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On the occasion of your visit to Thailand during June 23-25, we, the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons – composed of academic institutions and civil society organisations in Thailand dedicated to providing support to refugees and stateless people, and researching the issue of migration into Thailand, particularly the Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh – would like to make the following recommendations to Her Excellency as the state counsellor and foreign minister of Myanmar:

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PP* was waiting for her friends in the busy city of Mandalay on a hot, humid evening in July 2013, when she was snatched from behind by plainclothes police officers and bundled into an unmarked vehicle.

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When she talks about imprisoned Rohingya Muslims, her people, her pretty face changes; her eyes darken, her straight-backed posture grows tense, and her voice grows louder: “The government now deny that we even exist,” she says.

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For much of the past two decades Maung Aye’s life has revolved around a daily routine that mixes the hope of finding sudden riches with constant danger and back-breaking work.

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A New York Times editorial this week slammed what it called “Aung San Suu Kyi’s Cowardly Stance on the Rohingya,” in reaction to a request earlier this month from Suu Kyi’s Foreign Ministry to the US Embassy to avoid using the term “Rohingya.” The appeal came after an embassy statement last month offering condolences over the drowning of more than 20 displaced Muslims in Arakan State provoked a demonstration outside the embassy building for using the contentious term.
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On May 20, the national emergency that underpins the remaining US sanctions on Myanmar will expire unless renewed by President Barack Obama.
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Lee Jones, a senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, has just published Societies Under Siege: Exploring How International Economic Sanctions (Do Not) Work. In it, he evaluates the use and success of sanctions in three key cases – South Africa, Iraq and Myanmar – and finds that sanctions rarely achieve their stated aims. We spoke to Jones via Skype.
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The National League for Democracy government faces a host of daunting challenges and one of the most critical is its election promise to establish a federal state.
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Wherever you looked around the country, there were issues that demanded attention including tough topics like human trafficking, drug production, HIV, civil war, child soldiering, economic malaise, forced conscription and crony capitalism.
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I must start with a correction. My column last week spoke about the abusive system of apartheid in Rakhine State that means Muslim people are kept in camps and forced to make dangerous, sometimes fatal, journeys to access basic supplies because they are not allowed to travel freely.
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The Burmese government under State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has kicked off a new phase of the peace process with the country’s ethnic minorities. On 27 April, Suu Kyi held a meeting with the Joint Monitoring Committee, a body representing the army and eight non-state armed groups that signed the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) last October.
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Dear President U Htin Kyaw,

We congratulate you on becoming Myanmar’s first civilian president appointed by a democratically elected parliament since 1962. We respect the sacrifices that you, National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and millions of people in Myanmar have made in ending repressive military rule in the country.
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When I first lived in Thailand, almost two decades ago, the prevailing attitude toward Myanmar was predictably dismissive. Myanmar was considered backward, destitute and despotic.
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FOR the first time in its history, there will be a Nobel Peace laureate and the world’s most famous political icon in the family of the Asean Ministerial Meeting (AMM), which serves as the Asean annual meeting.
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Many have recently debated whether U.S. president Barack Obama’s foreign policy can appropriately be deemed “realist.” Whether or not it fits the academic definition, the Obama administration’s worldview has evinced an audacious level of pragmatism—a pragmatism perhaps best illustrated by Myanmar. Obama and Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, found usefully practical partners in one another and have achieved impressively idealistic ends. Continued reform there, however, will require even more hard-nosed approaches to difficult dilemmas by both the United States and Myanmar.
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Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s state counselor and de facto leader of the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government, met with the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee on Wednesday, calling for the convening of a “Panglong-style” peace conference within two months and encouraging all stakeholders to help make the suggestion a reality.
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In what some are seeing as the first step toward a stronger assertion of its interests in Myanmar, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Nay Pyi Taw on May 1 in the country’s first high-level engagement with Myanmar since the National League for Democracy government took office. The minister will meet President U Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who also holds the post of foreign minister.
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For the first time in over half a century, Myanmar has a government with a popular mandate, led by the National League for Democracy. Although the armed forces still have extensive political powers under the 2008 constitution, and may seriously curtail the independent action of the new government, the inauguration of President U Htin Kyaw represents a radical increase in the internal and international legitimacy of the Myanmar state.

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In one of the many rooms of Myanmar’s massive parliament building in Naypyitaw, the country’s sprawling military-designed capital, Bo Bo Oo is busy reviewing a stack of letters on his desk.
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Ashin Nyar Na has spent nearly 16 years in jail for unorthodox beliefs that have angered the powerful supreme body representing Buddhist monks in Myanmar.  (more…)

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