Feb 13

Burma government and Kachin rebels hold peace talks

Kate Hodal in Rangoon
The Guardian, Monday 4 February 2013

Ethnic Kachin rebels have begun peace talks with the Burmese government in China after recent intense fighting saw the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) lose key positions around its headquarters in Laiza, northern Burma.

Senior negotiators from each side arrived in Ruili, a city on the Chinese border with Kachin state, including Aung Min, a high-ranking minister in the office of Burma’s president, Thein Sein, and the KIA’s second-in-command, General Gun Maw. The general was absent from earlier peace discussions in October, a move seen as a significant blow to the Burmese army.

Monday’s negotiations were also attended by other ethnic rebel groups in Burma, among them Karen and Shan leaders, as well as representatives from the Myanmar Peace Centre, an EU-funded government body that mediates conflict between the Burmese government and the country’s ethnic groups, Khon Ja of the Kachin Peace Network told the Guardian.

After seven hours of talks both sides released a statement saying they would work to calm military tensions, open lines of communication and invite observers to attend their next meeting to be held before the end of February.

The meeting is expected to be the first of many negotiations after 11 rounds of previous peace talks ended without solution.

The KIA, which has been fighting for nearly 50 years for greater autonomy, has repeatedly refused to sign a ceasefire deal until a political agreement is made with the Burmese government. It is the only ethnic group that has not yet signed a peace deal with Thein Sein’s administration.

Heavy fighting between the KIA and Burmese army resumed in July 2011 after 17 years of ceasefire, and is regarded as a serious setback to the economic and political reforms Thein Sein has instituted since taking power. The most violent skirmishes between began in December, when the Burmese army launched heavy artillery and air strikes, and for the first time in five decades used fighter jets and helicopter gunships against guerilla outposts.

Although Thein Sein called for a ceasefire in January, it was almost immediately ignored by the army, raising questions on how much power the president has over the military, which ruled the country for nearly 50 years until a quasi-civilian government was established in 2011.

The Chinese government is central to the mediation between the KIA and Burmese government as China, which shares a border with Kachin state, houses a significant number of Kachin refugees who have fled the fighting. Four mortars fired by the Burmese army also landed on Chinese soil last month.

Whether the peace talks will stop the continued fighting remains to be seen. The latest negotiations came just one day after the Burmese government shelled rebel outposts near Laiza, Khon Ja said, as well as across other parts of the state.

Rights groups say nearly 100,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, with an unknown number of casualties.

Oct 10

Thai PM claims election impasse with Burma

Last Updated: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 10:39:00 +1100

The Thai prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, says he was unable to bridge differences between Burmese rulers and the international community in talks with the junta over next month’s general elections.

Mr Abhisit has just returned from a one-day visit to Burma where he spoke with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein.
Continue reading →

Sep 10

Myanmar election body confirms end of Suu Kyi party: media

Tue Sep 14, 4:01 pm ET

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar’s election body has confirmed the abolition of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party along with nine others ahead of November elections, state media reported Tuesday.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is one of five parties forcibly dissolved after failing to apply to continue their activities, state media announced, quoting the Union Election Commission. Continue reading →

Sep 10

Burma: Should Opposition Parties Boycott the Election?

Tuesday, Sep. 14, 2010


Kaung Myint Htut was just 15 years old when he says Burma’s military intelligence dragged him blindfolded from his home in Rangoon for the third time. It was December 1990, six months after the junta had failed to recognize a landslide election victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Like many young students, Kaung Myint Htut had been unable to contain his objections to the political oppression of the military regime, prompting him to become a student leader involved in regular strikes and demonstrations. “They got mad at me,” he says, recalling how his interrogators advised him to abandon politics between beatings. “But I couldn’t quit.” Continue reading →

Sep 10

China-US thaw will upset neighbouring dictators

BEIJING: China rolled out the red carpet this week not only for Burma’s dictator, General Than Shwe but, more surprisingly, a lower level delegation from the White House.

