Regional


Pusaka Benjina Resources, the fishing company at the centre of a recent Indonesian government crackdown, has denied allegations of slavery even after an investigation revealed it had forced hundreds of foreign workers including Myanmar migrants into physical labour, reports the Jakarta Globe on April 15.
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Myanmar is close to peace after decades of internal strife.

Government representatives met at the end of March with more than a dozen ethnic armed groups and agreed on a draft ceasefire. (more…)

Five asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Iran have agreed to be among the first to leave the Pacific island nation of Nauru for Cambodia under a deal that allows refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the Southeast Asian country, a refugee advocate said Monday. (more…)

“Bangladesh should appoint a PR in Myanmar for improving relations,” Khin Zaw Win says, “and solve refugee issue using third party, UN or others”. (more…)

Three members of a group calling itself Jit Arsa [volunteer spirit] are staging a 500-kilometre march to ask the Thai government to claim back their village. (more…)

After 70 years of lobbying, the last state in Myanmar without an airport is finally on the verge of receiving its own runway – a move advocates say could kickstart tourism in one of the remotest corners of the country.
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The Yunnan provincial government has informed Myanmar about a crackdown on illegal border trade in April and May, according to entrepreneurs.
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Indonesia’s national rights commission said Tuesday it was investigating allegations that hundreds of people, mostly from Myanmar, are forced to work on fishing boats with little or no pay. (more…)

Recent crises raise some interesting questions about the strength of China’s non-interventionist principles.

Despite Chinese Foreign Minister Hong Lei’s unequivocal denial of Myanmar’s assertions of Chinese involvement in the Kokang conflict, the notion of tacit Chinese support may bring up broader questions for observers and leaders alike. Some under the SCO umbrella may be asking, when it comes to protecting its citizens, will China truly respect the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention? Will possible future action against Chinese migrants in our sovereign territory face active opposition by the Chinese government? (more…)

The Burmese embassy in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta says it is gathering information to provide travel documents to 450 trafficked fisherman. (more…)

Two police officers from an anti-narcotics task force were killed and three wounded when a bomb exploded in a volatile area of northeastern Myanmar near the border with China, a police official said on Monday. (more…)

Dressed in Chelsea football shorts and a wide-brimmed hat, Than Tun toils away in his paddy field on the outskirts of Rangoon, sweat pouring down his sinewy arms.

Gruelling work that once helped Burma become the world’s largest rice exporter is today a Herculean and often lonely job for farmers striving to return the impoverished nation to its former grain prowess. (more…)

Vietnam’s HAGL Looks for New Investor After Rangoon Property Deal Falls Through

Vietnamese conglomerate Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) is reportedly targeting Hong Kong and Singapore firms as it seeks a new investor for a massive real estate development going up on the eastern shore of Rangoon’s Inya Lake. (more…)

US President Barack Obama said Washington is concerned China is using its “sheer size and muscle” to push around smaller nations in the South China Sea, just hours after Beijing gave a detailed defense of its creation of artificial islands in the contested waterway. (more…)

Five brokerage firms in Rangoon that arranged for the Burmese seamen to work on the Dalny Vostok have had their licenses revoked for not informing the men they would be working on a fishing ship. The operator of the ship also faces action for illegally accepting the workers.

In a DVB interview – see below – one of the survivors, Htet Ko Ko, says he was not aware he would be working on a fishing boat until he was taken there by speedboat. (more…)

Taking advantage of the now open Myanmar economy, Vietnam has been actively promoting investment activities through both its public and private sector, reports Deal Street Asia on April 6.
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Assistance is being provided by the Burmese embassy in Jakarta to the fishermen who were rescued from an island in Indonesia, on which they were kept in slave-like conditions.
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The same trawlers that had enslaved countless migrant fishermen for years carried more than 300 of them to freedom Saturday, following a dramatic rescue from a remote Indonesian island that many men believed would likely be their final resting place.
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Efforts are being made to improve the rights and protection of Myanmar migrants working legally in Thailand, according to a report in Myawady on April 3.
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Myanmar and China have long stressed the “pauk-phaw” or “fraternal” nature of their bilateral relationship. But the comforting catchphrase belies the often uneasy reality. While at pains to maintain strong ties with its giant neighbor, successive Myanmar leaders have often viewed the country with which they share a 1,250 mile border as a potential threat.
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