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Myanmar: Myanmar/Burma - Regional implications of the Rohingya Crisis - ECHO Daily Map | 28/07/2016

28 July 2016 - 11:02pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

Situation

• The Rohingya are the largest stateless group worldwide. There are at least 1 090 000 stateless persons in Myanmar (UNHCR global trends 2015), most of them are Rohingya living in Rakhine state. Rohingyas in Myanmar face severe movement restrictions, lack of access to health care, livelihoods and education and therefore remain extremely dependent on international humanitarian assistance.

• Census of Undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh - there are serious protection and potential human rights concerns surrounding the census. Only basic lifesaving humanitarian assistance is allowed to be provided to Rohingya who are not officially documented as refugees; they are not allowed to work and not entitled to shelter or food assistance. Sexual and gender based violence, trafficking and exploitation alongside serious mental health issues are serious causes of concern.

• In Thailand and Malaysia lack of durable solutions for refugees exposes them to human rights abuses. People engaging in illegal work to survive are at risk of becoming victims of abuse from employers and criminal organisations.

Myanmar: Flooding leaves Sagaing villagers short of drinking water

28 July 2016 - 6:59am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By MIN SIT YE NAING / DVB

Villages in Sagaing Division’s Kalewa Township along the Chindwin River are now experiencing a shortage of clean drinking water amid floods inundating homes and sullying water sources, according to local residents.

“Our village has been inundated since 9 July and now we are experiencing a drinking-water shortage,” said one local man. “Now we have to take a boat to the middle of the river to fetch clean water.”

Adding to their woes, and raising the risk of health problems, he added that many villagers are unable to boil water because of a lack of fuel.

Local charity group Kale Plains Water Assistance Group and the police are working together to distribute clean water in the villages affected by the flooding.

“Several villages along the Chindwin have been inundated amid flooding and this is an extremely worrying situation, as it can lead to an outbreak of a fast-spreading waterborne disease,” said Police Lieutenant-Colonel Tin Zaw Tun of the the Kale District Police Department.

“We are working together with the civilian sector to provide help as much as we can,” he added.

Floods have wreaked havoc in many parts of Sagaing Division and across Burma since the annual rainy season began in early June, causing loss of life and extensive property damage.

Although it is a regular occurrence in many parts of the country, severe flooding has become more common in recent years. According to a World Bank report, Burma’s projected economic growth for last year had to be scaled back from 8.2 to 6.6 percent because of record flooding.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s Armed Ethnic Groups Begin Summit in Kachin State

28 July 2016 - 12:58am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Leaders from 17 of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups discussed the blueprints for a constitution based on a federal democratic union during a summit on Wednesday in the border town of Mai Ja Yang in northern Kachin state, in a run-up to the government’s upcoming peace conference.

The groups, some of which had engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army for decades, called for a political system that grants them federal autonomy during the second day of a four-day summit in Mai Ja Yang, which is on the Myanmar-China border.

“We have studied and prepared the kind of federal union we are going to build, although we don’t know what kind of federal union the government intends to build,” said Naw Si Pho Ra Sein, vice chairwoman of the Karen National Union (KNU).

The groups do not want to write up a new charter from scratch, but rather want to add to or amend basic draft constitution policies that were agreed to by the Federal Constitution Drafting and Coordinating Committee (FCDCC) in 2008 and points that were added by the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in 2015, he said.

The UNFC, which represents the interests of armed groups that did not sign a nationwide cease-fire agreement under the previous government last October.

The current 2008 constitution was drafted by a former military junta that ruled the country for five decades and includes provisions ensuring the army remains a powerful political force in the country.

The FCDCC’s draft constitution, drawn up the same year, proposed the creation of a federal union, multiparty democratic system, minority rights and a secular state.

Security, defense issues

The armed ethnic groups are also discussing security and defense issues and reviewing a framework for political dialogue during the summit, which runs from July 26-29.

“We are going to discuss the political, security and defense sectors,” said General Gwan Maw, vice chairman of the Mai Ja Yang summit committee.

“We will discuss policies on which we mutually agree,” he said. “We mainly expect to have a common agreement on the defense and security sectors in building federal union.”

Of the 21 armed ethnic organizations invited to attend the summit, four decided not to participate—the United Wa State Army (UWSA)—the largest ethnic rebel group in the country–the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), an independent organization not aligned with any ethnic rebel group.

