Religion


Myanmar’s new government released scores of jailed activists on Friday, just over a week after assuming power, and said it was preparing to pardon 100 more people serving sentences for political offences.
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Amid news of charges being cleared against political detainees, in a court in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township, two Muslim interfaith activists were sentenced to two more years in prison—with labor—on Friday for allegedly associating with unlawful organizations.
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This year it is Mandalay that has broken the bounds of all reason or responsibility by threatening to imprison women who appear in outfits deemed too skimpy during water festival.
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Burma’s long-established ethnic Karen armed organization, the Karen National Union (KNU), has been preparing land and shelter for the possible return of civilians displaced internally and on the Thai-Burma border after more than six decades of civil war with government forces.
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Burma, once isolated regionally and globally, is rapidly opening up with ongoing political reforms. Foreign affairs representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in particular are now anticipating a relationship with a new Burmese counterpart. Yet she is no stranger to them: the foreign minister is also the country’s charismatic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
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Myanmar’s former president Thein Sein has shed his formal attire and his hair to join the Buddhist monkhood.
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Aung Ko, Burma’s new religious affairs minister, has twice in less than a week stirred controversy, with the latest involving his visit to nationalist Buddhist monks from the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion on Monday in Rangoon, including the firebrand U Wirathu.
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Muslim organizations both overseas and within Burma have condemned a statement made by Religious Affairs Minister Aung Ko that those who practice Islam are not full citizens of the country.
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The State Department’s minimization of the plight of the Rohingya is sending dangerous, mixed messages to Myanmar and its neighbors.
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The Burmese government’s lifting of the state of emergency in Arakan State should promptly be followed by the end of abusive restrictions on ethnic Rohingya and other Muslims.
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Newly unemployed ex-president Thein Sein is set to make his next move – to the monastery.

Thein Sein will be ordained as a monk on 1 April, now that the formal transfer of power to new head of state Htin Kyaw was completed on Wednesday, according to Pyi Myanmar, a Rangoon-based weekly news journal.
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The Myanmar government’s lifting of the state of emergency in Arakan State should promptly be followed by the end of abusive restrictions on ethnic Rohingya and other Muslims, Human Rights Watch said today in a statement.
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Myanmar’s outgoing government has lifted a nearly four-year curfew in the western state of Rakhine, where clashes between the minority Rohingya Muslims and majority Buddhists left more than 200 people dead, mostly Muslims.
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A group of refugees has left the Mae Ra Ma Luang camp on the Thai-Burmese border to return to Karen State, saying conditions in the camp had become intolerable.
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Burma is at a crossroads in its decentralization process. The National League for Democracy’s (NLD) election manifesto affirms that it will implement transparent projects for the balanced development of all 14 states and regions of the country. In an effort to reduce centralized financial control, the NLD vows to divide authority and responsibility for financial matters appropriately between Union and regional governments.
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In 2012, during the early days of Myanmar’s transition to democracy, U Gambira sat in the front row of a crowded hall at Yangon University and listened while U.S. President Barack Obama delivered an historic speech.
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A biographer claims Aung San Suu Kyi angrily complained about being interviewed by a Muslim BBC presenter who pressed her about violence against Rohingya Muslims.
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It’s been a busy, challenging couple of weeks for the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that will assume power in Burma on Friday — nearly five months after an electoral landslide last November, and more than 25 years after it first delivered a humiliating defeat to an army-backed party to win an election victory that was never recognised.
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South Korean-owned garment manufacturers in Myanmar are widely flouting labor law, with almost 30 percent of factories failing to observe overtime rules, a new report says.
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Plenty of Burmese Buddhists are extremely prejudiced against Muslims. But is Aung San Suu Kyi?
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