Aung San Suu Kyi’s Canadian Visit Exposes Media Blind Spots in Reporting Burma

Anyone working for social justice in Burma should be disappointed by the mainstream media’s coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Canada last week. Given ongoing military abuses throughout Burma’s ethnic regions, it was frustrating to see headlines focusing again and again that Canada must press Aung San Suu Kyi regarding her government’s brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslim communities in Rakhine State, while ignoring the plight of other ethnic peoples in Burma.

‘These Bengalis are killing members of their own community’: administrator discusses curfew, stability in northern Rakhine

June 11

The curfew has been extended in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships now eight months after the government launched a counter-insurgency campaign in the area. The evening curfew remains in effect from 9pm through 5am in Maungdaw, and between 10pm and 4am in Buthidaung.

Narinjara News interviewed Maungdaw Township Administrator U Myint Khine to ask about the two-month extension of the night curfew, which was ordered on June 9.

Q: Why has the night curfew been extended in these areas?
A: The reason is a lack of regional stability. These areas don’t have 24-hour electricity. The night curfew was issued as we don’t have full [visibility] at night.

Q: What has caused the instability?
A: Everyone already knows about the incident on October 9 [when an insurgent group staged lethal, pre-dawn attacks on three border guard posts]. After the October 9 incident, there are still killings in the villages at night. You must have heard about the Bengali people who are being killed at night in retaliation for cooperating with the government and relying on the administration. We will need to impose the night curfew as long as these issues continue.

Q: Who is responsible for the killings? Which organizations are they from?
A: The killings are related to the October 9 incident. In the past, there was an insurgent group called the RSO [Rohingya Solidarity Organization]. Now, there is a group called the Arakan something [Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army]. These Bengalis are killing members of their own community.

*Editor’s note: Social media accounts that self-identify as representing ARSA have repeatedly issued denials about attacking civilians.

Q: Have there been any more attacks against security forces?
A: They haven’t attacked the Tatmadaw or the Border Police forces. They are only staging attacks among their own community. They haven’t attacked the [Rakhine] ethnic people, government officials, the Tatmadaw or the police. They are only attacking [Bengalis] who have assisted the government.

Q: What is your opinion about these killings among the Bengalis?
A: I believe they are doing it to disturb the mechanisms of the administration and to attempt to scare the public to prevent further cooperation with the government.

Q: What security measures are being carried out by the township administrators to improve stability in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships?
A: Tatmadaw and Border Police forces continue to operate in these areas. We have been discussing the issue [of the murders] at meetings that are held twice a month. When these incidents happen, we try to find out the truth. But because the murders are happening within their community, we are unable to discern the whole truth. They tend to keep things among themselves. It’s not good for them to be united in such a bad way. Even when they know about someone breaking the law or know who is responsible for the killing, they are very afraid to act as a witness. So, it’s difficult to reveal the truth. We are doing our best but we still need to impose the night curfew as long as instability exists.

Prospect of the Karenni and Mon in the wake of uncertain UNFC’s subsistence

After the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) resignation, followed by the Wa National Organization (WNO), the hitherto United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) members of seven has been left with just five members. And of the remaining five, one of them – the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) – has also joined the Pangkham alliance, also known as Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), together with the KIO and thus the UNFC couldn’t be sure, if the remaining members count would be four or five. But at least for now, it could be counted as five, because the SSPP has not resigned from the UNFC, although at the same time, it is also the Pangkham alliance member.

Who is navigating the peace process ship?

The second round of the Union Peace Conference went ahead in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, from May 24 to 29. During those six days of talks, stakeholders signed partial agreements.

Striking for Peace and political power in Myanmar: Seeking true unity in the struggling Union

There is a once-in-a-lifetime political moment unfolding around us, as the people of Myanmar (Burma) strike for a new status quo of politics and peace. Many of our leaders are fighting for their humanity, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, culture and tribe. After decades of marginalization, resistance leaders and armed ethnic groups have been given a voice to share their alternative political views with the nation and the world at the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference from may 24 to 29.

UNFC possible disintegration and the peace process outlook

The peace process that is scheduled to pick up again on May 24, known as Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong (UPC-21CP), now seems to be further away from being all-inclusive again as the one main ethnic bloc, United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), is beginning to disintegrate starting last month when the Pangkham-initiated, totally new peace approach was launched on April 19, by rejecting the government-led Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)-based peace process that so far has been the only game in town.

Beyond Ethnic Politics in Myanmar

When a truck crashed through a Thanbyuzayat traffic circle last month, destroying a golden Sheldrake sculpture, many Mon people saw their feelings of persecution embodied. The Sheldrake is a symbol of Mon culture and its destruction capped off 100 days of ethnic strain that included the opening of the controversial General Aung San Bridge and a by-election in which ethnic politics was central.

Learning to share: The CSSU Annual Meeting, 4-5 May 2017

Every man is my superior in some way.

In that I learn from him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 It was an honor to attend, observe and advise the Annual meeting of the almost 4 year old Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), the association of 3 political parties, 2 armed resistance armies, and 6 CSOs, in Chiangmai.

Jump-starting the stalled peace process

Introduction: The Contemporary Impasse

With the Union Peace Conference, known as the “21st Century Panglong”, rescheduled to start on 24 May, we are about to revisit some highly sensitive issues in Myanmar’s recent past that were very wrongly handled at the time. If the forthcoming conference is to right the historical wrongs that have since haunted us, it is essential that all sides in our country’s impasse look back to history and re-assess the reasons for the legacies of conflict and state failure that have long held back national progress. Seventy years after the Panglong agreement in February 1947, nation-building is still an unfinished process, ethnic conflict and human rights violations are continuing, and many of the political and economic challenges have deepened after more than half a century of military rule.

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