The MNDAA battled Myanmar military troops in the Kokang region in the northern part of Shan State, last year, while the TNLA has engaged in periodic clashes with them during the past year in Shan State, as well as with another ethnic army, the Shan State Army-South.

Plan for permanent peace

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto national leader, believes permanent peace between the armed ethnic groups and the national military is necessary for Myanmar to make progress with its democratic development.

She is leading the efforts to organize a government-led 21st-Century Panglong Peace Conference in late August in the administrative capital Naypyidaw.

The conference takes its name from the original Panglong Conference in 1947 during which Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, promised equal rights and self-determination to ethnic minority groups.

Only eight of Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the previous military-backed government of former president Thein Sein last October.

Reported by Ye Htet for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Ethnic Armed Group Leaders Discuss Formation of a Burman State

28 July 2016 - 12:23am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By LAWI WENG / THE IRRAWADDY

MAI JA YANG, Kachin State — On the second day of a summit in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, ethnic armed group leaders discussed a draft constitution which proposes a single Burman state within a federal union.

Currently, Burma is made up of seven ethnic states—named for the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan—and seven divisions. The proposed change is to combine three of these divisions—in which the majority population in most regions is thought to be Burman—to form a single Burman state. Ethnic minority leaders believe that this will foster more equitable political representation and sharing of resources.

While data from the 2014 census on the size of Burma’s ethnic populations has yet to be released, Burmans, or “Bamar,” have long been considered to comprise around 60 percent of the national population.

Nai Hong Sar, vice chairman of the ethnic armed group coalition United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), explained that ethnic minority leaders have difficulty accepting the current constitutional allowance for Burmans to retain political “control” over seven regions in the country and be allocated what he says are a larger share of resources.

“They [the Burmans] get seven kyats, but our ethnic group has only one state and we will get only one kyat. Therefore, we cannot accept their constitution,” Nai Hong Sar said, explaining how he feels the country’s controversial 2008 Constitution marginalizes ethnic minorities.

“Based on our current draft, Mandalay, Magwe and Pegu [divisions] will become a state for Burmans,” he said, adding that, “We all should all be equal.”

Ethnic armed group leaders adopted a draft federal constitution in Feb. 2008, after forming the Federal Constitution Drafting and Coordinating Committee (FCDCC). Burma’s current constitution—also ratified in 2008—was written by the country’s former military government and ratified by a nationwide referendum widely considered fraudulent.

The constitution has been extensively criticized for entrenching the armed forces’ presence in the legislature, for barring now-State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency, and for granting little autonomy to ethnic states.

Burma’s seven divisions are listed in the 2008 Constitution as Rangoon, Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay, Irrawaddy, Pegu and Tenasserim. The FCDCC recommends that Rangoon, Sagaing, Tenasserim and Irrawaddy divisions—which have large ethnic minority populations—instead become what they term as “nationalities states.”

Nai Soe Myint, a senior leader from Mon National Party agreed with the proposed change. “For example, the ethnic Chin nationality lives [also] in Sagaing Division. The division does not only have Burman people. This is why we will call Sagaing a ‘nationalities state,’” he said.

Gen Bee Htoo, chief of the Karenni National Progressive Party and a senior UNFC leader, said that a federal system “based on nationalities” would solve many of the country’s problems stemming from what has long been perceived as Burman domination of political affairs, institutions and culture.

Not all were in agreement, however. The Restoration Council of Shan State—whose armed wing is known as the Shan State Army-South, and claims defend ethnic Shan interests—objected to the idea of Shan State being called a “nationalities state.” Shan State covers a large area of exceptional pluralism—in addition to the Shan it is home to considerable numbers of ethnic Palaung (Ta’ang), Pa-O, Wa and Kachin, among many other groups, and a significant population of Chinese descent.

Three groups absent from the meeting were the United Wa State Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—all of which are active in Shan State, leading some ethnic delegates, including Bee Htoo, to recommend further discussion for a future “nationalities state” in the region. Other ethnic leaders present at the summit have suggested centering future talks around a “federal Shan State” instead, but clarified that such discussions remain in the early stages.

Naw Zipporah Sein, the vice chairperson of the Karen National Union (KNU), said that additional changes have been made to the FCDCC’s alternative draft constitution up through 2015.