General Than Shwe thanked his ”most important friendly neighbour” for supporting his coming elections, which China says will boost democracy and some Western nations have decried as a sham to entrench military rule. Continue reading →

Sep 10

Myanmar Seeks Asian Support for Its Ballot


Myanmar’s leader received a warm welcome in meetings with top Chinese officials in what analysts said was an effort to shore up China’s support before Myanmar’s first major election in 20 years.

Although many details of Gen. Than Shwe’s trip weren’t disclosed, it included meetings Thursday with the head of China’s legislature and Premier Wen Jiabao. He also is expected to visit the World Expo in Shanghai and the manufacturing center of Shenzhen. Continue reading →

Sep 10

Myanmar soldiers kill 2 civilians in ‘drunken brawl,’ prompting warning from junta

By The Associated Press (CP)

Myanmar state media warned politicians and foreign media Friday not to misrepresent a recent deadly “drunken brawl” between soldiers and youths as a backlash against the military.

Two young men were shot and killed Sept. 4 when soldiers opened fire on a group of youths during scuffles that followed a traffic accident, the New Light of Myanmar reported Friday. The clash occurred in the city of Bago, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of Yangon. Continue reading →

Aug 10

China overtakes Japan as world’s second-largest economy

• Japanese economy grew by just 0.1% in second quarter
• Figures seen as ‘symbolic’ shift in world power

chinese economy A production line worker at a Shanghai factory. Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy during the second quarter of this year, marking another milestone in the country’s transformation from impoverished communist state to economic superpower. Continue reading →

Aug 10

Burma: Escalate International Pressure Ahead of November 7 Polls

Elections a Blueprint for Continued Military Rule

(New York, August 13, 2010) – The national elections announced by Burma’s military government for November 7 are designed to further entrench military rule with a civilian facade, Human Rights Watch said today. The United Nations, the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and concerned governments should seize Burma’s announcement of the first elections in more than 20 years to exert greater scrutiny over a deeply flawed process and press for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners. Continue reading →

Aug 10

Burmese opposition party threatens to shun polls

One of Burma’s biggest political parties has threatened to pull out of this year’s long-awaited elections if there are signs of foul play by the ruling military in the run-up.

The Union Democracy Party or UDP is considered one of the frontrunners in the opposition camp. Continue reading →

Aug 10

Edinburgh festival comedians stand up for Burmese protester Zarganar

Mark Watson and Josie Long among stars supporting Amnesty International campaign to free jailed Burmese comedian

Burmese comedian Zarganar
‘A comedy Dalai Lama’ … Comedian Zarganar, jailed for 35 years after criticising the Burmese government. Photograph: APEdinburgh comics have come together to support a new Amnesty International campaign to free a comedian jailed for 35 years for criticising the Burmese government. Continue reading →

Aug 10

Elections and Opportunity in Myanmar

Joshua Kurlantzick, Fellow for Southeast Asia

August 3, 2010

Joshua KurlantzickAfter taking office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama decided to use Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as his Asian experiment in reversing Bush administration policy. As it did with Iran and Sudan, the Obama administration engaged with Myanmar’s junta, although it did not push to end sanctions Congress passed in the late 1990s in response to massive human rights abuses. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has made two trips to Myanmar over the past year to try to spur dialogue about critical issues like the upcoming national elections, which will probably take place in late fall. They would be Myanmar’s first since the 1990 polls won by the party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, though the military never allowed that party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to take its seats. Continue reading →

Jun 10

4 killed in Myanmar crash

YANGON (Myanmar) – FOUR people were killed and another was seriously injured when a military helicopter crashed in central Myanmar during bad weather on Wednesday, officials said.
The Mi-1 helicopter came down in jungle near the town of Pindaya in the west of Shan State, a Myanmar official said, declining to be named. Continue reading →

Jun 10

Inside Burma’s black box

Posted By David E. Hoffman Tuesday, June 8, 2010 – 7:08 PM

A former Army major has courageously parted the curtains on what looks like secret efforts at missile and nuclear activity in Burma. Sai Thein Win delivered to a dissident group, the Democratic Voice of Burma, a fascinating cache of color photographs and personal recollections that reinforce the suspicion that the generals who run the country have launched a primitive quest for nuclear weapons. Continue reading →