An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
Myanmar's Military: Back to the Barracks?
International Crisis Group: Asia Briefing No. 143 - 22 April 2014
The Tatmadaw initiated the current transition, and has continued to be broadly supportive of it - even when it has reduced its economic privileges and political influence. At the same time, the constitution gives the Tatmadaw the power to protect its essential interests, through its control of key security ministries, freedom from civilian oversight and the legislative influence and veto on constitutional change provided by its 25 per cent bloc of seats.
It has signalled that it does not see these prerogatives as permanent, and that it is ready to contemplate them being gradually phased out as the new political system stabilises and matures. Yet, the indications are that it will move very cautiously, such that the Tatmadaw will have a significant role in the political life of the country for some time to come - even if it sees advantages to security sector reform, in terms of reputation and the modernisation that would be facilitated by strategic partnerships with Western militaries. Read full report…..
Derek Tonkin writes. This latest analysis by the ICG merits careful reading. Its conclusions are well argued and unlikely to arouse controversy. A valuable background guide to assist the formulation of Western policy.
Why conflict continues in Kachin State
Eleven Media - 21 April 2014
Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has erupted just as the government aims to step up efforts to sign a nation-wide ceasefire with various ethnic armed groups.
There are different versions as to why the Myanmar Army has stepped up efforts to seize control of rebel-held territory. This article looks at the origins of the recent clashes and questions why the conflict has restarted. Continue reading.....
- Burmese insurgents call on US to enter peace talks - Reuters
- Gun Maw urges US role in ending conflict - Matthew Pennington AP
Win Tin, opponent of Myanmar's military, dies at 85
Reuters - 21 April 2014
"We've lost the most selfless and fearless politician," his close friend Tha Ban, another veteran journalist and politician, told Reuters. "It's an irreplaceable loss for not only for the NLD but also for the entire people."
Win Tin did not always see eye to eye with Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest in 2010 after a rigged election ushered in a reformist government and ended almost 50 years of military rule. He publicly disagreed over her decision to run in April 2012 by-elections that took the NLD into parliament, arguing that the party's participation lent authority to a government packed with former generals.
"So far as I know, he was the only leader of the NLD party who had the courage to disagree with Daw Suu openly in some issues," said a senior NLD member who asked not to be named, using an honorific to refer to Suu Kyi. "But he never betrayed her. He was a staunch supporter of amending the constitution so that it will pave the way for her to become president."
- Obituary on Win Tin in The New Light of Myanmar - 22 April 2014
- U Win Tin (1929-2014): Burma's moral compass - Democratic Voice of Burma
- Aung San Suu Kyi pays tibute to Win Tin - BBC News Asia
US Envoy Power urges action to stop Rakhine violence
Reuters - 17 April 2014
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on Thursday urged the Myanmar government to intervene in Rakhine State to stop violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. Power's remarks came after U.N. special adviser on Myanmar Vijay Nambiar briefed the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Thursday on the crisis in the country formerly known as Burma.
At least 237 have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 displaced, many of them stateless Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, one of Myanmar's poorest regions that is home to 1 million Rohingya. U.N. officials have warned that the violence poses a serious threat to the country's dramatic economic and political reforms as it emerges from a half century of military rule.
"We continue to support Burma's reforms, but are greatly concerned that without effective government intervention violence in Rakhine could worsen, lives will be lost, and the critically needed humanitarian presence will not be sustainable," Power said in a statement.
The 'Rohingya' Identity: Further Thoughts: 19 April 2014
A further essay by Derek Tonkin on the identity of Muslim groups in Arakan
The 'Rohingya' Identity: The British Experience in Arakan 1826 - 1948: 9 April 2014
A brief review by Derek Tonkin on how the British recorded Muslims in their censuses
Kachin general makes US visit amid fighting at home
Radio Free Asia - 14 April 2014
The deputy commander-in-chief of one of Myanmar’s largest ethnic rebel armies has begun a 12-day visit to the United States to meet with lawmakers and officials amid ongoing clashes with government troops that could mar nationwide ceasefire negotiations.
Kachin Independence Army (KIA) General Gun Maw met Monday with political affairs and human rights officials at the State Department after arriving in Washington a day earlier.
“We came here to share our situation with those who are interested in Myanmar and Kachin and with U.S. government officials,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
His four-member delegation was expected to raise issues related to a nationwide ceasefire agreement that Myanmar President Thein Sein’s government hopes will end decades of conflict with rebel groups and speed up reforms as the country emerges from decades under military rule.
- Fighting intensifies in Northern Burma - Voice of America
- Foreign Office Minister of State Hugo Swire visits Kachin State - UK Govt
- From Jade Land to a Waste Land - The Irrawaddy 21 February 2014
Thingyan Water Festival and New Year
Press Statement - 11 April 2014
Sfecretary of State
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate and send best wishes to the people of Myanmar on the occasion of Thingyan.