“We will discuss and analyze the draft today. Then, if we need to, we could add more to it and approve it at this meeting,” she said on Tuesday at the Mai Ja Yang summit.

She added that the representatives from 17 groups present at the event would focus on discussing how to most effectively participate in the upcoming Union Peace Conference—slated to be held in late August in Naypyidaw.

“It is important for us to establish common ground,” Zipporah Sein said. “One group alone cannot build a federal union, or peace. We will only succeed in reaching our goal when all groups are included: political parties, democratic forces, and our armed forces,” she said.

The UNFC’s Nai Hong Sar said that current events have forced the Burma Army, which has long opposed the political aspirations of ethnic nationalities, to be more open to their demands.

“In the past, the Burma Army was opposed to federalism, but not anymore—they accept it now. They are worried that our ethnic groups will secede from the country. But no one is asking to secede—we just ask for our future federal system to have democracy, equal rights and self-determination. We just ask for this,” he said.

Thailand: Myanmar: Refugee and IDP Camp Populations: June 2016

27 July 2016 - 10:57pm
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

World: Scale up efforts against hepatitis

27 July 2016 - 6:19am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

By Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia

Hepatitis is preventable and treatable but continues to be an acute public health challenge globally and in countries of WHO South-East Asia Region. Viral hepatitis kills approximately 350 000 people every year in the Region. It is responsible for more deaths than HIV and malaria together, and is second only to tuberculosis as a major cause of death among communicable diseases. Globally, and in the Region the number of deaths due to viral hepatitis is increasing. There is a need for immediate and urgent action to arrest the spread of hepatitis.

In the South-East Asia Region, viral hepatitis is driving rates of liver cancer and cirrhosis, and is causing premature death and disease with over 100 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C. These numbers are unacceptable as there is an effective vaccine and treatment for hepatitis B, and over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be cured with treatment.

One of the main challenges to addressing hepatitis is that 95% of people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected and less than 1% have access to treatment. To address these issues, people and countries need to be better equipped and enabled to "know hepatitis" and "act now" – the theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day.

One of the main reasons for complication due to hepatitis B is mother-to-child transmission, which can be prevented by administering the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth, followed by two to three doses in the first six months of life.

Safe injections, blood transfusions and other healthcare procedures can further prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C among health care consumers, while promoting hygienic and clean food and water can reduce the risk of hepatitis A and E infection.

Increasing access to hepatitis testing is key to scaling up hepatitis treatment and care. WHO is releasing its first hepatitis testing guidelines this year which provides guidance on who should be tested, and recommends simple testing strategies to help scale up hepatitis testing, treatment and care.

Adequate use of the existing powerful tools and new guidelines can help prevent and treat hepatitis. National strategies and action plans should optimally utilize these tools and step up efforts at all levels to address the growing threat of hepatitis.

At the World Health Assembly this year, WHO adopted the Global Health Sector Strategy for Hepatitis that calls for eliminating hepatitis by 2030. The SDG 3.3 includes specific mention of the need to strengthen efforts to combat hepatitis. The World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to review and reiterate our commitment and resolve to eliminate hepatitis and save lives.

WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises the following 11 Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Media Contacts

Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Myanmar: Myanmar: Flood Warning (Issued at 13:00 hr M.S.T on 26-7-2016)

26 July 2016 - 11:37am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

According to the (14:30) hrs M.S.T observation today, the water level of Ayeyarwaddy River at Zalun is observed as about (½) foot  below its danger level. It may reach its danger level during the next (3) Days.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas in Zalun Township, to take precaution measure.

Myanmar: WFP Myanmar Country Brief, June 2016

26 July 2016 - 9:53am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

Highlights

  • From July onwards, WFP will start ration reduction for relatively better-off IDPs in northern Shan, who have access to additional income sources.

  • WFP will discontinue relief assistance for 2,800 better-off Kokang returnees.

Operational Updates

  • According to results of the prioritisation exercise to discern the most vulnerable families among IDPs assisted by WFP’s Lashio area office, unconditional relief assistance will be discontinued for 25 percent of 9,800 IDPs with access to additional income sources.
    Moreover, assistance will be reduced by half for 19 percent of total IDPs, who were found to be better-off, in four camps. WFP’s Lashio office currently assists IDPs in five townships of northern Shan State and Mansi Township of Kachin State.

