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The Burmese government recently came under fire for back-pedaling on a pledge to grant the country’s beleaguered Rohingya minority the right to vote. On February 12, the government announced the imminent suspension of all temporary ID cards held by over half a million Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, dashing hopes that they might be allowed to vote in Burma’s first general election in over fifty years, scheduled for the end of this year.
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In this teeming camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, it’s easy to overlook the Internet huts. The raw emotion they generate is much harder to ignore.
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Twenty-three years after more than a dozen members of a well-known student militia were massacred in northern Burma, a survivor of the incident has published a book recounting his experience.
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One week before the Chinese New Year, the former leader of the ethnic Kokang National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Peng Jiasheng, launched ferocious attacks on the government military in Kokang. Peng was driven out of power during the Kokang Incident in 2009 and has since disappeared from public view. While it remains unclear at this moment whether Peng will regain control of Kokang, the renewed conflict and his reemergence have added major uncertainty to Myanmar’s peace process and could potentially affect the upcoming elections.
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In this week’s episode of DVB Debate, the panel reflects on the legacy of General Aung San, the man revered as the father of modern Burma.
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In 2009, Burma’s then consul general in Hong Kong sent a letter to local newspapers and fellow diplomats posted in the Chinese territory. It was addressing concerns over the treatment of refugees from Burma’s Rohingya population, a Bengali-speaking Muslim minority long marginalized in the country. Incidents of shipwrecked boats bearing half-starved, desperate Rohingya from Burma had won wider attention in the region.
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The first film screened in competition at Fica, the International Festival of Asian Cinema in Vesoul in eastern France, was a rare bird: a fiction film from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The Monk is the first feature film directed by The Maw Naing.
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I used to be proud of being a Bamar. In the early days of my life, I was overwhelmed with pride for our rich culture, civilization and centuries-long history. We Bamar are a people who founded three great empires and produced warrior kings who were feared by our neighbors. In the view of the average Bamar, we are superior to any ethnic group politically, economically or culturally, and other minority groups have always looked up to us with fear and envy.
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Since the 32-year-old Aung San was killed in 1947, Myanmar has suffered from a crisis of leadership. The architect of national independence left a giant hole that no one has been able to fill over the past nearly 70 years.
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The government-initiated Committee for Scrutinizing the Remaining Political Prisoners has come to an end. With 159 remaining political prisoners and an entirely unfulfilled mandate, the government has seen fit this week to create a new body, the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee, to handle the urgent problem of political prisoners in our country. (more…)

(unofficial translation)

The king of Kokang has returned after five years. On one hand, he wishes to gain the right to participate in the 2015 political elections. And on the other hand, he wishes to restore his rule in Kokang in northern Myanmar. (more…)

Lush fans of palm frame the scene on the cover of this month’s Travel + Leisure magazine. A white-jacketed waiter sets a table for four on a peaceful patio overlooking a river, shaded by a rose-pink umbrella. (more…)

Talking is better than fighting and shaking hands is better than using a fist; these are universal truths. It is clear that Burma’s present triumvirate of political leaders—President Thein Sein, Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and the Burma Army commander in chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing—have finally realized that a dialogue with their opponents is inevitable. Burma’s ethnic armed groups and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will get a chance to have their say. (more…)

(unofficial translation)

Since the acceleration of democratic transition after the inauguration of U Thein Sein’s government in March 2011, Myanmar society has become increasingly diversified and perceptions of China by different entities has become more complicated. The negative perception of China by Myanmar civil society has has had an especially poor impact on Sino-Myanmar relations. China and Myanmar are both trying to guide public opinion by enhancing interaction in directions that would promote less negative views by Myanmar society. However, it will take more time for Myanmar society to form an objective perception of China. (more…)

(unofficial translation)

Within civil society, some private media have frequently attacked China. In addition, a civil society organization with great political influence — the rapidly rising “88 Generation” organization — has become a main source of poison for Myanmar civil society’s view of China. (more…)

(please note, the below is a translation)

The Myanmar government pursues a diversification strategy in its economic development: balancing among ASEAN, China and non-ASEAN investors. This balancing is reflecting in all aspects of Myanmar’s geopolitics. (more…)

The United States last week blacklisted Aung Thaung, a man regarded as one of Burma’s most controversial lawmakers. A former industry minister under the previous military regime, Aung Thaung today serves as a lawmaker in Parliament’s Lower House. His blacklisting comes less than two weeks ahead of Barack Obama’s visit to Burma, where the US president will attend the Asean and East Asia summits. (more…)

Recently, The Irrawaddy disclosed information that the government wanted to keep hidden from the public, and as a result we are now on the “blacklist” of Rangoon Division’s chief minister.

That’s what one lower-level minister in the divisional government and a lawmaker in the divisional legislature voluntarily told The Irrawaddy, though they requested anonymity. (more…)

Allan Lokos and Susanna Weiss, two New Yorkers who run a meditation center on the Upper West Side, arrived in Myanmar in December 2012 eager to explore a nation just emerging from decades of military rule. As practitioners of Theravada Buddhism themselves, visiting this largely Buddhist land, with its golden pagodas and crimson-robed monks, was more than just a holiday.
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On a recent rain-soaked night, the ancient gold Shwedagon Pagoda, believed to contain relics of the Buddha, glowed through the mist in Rangoon.
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