a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), as fighting escalated in Karen State’s Mae Tha Waw area on Thursday, amid claims that the Burma Army and the BGF have been forcibly conscripting locals as porters.

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Development along the border between Myanmar and China has heated up as trade between the two countries has surged. Few places represent this trend as well as this town in Myanmar’s Shan State, on the opposite bank of the Shweli River from China’s Yunnan Province.

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Clashes have been reported over the weekend in Karen State between a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the Burma Army-aligned Border Guard Force (BGF).

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Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population will allow tourists from 100 countries holding electronic visas to enter Burma through three cities on the Thai border, starting on Sept. 1.

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The Indian Army is maintaining pressure on insurgent groups with “seek-and-destroy operations and surgical strikes” along the 1,643-km porous land border with Myanmar, even as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is slated to visit Naypyidaw on Monday.

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The Myanmar military has denied there was a recent exchange of gunfire on Myanmar soil between the Indian army and an ethnic armed group, state media reported on 22 August.

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Myanmar will not allow its territory to be used for any anti-India activities, this was conveyed by Myanmarese leaders to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who assured “all help” to the new government that came to power in March after decades of military rule. In the first high-level visit from India after the civilian government assumed office in Naypyidaw, Swaraj called on President U Htin Kyaw and held talks with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi on key bilateral issues, including cross-border activities by certain insurgent groups.

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The government is to open new checkpoints along twelve known smuggling routes from border areas, after the disbandment of multi-departmental mobile task forces in December was blamed for an increase in overland smuggling.

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About 10 years ago, Ko Aung Kyaw Oo* hopped on a motorbike taxi in the Chinese border town of Ruili. A few minutes later he was dropped off in Muse, on the Myanmar side. Now in his 40s, he has never returned to China, nor does he want to.

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Service centers for Burmese refugees who wish to return home will soon be opened in the camps along the Thai-Burma border—a sudden development that has alarmed refugees and camp leaders.

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Could the issue of citizenship documents to Kokang residents in Shan State open the back door to infiltration from China? That appeared to be the implication floated by Myanmar’s immigration minister yesterday when he spoke to MPs of the progress of regularising citizenship in the self-administered zone.

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Service centers providing support for Burmese refugees returning home voluntarily are to be established in all nine Burmese refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border later this month.

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Stakeholders including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and community-based organizations (CBOs) discussed preparations for refugee repatriation in the Mae La camp on the Thai-Burma border.

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A collective of humanitarian agencies, The Border Consortium (TBC), will introduce a new system of food provision, using electronic cards, at the end of this month for Burmese refugees living on Thai-Burma border.

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40 border based civil society organisations (CSOs) have sent an open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi calling for the restoration of their original Myanmar citizenship and to let them participate in the transition to a federal democratic country.

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Taking the cue from India, Bangladesh has decided to fence its borders with Myanmar using barbed wires to prevent terrorist infiltration and smuggling of goods.

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Due to heavy rains in northern Shan State and increased scrutiny from Chinese officials, Burmese traders who typically sell unsanctioned goods in China have been stuck in the border town of Muse, unable to offload their products, sources said.

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India has asked Myanmar to act against four top leaders of the Sagaing-based National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), including its chief S.S. Khaplang, accused of the ambush on an army convoy in Manipur in June last year in which 18 soldiers were killed, TheHindu reported on 28 July.

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In an effort to negotiate a peace deal between the ethnic-based insurgent groups of Myanmar and the Myanmar government, former Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga left for Bangkok on Monday to meet representatives of 16 such militant groups.

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