  • Based on people assisted retargeting exercise, 2,800 better-off Kokang returnees, who are currently benefiting from WFP’s relief operation, were identified for discontinuation of assistance. WFP’s relief operation was scaled down in the southern part, where overall situation has returned to normalcy, while advancing to the northern part, where security situation has remained precarious. WFP will continue to provide to 5,455 returnees in the northern part, and retargeting is expected to be conducted after three months.

  • In early June, monsoonal rains caused flooding in Rakhine State and Sagaing Region. Based on a rapid assessment undertaken on 10-11 June, food stocks in two flood-affected townships in Sagaing Region were found sufficient and affected families were also provided with cooked meals through public donations.
    In Rakhine State, preliminary findings also suggested public donation of rice and staple foods were sufficient for one month. Hence, no urgent need for food assistance in both areas was identified.

  • All evacuation camps in Chin State, which was one of the most flood-affected zones in Myanmar, were closed by the end of May. Subject to continued food needs if identified by further assessment, cash-based transfers will be introduced to support livelihood resumption of households displaced by localised landslides generated by the 2015 floods.

  • In June, Global Fund granted USD 444,000 for WFP’s HIV programme. WFP is assisting 6,600 people living with HIV and TB clients in Kachin, Magway, northern Rakhine, northern Shan, Southeast, Yangon and Wa.

Myanmar: Thailand/Myanmar: Top 5 Townships in Top 5 States - Places of Origin (June 2016)

26 July 2016 - 5:26am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Myanmar: GIEWS Country Brief: Myanmar 25-July-2016

26 July 2016 - 4:12am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Myanmar

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Early outlook favourable for 2016 main paddy crop
  • Rice exports in 2016 expected close to last year’s level
  • Prices of rice decreased in early July, but remain high
  • Floods for second consecutive year severely affected large number of people, especially in Chin and Rakhine states

Early outlook favourable for 2016 main paddy crop

Planting of the 2016 main (monsoon) paddy crop, which accounts for 85 percent of the annual production, is ongoing. The monsoon rains started on time in late May and progressed generally well over most of the country, benefiting planting activities and early crop development. Excessive precipitation in parts of Ayeyarwady, Bago, Sagaing regions and in Chin and Rakhine states triggered localized flooding in early June, but the impact on early‑planted crops is expected to be minimal overall. Assuming normal growing conditions prevail, FAO forecasts 2016 aggregate paddy production to recover from last year’s flood‑reduced level by 2 percent to 28 million tonnes.

Paddy production declined in 2015

FAO estimates the 2015 aggregate paddy output at 27.5 million tonnes, 3 percent below the 2014 already reduced level. The decrease mainly results from a smaller main season harvest, negatively affected by floods in July and August 2015.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Flood Bulletin (Issued at 13:00 hr M.S.T on 25-7-2016)

26 July 2016 - 12:11am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

1. Flood condition above danger levels

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water level of Chindwin River at Hkamti has exceeded by about (5½) feet above its danger level, it may remain above its danger level during the next (3) days.

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water level of Ngawun River at Ngathaing Chaung has exceeded by about (1½) feet above its danger level, it may remain above its danger level during the next (5) days.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas along the Ngawun River, to take precaution measure.

2. Rising condition above danger levels

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water level of Ayeyarwaddy River at Shwegu has exceeded by about (½) foot above its danger level. It may continue to rise about (1½) feet during the next (2) days and may remain above its danger level.

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water levels have exceeded by about (3) feet at Homalin, about (3½) feet at Phaungpyin, about (4) feet at Mawlaik, about (1½) feet each at Kalewa and Kani, about (1) foot at Mingin of Chindwin River above their respective danger levels. The water levels may continue to rise about (1) foot at Homalin, about (1½) feet each at Phaungpyin, Mawlaik and Kalewa, about (1) foot at Minkin and about (½) foot at Kani during the next (2) days, may remain above their respective danger levels.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas along the Chindwin River to avert due to the rise of water levels.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s Upper House Passes Motion to Combat Drug Gangs in Shan State

25 July 2016 - 9:47pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Myanmar’s upper house of parliament on Monday unanimously approved a motion submitted by an ethnic Shan lawmaker to combat rampant illegal drug sales and use in impoverished northern Myanmar's Shan state.

