An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
UN Rapporteur welcomes latest release of political prisoners
UN News Centre - 11 December 2013
An independent United Nations human rights expert today welcomed the release of 44 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, hailing it as an important step towards fulfilling President Thein Sein’s pledge of freedom for all political prisoners by the end of this year.
“When I look back to the start of my mandate in 2008, I was referring to figures of over 1,900 persons detained on political grounds. It is important to acknowledge the significance of the progress that has been made: today we are referring to figures of less than 50,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar.
Burma: Cleaning up financial crime
UK Government website - 10 December 2013
The British Embassy in Yangon is to partner with Burma’s Government and the private sector to share expertise and training on international best practices in the fields of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). The training will be provided in early 2014 by the UK organisation GovRisk, as part of a regional series of workshops, which have previously taken place in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
Myanmar sits at the corner of an international triangle
David I Steinberg: Global Times - 9 December 2013
In Beijing and Washington, there seems to be an official but unadmitted, common, and simplistic, interpretation of competing interests in Asia: China and the US are locked in East Asia in a zero-sum game for influence.
In Beijing, this is viewed as a US-led containment policy to limit Chinese regional prominence, and is epitomized by the "pivot" or restructuring and strengthening of US interests in East and Southeast Asia.
In Washington, there are concerns over Chinese efforts to increase its influence in the region, exemplified by the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone and the Chinese claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea.
In a far less contentious area - Myanmar - the same, virtually confrontational, dynamic is evident but less direct. Continue reading.....
NLD Delegation departs for China
Democratic Voice of Burma - 8 December 2013
Ten members of National League for Democracy (NLD) left for a goodwill visit to China on Sunday, 8 December, at the invitation of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Spokesman Nyan Win, who will lead the delegation, said this is the first invitation Burma’s main opposition party has received from the Chinese government. Economist Myo Myint, Kyi Kyi Win and several NLD youth members will accompany him.
According to a press release from the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon, during their stay in Beijing the NLD delegation will meet senior officials from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, and the China NGO Network for International Exchanges. The delegation will also visit Shanghai Municipality and Yunnan Province on this visit, the statement said.
Nelson Mandela and Myanmar
- What Burma should learn from Nelson Mandela - Min Zin Foreign Policy
- Mandela: The Man of the Hour - The Irrawaddy June 1999
- Why Aung San Suu Kyi is not 'Myanmar's Mandela' - Catherine Traywick
- Suu Kyi pays tribute to Nelson Mandela - The Irrawaddy 6 December 2013
- South African interest in investing in Myanmar - Eleven Media 6 December 2013
Special Report: Reuters - 5 December 2013
Thai immigration officials said he was being deported to Myanmar. In fact, they sold Ismail, 23, and hundreds of other Rohingya Muslims to human traffickers, who then spirited them into brutal jungle camps.
As thousands of Rohingya flee Myanmar to escape religious persecution, a Reuters investigation in three countries has uncovered a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand's immigration detention centers and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea. Continue reading.....
- Thai PM offers help in trafficking probe - Reuters
- UN calls for investigation into alleged Thai human trafficking - VOA
Statement of US Policy towards Burma
US State Department Press Release - 4 December 2013
Testimony by Judith Beth Cefkin, Senior Advisor on Burma, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. In conclusion, Ms Cefkin noted:
"The United States remains committed to reinforcing Burma’s progress on reform. We remain hopeful, but clear-eyed about the challenges. Burma’s road to reform will be a long process. We should anticipate that along with steps forward there will inevitably be setbacks. To prevail and keep our focus on the long-term goals we must have a strategic approach that is steady and carefully considered, but flexible in implementation and keeps pace with conditions on the ground. We must strengthen our relationships with all sectors in Burma while promoting our common interests and values for a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and reconciled country. We owe it to the Burmese people, and to ourselves given our long-standing commitment to the country, to continue to support them as a remarkable moment of opportunity dawns."
Derek Tonkin writes: This is a definitive statement of the US Administration's current policy towards Myanmar. It avoids the heavy-handed language of 'conditionality' used in the past about action for action, benchmarks and calibration of sanctions, and for this reason is to be broadly welcomed. The general approach is flexible, creative and proactive. Nonetheless, some Representatives took their traditionally hard line.
Testimonies by Vikram J Singh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, and by Gregory Beck, Deputy Assistant Administrator Bureau for Asia U.S. Agency for International Development, are also available at this link.
- State, Defense offricials defend warming relations with Myanmar - Stars and Stripes
- US seeks military ties with Burma - Matthew Pennington AP
Clarifying a Contitutional Contretemps
".....It is better to hold a discussion with these [three] leaders at the same time that the review committee is working on its process to amend the constitution. I requested this meeting because I want the process to amend the constitution to be smoother.”".....Min Ko Naing, leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group, a prominent prodemocracy activist organization, said the four-way meeting should be held without delay....."
".....The matter in hand right now is concerned with the constitution, and the demands include meeting with specific figures and following specific procedures. This is a task for the Union Parliament....."
".....Thein Sein’s explanation for declining to call the meeting - that it is improper to meet only with one out of 58 political parties - is similar to the reasoning of the military government when the NLD tried to meet with it in 1998...."
".....The Union Parliament’s Joint-Committee for Reviewing the Constitution is set to present its report in December [by end January?] and debating the matter ahead of time through alternative means could lead to discord with the report’s findings....."
".....The NLD chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi decided at the central executive on 23 November 23 to request a meeting with President U Thein Sein, the Parliament, and the military with the aim for a smoother transition in the amending process of the 2008 Constitution....."
Myanmar to allow foreign banks to set up wholly foreign owned operations
Gwen Robinson: Nikkei Asian Review - 3 December 2013
Myanmar is moving to allow the first group of foreign banks to set up wholly owned subsidiaries in the country. This could take place as soon as the first quarter of 2014, ahead of the market expectations. Banking regulators are preparing a phased plan under which foreign entities would first be allowed to conduct wholesale banking services for corporate customers and eventually to hold full branch licenses.
Three to five foreign banks will initially be granted licenses to set up wholesale banking operations in Myanmar, with a view to gaining full branch licenses within two or three years, regulators told two small groups of foreign and local bank officials in November. The chosen banks would be required to focus at first on corporate and trade banking. The banks would be permitted to carry out work in areas including project finance, international remittance, and treasury and trade services for local and international companies, the regulators said.