Religion


Set up five years ago, Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) was part of a charm offensive mounted by President U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government that succeeded in attracting international publicity and funding. Any legitimacy it may have held has taken a battering since.
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An official of the Ministry of Religious Affairs has cautioned that a graphic video posted on social media by nationalist monk U Wirathu dramatising the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by Muslim men could lead to court action.
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Thai authorities have rescued nearly 30 Myanmar victims from alleged human traffickers’ hands in Phuket province.
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Myanmar migrants were among the 39 people who drowned in the Mediterranean on January 30, according to Turkish state media.
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Arakan State Chief Minister U Mra Aung has said that Arakanese nationals who were displaced by fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army, will not be shifted without their consent.
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Phil Blackwood, a New Zealand bar manager convicted of insulting religion in a high-profile case last year, was quietly released from Insein Prison on January 22, the same day he was granted amnesty, according to two political prisoner groups. His Myanmar colleagues, the owner and co-manager of the bar, have not been freed and were not pardoned, the same groups said.
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Participants at a world peace conference attended by President U Thein Sein slammed Myanmar for being “weak” on responding to religious conflict.
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Last year I was often asked who would win the 2015 general election. The answer was obvious enough: The National League for Democracy was primed to triumph in any relatively free vote. No prizes for that prediction.
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On January 22, the Myanmar government sent a contradictory message on its sentencing of political prisoners.

Naypyidaw released 52 political prisoners while on the same day sentencing Kachin activist Patrick Khum Jaa Lee to six months in jail for a Facebook post. The 52 political prisoners released from five prisons nationwide last week – including Myintkyina, Putaoo and Insein – were part of the 101 total prisoners released by the government.
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The government of Myanmar’s departing president, Thein Sein, oversaw the systematic persecution of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority — a human rights debacle that one study has described as genocide. Mr. Thein Sein also signed four bills into law last year regulating interfaith marriage, birth spacing and religious conversion that clearly targeted Myanmar’s Muslim minority.
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Fifty-two political prisoners were released from penitentiaries across Burma on Friday, while 78 remain and hundreds more are still facing trial on politically motivated charges, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which called on the government to release the outstanding prisoners of conscience.
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The chair of a local civil society organization and two others were detained in Arakan State’s Kyaukphyu Township on Thursday, according to eyewitnesses, who suggested the trio were accused of having links to the Arakan Army (AA).
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A diverse crowd of religious figures from around the world convened in central Burma on Friday for the start of the World Buddhist Peace Conference, an ambitious event with the stated aim of bridging religious differences in Burma and abroad.
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Phil Blackwood, a New Zealand national incarcerated in Rangoon’s Insein Prison since December 2014, will be released on Friday.
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Conflict and tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma could be up for discussion at the World Buddhist Peace Conference in Sagaing Township, where the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy is hosting the three-day event beginning this Friday.
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Rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday called for the immediate and unconditional release of former Buddhist monk U Gambira who was arrested in Mandalay on Tuesday evening on immigration charges.
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The death sentences handed down to two migrant workers from Burma by a Thai court on Christmas Eve ignited widespread condemnation in Burma. Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 22, were convicted of the murder of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao in September 2014. The police investigation and proceedings were widely criticized for serious shortcomings, including allegations of police torture to extract initial confessions which the Thai authorities refused to investigate seriously.  Forensic experts from Thailand and Australia have raised serious questions about DNA evidence linked to the rape of Witheridge, on which the prosecution heavily relied. Defense lawyers have said they will appeal the decision. (more…)

How much should you sacrifice to save your husband’s life?

And how much hardship do you inflict on your son to rescue your husband?
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To systematically monitor the use of hate speech through media, PEN Myanmar has been conducting a conflict sensitive media monitoring project, the group said in a statement on 12 January to announce the release of their report ‘Hate Speech:A Study of Print, Movies, Songs and Social Media in Myanmar.’
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Last year’s crackdown on the trafficking of Rohingya refugees from Burma (Myanmar), and the subsequent discovery of mass graves at human trafficking camps hidden among the jungles of Southern Thailand led to the arrest of 91 individuals who are now standing trial in Bangkok.
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