Sai One Hlaing Kham, a deputy from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party, submitted the proposal to take more effective action against drug gangs who sell heroin and methamphetamine, an extremely addictive stimulant in the form of a white, bitter-tasting crystalline powder, commonly sold as “yaba” tablets.

“There are many drug gangs and users not only in the towns, but also in the villages, and there is especially a lot of heroin and yaba, or methamphetamine, in the region,” Sai One Hlaing Kham said.

“When people report the gangs and users, police arrest and take action against the dealers and users,” he said. “They disappear for a short time after they are arrested, but then they come back again.”

People in Shan state use methamphetamine because they believe it will help them to work longer hours, he said.

Sai One Hlaing Kham also proposed building a rehabilitation center for drug users with Shan state budget funds.

Mandalay’s antidrug campaign

In a related development, police in Mandalay region began an antidrug campaign on Monday to arrest major drug dealers—an operation involving more than 300 officers in Pyi Gyi Tagon, Aung Myay Tharzan, and Pathein Gyi townships, a police official said.

Police Colonel Han Tun said the operation is one of the “100 Days” priority reform programs under the new civilian-led government of President Htin Kyaw.

“We received some reports about drug users, and we have to investigate them,” he said.

So far, authorities have arrested and charged five people who entered empty houses to inject heroin in Pyi Gyi Tagon township, but they failed to arrest any drug sellers or dealers, he said.

“We investigate people when we receive letters and phone reports, and we also do surprise checks,” he said.

In March, more than 36 billion-kyat (U.S. $30.5 million) worth of heroin and methamphetamine was found in Pyi Gyi Tagon township, he said.

Opium in Kachin state

Shan state and Mandalay region are not the only areas of Myanmar that suffer from the illegal narcotics trade.

In February, Myanmar’s lower house of parliament passed an emergency motion submitted by lawmaker Lagan Zai Jung, calling on the government to encourage and support public participation in drug eradication campaigns in northern Myanmar's Kachin state.

Heroin and yaba are openly sold in Kachin, Tin Soe, a lawmaker representing the state’s Hpakant constituency, told parliament at the time.

The emergency motion was submitted following Feb. 25 attacks by unknown assailants on members of the antidrug activist group Pat Jasan as they attempted to destroy opium poppy fields in the Kanpaiktee and Sadon areas of the state.

Farmers, local militias and corrupt government officials who profit from the multibillion-dollar trade in opium and heroin oppose the group’s activities.

Myanmar is the world’s second-biggest producer of opium after Afghanistan, with most of its poppies, which are used for opium and heroin, grown in Kachin and Shan states.

Reported by Win Ko Ko Latt and Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: ANP Alleges Govt ‘Wrongly’ Issued Citizenship in Arakan State

25 July 2016 - 9:08pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By Moe Myint

RANGOON – The Arakan National Party (ANP) and several Arakanese legal experts held a press conference on Sunday alleging that Burma’s previous government had wrongly issued citizenship documents to over 1,000 Muslims in Arakan State’s Myebon Township.

The Arakanese political and legal representatives say that the 97 individuals issued Citizenship Scrutiny Cards—or “pink cards,” which denote full citizenship—and 917 people granted naturalized citizenship, received these statuses in violation of Burma’s controversial 1982 Citizenship Law.

Several ANP leaders said that the main purpose of the press conference was to draw attention to what they allege are similarities between the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s current practices regarding citizenship verification and those of the former military-backed administration.

The ANP is instead calling for stricter verification measures; the party has been active in lobbying to uphold the 1982 Citizenship Law, which has been condemned by the United Nations and the international community as being discriminatory against minorities, including Muslims.

As part of a citizenship verification process initiated in June 2014 by ex-president Thein Sein’s government—under the “Rakhine State Action Plan”—former Arakan State Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn led a team that examined 2,900 applicants who applied for citizenship in Sittwe District’s Myebon Township. These individuals largely belonged to Muslim minorities in the region, including ethnic Kaman and Rohingya.

In December of that year, Arakanese Buddhist residents of Myebon shut their houses and businesses in protest during Maung Maung Ohn’s visit to the township to show their dissatisfaction with the practices of the citizenship scrutiny committee. This caused the government to swiftly suspend the process, which only resumed in May this year.