The United States is committed to working in partnership to help your country realize the promise of peace, democracy, expanded economic opportunity and justice for everyone in your country. We cherish the hope that your work to achieve a historic ceasefire and political dialogue will be the basis for national harmony and a shared vision for the future.
Your leadership as ASEAN Chair demonstrates your increasing impact in the region, and showcases your country’s progress and potential.
As you gather with family, friends, and neighbors to honor your rich traditions and culture with prayer, celebration and renewal, know that the people of the United States send their best wishes for a peaceful and happy New Year.
Suu Kyi in Germany
Channel News Asia/AFP - 11 April 2014
Speaking in Berlin today to accept a human rights award, she said the country formerly called Burma still needs a democratic constitution, true national reconciliation and a change of mindset among its ex-military rulers.
She urged the world to keep a close eye on the government and to ask: "Does it want to go toward a truly democratic union or does it want to go towards an authoritarian state disguised in democratic garb?"
Suu Kyi was receiving the Willy Brandt Award - the latest in a long line of human rights awards she has picked up since being permitted to travel again in 2012. She also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.
Thanking her international supporters for backing the cause of freedom, she cautioned that "Burma is not yet a democracy. We have been given the chance to build a democratic society, we have not yet built one. But because we have been given the chance, because we now have a choice, we are at a most sensitive, most dangerous time in the path of our evolution."
Referring back to a 1962 coup, the daughter of Burma's independence hero Aung San said: "People forget that we were under military dictatorship for more than half a century".
- Tin Aye's plan to cheat the game - The Irrawaddy
- Suu Kyi questions Myanmar Government's commitment to democracy - RFA
- Suu Kyi leaves Europe armed with support for consttutional change - DVB
- Suu Kyi warns of Myanmar transition dangers on Paris visit - RFI
- Suu Kyi says she won't single out any groups for reconciliation - Bloomberg
- An open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi: Sufyan bin Uzayr - Foreign Policy in Focus
- Burma not yet a democracy, at dangerous crossroads: Suu Kyi - NTD.tv
- The Lady's allure is challenged - Amantha Perera IPS
Statement by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
UNIC Yangon - 9 April 2014
United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Ms. Renata Dessallien has issued the following statement concerning the Investigation Commission which examined Incidents in Sittwe on 26-27 March 2014:
"I welcome the response of the Government of the Union of Myanmar to the attacks against the UN and INGO premises in Sittwe, in particular the Government’s public condemnation of the violence, the rapid establishment by the President of the Investigation Commission chaired by the Deputy Minister of Border Affairs, and the recognition that the incident which sparked the attacks was purely unintentional……[see full text at this link]
The statement concludes: "If we are perceived as being culturally insensitive, we need to build back better with more cultural and conflict sensitivity. If we are perceived as not transparent, we need to find ways to be more transparent without hampering vital humanitarian services. If we are perceived as being biased, we need to explain better what we do and why, both in our humanitarian and development work, and we must increase our development assistance to Rakhine communities.
"I join the Investigation Commission in expressing deep sorrow for the death of the 11 year old girl during the violence of the 27 March. It is so often the innocent who suffer most by violence. We look forward to a building back better with the full support and understanding of the Government and Rakhine communities so that such violence never recurs.
Government accuses UK of interfering in Rakhine
Myanmar Times - 10 April 2014
Presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut has accused Britain of interfering in Myanmar's internal affairs after it summoned the Myanmar Ambassador in an effort to convince the government to allow humanitarian aid activities to resume in Rakhine State.
"The president has already explained to the secretary-general of the UN [Ban Ki-moon] that the government has taken the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of all international organisations [working in Rakhine State]," U Ye Htut said. "So we don't need to say anything more."
U Ye Htut, who is also a deputy minister for information, also took issue with Britain's usage of the term "Rohingya" in a statement issued following the meeting with the ambassador. He said no official documents from the British colonial period had ever referred to Muslims in Rakhine State as Rohingya. "It's unreasonable for the British to now urge recognition of the term," he said. "It appears they are trying to intervene in our internal affairs and we don't accept it."
Derek Tonkin examines the British experience in coping with the Muslim issue in Arakan in their censuses [1872, 1881, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941]
- Text of Statement by Commission of Inquiry (Burmese text)
- UN welcomes establishment of probe into recent attacks on aid workers
- Govt. to protect NGOs after sluggish response to Sittwe riots - DVB
- Myanmar President meets US Assistant Secretary of State on Rakhine - AP
- Commission criticizes Arakan Govt's 'weak' handling of riots - The Irrawaddy