Thar Pwint, a former lawyer as well as a member of the citizenship scrutiny committee, said the committee was formed of eight people, including six government officials from the township level.

At the press conference, he said that the committee had reportedly checked only the following points at the township level committee: whether the applicants had reached the age of 18, if they were mentally sound, and if they could fluently speak one of the ethnic languages of Burma.

[Although the 1982 Citizenship Law contains the latter provision, it does not list what the ethnic, or “national,” languages actually are—neither does the 2008 Constitution.]

He acknowledged that, at the time, he was not familiar with Burma’s citizenship and immigration laws, even though immigration department officials had distributed pamphlets to the committee members outlining Burma’s three categories of citizenship, as outlined in the 1982 law: full, naturalized and associate.

Thar Pwint alleged that government manipulation of the law “created loopholes for Bengalis,” using a term employed widely throughout Arakan State and elsewhere in Burma to describe the group which self-identifies as Rohingya; “Bengali” implies that the Rohingya are interlopers from Bangladesh, a claim which they reject.

At the press conference, ANP representatives, including party chairman Aye Maung, described an interpretation of the 1982 Citizenship Law focused heavily on articles 42 and 6.

Article 42 states that individuals can obtain naturalized citizenship by demonstrating evidence that they or their parents or grandparents entered Burma before 1948, the year the country gained its independence from Britain.

Article 6 states that those considered citizens at the time the 1982 law came into effect will remain as such, and their status cannot be revoked unless it is found that an individual has attained it under “false representation”—naturalized and associate citizenship can, however, be revoked by the central government on a range of vague pretexts, including “showing disaffection or disloyalty to the State.”

Kyaw Zaw Oo, an ANP lawmaker in the state legislature, argued that according to these measures, applicants for citizenship whose predecessors entered Burma after 1948 are not eligible for any form of citizenship. He pointed out that the previous government’s implementation committee did, however, give “pink cards” [denoting full citizenship] to people who did not meet this criterion, thereby “breaching procedure.”

The Irrawaddy asked ANP vice chairwoman Aye Nu Sein whether the ANP had a plan to address the citizenship status of around 1 million stateless Muslims in Arakan State, approximately 130,000 of whom remain displaced after violence in 2012 and 2013. Echoing other members of the ANP leadership, she said that the only option was adherence to the 1982 Citizenship Law, which she said would provide them with basic rights and greater freedom of movement, without elaborating on how this would be carried out.

“All we want is to keep implementing in line with 1982,” Aye Nu Sein said in reference to the law, adding that the reporter should “not make allusions.”

NLD patron Tin Oo was among party members who attended the event, but he declined to comment. On Monday, both the Arakan State Chief Minister Nyi Pu and Win Lwin, the head of the Population and Immigration Department in Arakan State, could not be reached for comment.

Cambodia: Lower Mekong Initiative Launches "Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership"

25 July 2016 - 2:18pm
Source: US Department of State Country: Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 25, 2016

On July 25, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry led the United States’ delegation to the Ninth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. Established at the July 2009 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) annual meetings, LMI seeks to narrow the development gap between the five Lower Mekong countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the rest of ASEAN.

At their annual gathering, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of developing sustainable infrastructure to help promote economic development, environmental conservation, and climate resilience in the Lower Mekong. Responding to the Mekong’s worst drought in 90 years, Ministers recognized the urgency and gravity of multinational collaboration on sustainable infrastructure development. This year’s meeting marked the formal launch of the “Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership,” a training platform for LMI officials to accomplish two main goals. First, the Partnership will provide a vehicle for LMI countries to identify training deficiencies that can be addressed through future programming. In addition, it will establish a mechanism for coordinating among the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) to streamline the planning process and improve efficiency. Through this program, the United States and FLM partners will collaborate to facilitate complementary capacity-building trainings in LMI countries.

Under LMI, the United States has worked to strengthen our cooperation with the Lower Mekong region. We have in partnership with LMI and FLM members addressed a number of critical development challenges in the Mekong region. Through the U.S-Singapore Third Country Program founded in 2012, the United States has trained over 800 ASEAN officials on topics ranging from cyber-crime to water management. In September of last year, the U.S. launched a women’s business center in Cambodia and will be launching a second in Vietnam this year. The business centers provide women entrepreneurs access to workshops, mentor networks, and academic trainings. Through the Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong program (SIM), U.S. government experts have worked hand-in-hand with local ministries to overcome challenges related to infrastructure development, operations, and environmental impact mitigation.

The Master Plan of Action to Implement Lower Mekong Initiative 2016-2020 emphasizes the cross-cutting areas of the water, energy, and food security nexus and gender equality and women’s empowerment, in addition to the six programmatic areas of focus (“pillars”): agriculture and food security; connectivity; education; energy security; environment and water; and health. The new “Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership” initiative will complement LMI and FLM efforts in the region to date.

LMI Signature Programs include:

Connect Mekong– promotes regional economic integration and the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2016 by fostering trade, entrepreneurship, and innovation;

Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM)– a technical and scientific assistance program for environmentally sound, socially equitable infrastructure, clean energy, and land and water use;

Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training (COMET) – a workforce development project implemented in partnership with major technology companies that strengthens educational institutions in increasing the number of skilled workers in ASEAN priority sectors.

Professional Communication Skills for Leaders (PCSL)– develops the proficiency of regional teachers for English language instruction in technical areas related to the LMI Pillars;

Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) – a women’s entrepreneurship project that provides safe spaces for women to access education, tools, and resources to start and scale their businesses; and

One Health Program- promotes early detection and response to diseases in animals before becoming threats to human health, and enhances regional capacity for disease prevention, detection, and response across human and animal health, and the environment.

Summary

Now in its seventh year, LMI has assisted member nations in building governmental and civil society capacities. LMI has also facilitated critical multinational collaboration through programs like the U.S-Singapore Third Country Program and Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong. At this year’s meeting, the Ministers formally launched the “Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership” initiative, a new platform to improve infrastructure sustainability in the Mekong sub-region through complementary capacity-building activities supported by regional donors. Through its six Pillars, LMI has responded to regional development challenges, a role which will be especially critical now as the Mekong River faces a severe drought. An overview of LMI is available at the Lower Mekong Initiative website www.lowermekong.org and www.facebook.com/lowermekong.

World: Rapport Annuel 2014

25 July 2016 - 1:41pm
Source: World Vision Country: Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Ethiopia, Mali, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Senegal, Viet Nam, World

En 2014, plus de 527 400 personnes ont pu être aidées dans nos 14 programmes de développement.

Autant de vies changées, comme celle d’Aye qui a pu retrouver le chemin de l’école au Myanmar. Elle bénéficie des cours du soir mis en place par Vision du Monde, pour les enfants qui travaillent la journée afin d’aider leurs parents. Ce programme est une véritable opportunité pour Aye. Elle apprend à écrire, lire, compter, et peut maintenant espérer un avenir meilleur.

Chaque année, grâce à vos dons, vous redonnez espoir à des milliers d’enfants. Découvrez dans notre rapport annuel les actions menées en 2014 ainsi que les témoignages des enfants qui, chaque jour, voient leur destin changer grâce à vous.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Flood Bulletin (Issued at 13:00 hr M.S.T on 22-7-2016)

22 July 2016 - 3:59am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

(1) Flood condition above danger level

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water level of Ngawun River at Ngathaing Chaung has exceeded by about (1½) feet above its danger level, it may remain above its danger level during the next (5) days.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas along the Ngawun River, to take precaution measure.

(2) Rising condition above danger levels

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water levels have exceeded by about (2½) feet at Mawlaik and (½) foot at Kani of Chindwin River above their respective danger levels. The water levels may continue to rise about (½) foot each at Mawlaik during the next (1) day and at Kani during the next (2) days, and may remain above their respective danger levels.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas in Mawlaik and Kani Township, to take precaution measure.

Myanmar: Flood Bulletin (Issued at 13:00 hr M.S.T on 22-7-2016)

22 July 2016 - 3:59am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

(1) Flood condition above danger level

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water level of Ngawun River at Ngathaing Chaung has exceeded by about (1½) feet above its danger level, it may remain above its danger level during the next (5) days.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas along the Ngawun River, to take precaution measure.

(2) Rising condition above danger levels

According to the (12:30) hr M.S.T observation today, the water levels have exceeded by about (2½) feet at Mawlaik and (½) foot at Kani of Chindwin River above their respective danger levels. The water levels may continue to rise about (½) foot each at Mawlaik during the next (1) day and at Kani during the next (2) days, and may remain above their respective danger levels.

It is especially advised to the people who settle near the river bank and low lying areas in Mawlaik and Kani Township, to take precaution measure.

Myanmar: Rights Group Calls on Myanmar Government to Try Soldiers in Civilian Courts

22 July 2016 - 1:42am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

By Roseanne Gerin

An international rights group called on the Myanmar government on Wednesday to try national army soldiers who killed five unarmed civilians in volatile northern Shan state last month in a civilian court to ensure justice for victims of human rights abuses by the armed forces.

A battalion of soldiers, who arrived in Yong Maw subtownship on June 25 looking for Shan rebel troops, shot dead five villagers during an interrogation near a cornfield where some of them were working and dumped their bodies in shallow graves.

They also deposited the bodies of two young men they shot who were passing through the area on motorbikes and failed to stop at a checkpoint.

The seven were from the Shan or Palaung (Ta'ang) ethnic minority groups who live in Shan state.

The military, in a rare admission of wrongdoing, said Wednesday that some of its soldiers had killed the five villagers, but did not take responsibility for the deaths of the other two men.

Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo, Myanmar’s chief of military intelligence, told a press conference in the commercial capital Yangon that the army is investigating the cases of the seven deaths and will try the soldiers who killed the five civilians in a court martial.

In response, London-based Amnesty International issued a statement urging the national government to ensure the military is held accountable for human rights abuses and to make those who commit them stand trial in a civilian court.

“This case is an important reminder of the need to reform the military and judicial systems in Myanmar,” said Rafendi Djamin, director for South East Asia and the Pacific, in a statement.

“Although it is important that steps are taken to ensure those responsible for serious human rights violations are held to account, military tribunals are not the solution,” he said.

“The authorities in Myanmar must take immediate action to ensure that human rights violators can be effectively tried before independent, civilian courts—anything less would only serve to perpetuate the cycle of impunity,” he said.

Willing to cooperate

The killings come at a time when Myanmar’s powerful army has indicated a willingness to participate in the government’s peace conference in late August with various armed ethnic rebel groups.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto national leader, has made peace and national reconciliation a key goal of her civilian-led administration, which came to power in April.

The military and eight armed ethnic groups agreed to end hostilities in a nationwide cease-fire agreement signed last October under the previous army-backed government, though other rebel armies were excluded or refused to participate.

But rights groups believe that Myanmar’s military needs to undergo reform to keep in step with the country’s continued democratic development.

A military junta ruled Myanmar for five decades until 2011, and continues to control a quarter of the seats in parliament as well as three key defense and security ministries. It has also continued to engage in battles with armed ethnic rebels groups in Shan state and elsewhere.

Rights groups have accused both government troops and ethnic rebel soldiers of human rights violations in Shan state, including kidnapping, torturing, and killing civilians and forcing them to work as laborers.

Victims of human rights abuses perpetrated by the military are often fearful of speaking out.

“While it’s positive that the authorities are investigating this case, the reality is that all too often victims and their families are denied access to justice, truth and reparations, and have faced reprisals when reporting cases of military abuse,” Djamin said about the killings in Yong Maw.

“This has to stop and Myanmar’s new government must make it clear that no one is above the law,” he said.

Denying involvement

After villagers discovered the corpses on June 30, the government army denied any involvement, and the military-owned news outlet Myawaddy issued a report saying that the bodies belonged to Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) rebels.

The TNLA—one of the armed ethnic groups that still engages in clashes with the Myanmar army in Shan state—was excluded from signing the peace pact last October because of ongoing hostilities with the Myanmar army.

Fighting in the state between the national army and ethnic insurgents has displaced thousands of people.

Nevertheless, a Myanmar army deputy regional commander visited the families of the five victims in Mong Yaw in early July and gave each a “donation” of 300,000 kyat (U.S. $257).

The parents of the two brothers who were shot on their motorbikes have filed a missing persons report with police in Lashio township to start an official investigation of the incident.

Thailand: Thailand Border Operation: RTG/MOI-UNHCR Verified Refugee Population, 30 June 2016

22 July 2016 - 1:31am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Thailand: RTG/MOI-UNHCR Verified Refugee Population, 30 June 2016

22 July 2016 - 1:31am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand