Category Archives: Human Rights

Myanmar-China (2+2) high-level consultations held

The Second Round of Myanmar and China (2+2) High-Level Consultations led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence was held on 7th February 2017 in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. The meeting was attended by the Myanmar Delegation led by U Kyaw Tin, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Lt. Gen. Tun Tun Naung, Ministry of Defence and the Chinese Delegation was led by Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice- Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Major General Shao Yuanming, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission.

During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on border related issues focusing on China’s constructive support for the peace process of Myanmar, promoting peace and tranquility along Myanmar-China border, stabilization of the situation of Northern Myanmar, confidence-building measures and development of border areas to promote the interests of the population in these areas.

Moreover, the two sides agreed, among others, to step up collaboration through bilateral mechanisms and cooperation in various areas such as Myanmar- China border management, combating narcotic drugs, and preventing illegal entries and illegal trade; to adhere to the Boundary Treaty in constructing river banks maintenance works to prevent river banks erosion along the Boundary Rivers and to jointly develop guidelines for construction of retaining walls along the river banks.

On 8th February 2017, the Minister of State called on Mr. Chen Hao, Communist Party Secretary of Yunnan Province at Haigeng Garden Hotel and discussed in a friendly and cordial manner on various issues including promoting peace and stability along the border areas and strengthening bilateral cooperation for border areas development. Following the meeting, Myanmar Delegation attended the dinner hosted by Mr. Chen Shun, Vice-Governor of Yunnan Province.

The (2+2) High-Level Consultations Meeting led by Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence at the central level was established aim at strengthening the cooperation in security and management in the Myanmar-China border areas more effectively. The First Myanmar and China (2+2) High-Level Consultations led by Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence was previously held on 25th November 2016 in Nay Pyi Taw.

Source: Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Two Rival Ethnic Militias Clash in Myanmar’s War-torn Shan State

Soldiers from two of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups clashed on Monday near Thibaw township in volatile northern Shan state, though no one was injured or killed, said an officer from one of the militias and a state parliamentarian.

The hostilities occurred between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in an area where both ethnic Shan and Palaung (Ta’ang) groups live, Major Mine Aik Kyaw of the TNLA said.

“We had two fights with the RCSS today in Pankhataund village in Thibaw township,” he said. “Another fight occurred in Manlwe village in Thibaw township.”

Mine Aik Kyaw also said a battle was under way between government armed forces and the TNLA in the town of Kutkai.

“We heard there is fighting between the RCSS and TNLA in Thibaw township, but no one was killed or injured,” said Shan state assembly legislator Sai Tun Nyan of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party who represents the town of Kyaukme.

The RCSS/SSA has also engaged in periodic skirmishes with the Myanmar army, the latest of which occurred Friday near Shan state’s capital Taunggyi.

Fighting between the two militias broke out in late November 2015, about six weeks after the signing of the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) between the government and eight of the country’s more than 20 ethnic armed groups.

The RCSS, the political organization that oversees the SSA, is a signatory to the NCA, but the TNLA is not.

After the RCSS signed the accord, Myanmar army forces teamed up with it and launched the offensive against the holdout TNLA in Shan state.

Northern Alliance

The TNLA recently joined a coalition of four ethnic armed groups engaged in hostilities with Myanmar’s armed forces in war-torn Shan state.

On Nov. 20, The Northern Alliance, which includes the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in the Muse township villages of Mong Ko and Pang Zai, the 105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China, and areas of Namkham and Kutkai townships.

The attacks triggered a new round of intensified fighting with government troops that has displaced thousands of residents.

Government army soldiers seized the KIA mountaintop Gidon outpost in Waingmaw township in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state during the weekend with both sides suffering casualties, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported on Monday.

The government army also captured a KIA outpost about eight kilometers (five miles) north of Gidon on Saturday afternoon, the report said.

The Northern Alliance and the government’s Peace Commission are discussing a date on which to hold peace talks. A previous round of talks in November failed.

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Myanmar Army Has Not Violated Regulations in Rakhine: Investigation Commission

Myanmar’s government is “following the law” in the country’s conflict-ridden Rakhine state, the chairman of an investigation commission examining the behavior of the military during security operations in Muslim-majority areas said on Wednesday, amid ongoing accusations that soldiers committed atrocities among civilians.

Vice President Myint Swe, who heads the 13-member commission probing a series of deadly militant attacks on security forces that occurred on Oct. 9 and Nov. 12 and 13, said the national army is carrying out area-clearing operations in accordance with existing rules and regulations, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the State Counselor’s Office.

Local Rohingya Muslims have accused security forces that swept into northern Rakhine’s Maungdaw township following the initial attacks of murder, torture, rape and arson.

The violence has left nearly 90 dead and forced about 27,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.

Myint Swe’s comments came after the commission ended a trip to Maungdaw township, where they visited Kyet-yo-byin village to investigate cases of rape and child murders, as reported by two foreign news organizations, the statement said.

Villagers told the commission they had no knowledge of the crimes and that military commanders in the area said there were no rapes reported and that they were carrying out their tasks in accordance with the law, it said.

Release those detained

Rohingya villagers also told the commission members they wanted family members detained for questioning by security forces to be released if they have not yet been charged with a crime.

Commission members told them that the government had released 49 detainees since clashes with militants began, the statement said.

The government has previously said that nearly 90 were killed in the violence and almost 600 people believed to be involved in the attacks had been arrested.

The Myanmar government has come under fire both internationally and regionally for its handling of the Rakhine crisis and what is perceived to be its failure to protect the Rohingya.

Rohingya who live in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan have staged protests in recent weeks against the Myanmar government, which views the Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The government has denied reports of atrocities by the military and has called an emergency meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting next week to discuss the crisis.

The estimated 1.1 million Rohingya in Rakhine-about 120,000 of whom are confined to internally displaced persons camps-are denied citizenship and access to jobs, health care, and education.

A history without the Rohingya

In a related move, Myanmar’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture will publish a history asserting that the Rohingya are not among the country’s indigenous races, the ministry’s deputy director Arkar Kyaw said.

The news, which the ministry posted on Facebook on Monday, has gained widespread support from people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The ministry will enlist the help of Myanmar history scholars and require approval from President Htin Kyaw and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi when the project is completed, said Minister Thura Aung Ko.

Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law excluded the Rohingya from country’s list of 135 national races and stripped them of the citizenship they had enjoyed in the years after the country then known as Burma gained independence from Britain.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Myanmar Journalist Found Beaten to Death in Monywa

A journalist from Myanmar’s Eleven Media Group who was reporting on illegal logging and wood smuggling in the northwestern part of the country was found dead on Tuesday on the side of a highway in the town of Monywa, a police official said.

Soe Moe Tun, 35, the news organization’s reporter in the town of Monywa in the country’s Sagaing region, was found with injuries that appeared to indicate he had been beaten, police said.

“The injuries are on his face and head,” said Thein Swe Myint, commander of the Monywa police station.

“We have already begun our investigations in the area,” he said. “We opened the case as a murder under section 302 [of the criminal code],” which pertains to crimes punishable by death.

Though police believe Soe Moe Tun was murdered, they have not identified a suspect or a motive, the Myanmar Times reported.

Soe Moe Tun had worked as a reporter in Monywa since January 2015, reporting news about the town and its surrounding areas, according to a statement issued by Eleven Media Group.

“Eleven Media Group is doing necessary work concerning the death of Soe Moe Tun and [has] urged the respective police station to investigate the case as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

His death marks the fifth killing of a journalist in Myanmar since 1999.

Threats and lawsuits

The Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN), a nationwide professional group, issued a statement expressing its condolences to Soe Moe Tun’s family and urging authorities to investigate his death as a murder.

The MJN also noted that Tin Zaw Oo, a journalist based on Thabeikkyin in central Myanmar’s Mandalay region, had been threatened by illegal logging traders within the last two months and had to move to another town with his family.

Despite the lifting of restrictions on Myanmar’s media in 2012 under former president Thein Sein, journalists still receive threats and can be subject to lawsuits for writing about controversial people or illegal activities.

On Nov. 30, a Myanmar court denied bail for Than Htut Aung, chief executive officer of Eleven Media Group, and Wai Phyo, chief editor of the Daily Eleven newspaper, who had been arrested on defamation charges because of controversial article in the country’s telecommunication’s law.

They were sued for writing and publishing an editorial that claimed that Phyo Min Thein, chief minister of Yangon, wore a luxury watch worth an estimated U.S. $100,000, given to him by an unnamed drug tycoon.

The tycoon, who had recently been released from jail, had been awarded a lucrative tender to build a city transit project.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

U.N. Envoy Urges Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi to Visit Crisis-Ridden Rakhine State

A United Nations envoy on Friday urged Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to visit two townships in northern Rakhine state where the international organization says security forces may have committed human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims.

Vijay Nambiar, the U.N. secretary-general’s special advisor on Myanmar, issued a statement on Friday emphasizing the international body’s concerns about the situation in the state where government army soldiers conducted security sweeps following deadly attacks on three border guard posts on Oct. 9.

The soldiers have been accused of killing civilians, raping women, and setting homes ablaze in Rohingya villages in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

The violence has killed nearly 90 people and forced more than 20,000 Rohingya to flee their homes and try to cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

“Meanwhile, people of all communities in Myanmar must jointly oppose the violence, disunity and division that are being instigated by a small group of criminal elements in the region,” Nambiar said in the statement.

“I also appeal to Daw Suu to visit Maungdaw and Buthidaung and reassure the civilian population there that they will be protected,” he said.

“I call upon Daw [honorific] Aung San Suu Kyi to reflect on the situation and, as she has done on so many occasions, to listen to her ‘inner voice’ and speak directly to the people of Myanmar, asking them to rise above their ethnic, religious and other differences and to advance human dignity, harmony and mutual cooperation between all communities,” he said.

The Myanmar government has not yet responded to the statement.

The call was echoed on Friday by the diplomatic missions of 14 Western nations, including the United States, in a joint statement regarding their concern about the crisis in Rakhine and urging Myanmar authorities to allow a resumption of humanitarian access to the area.

“This assistance is desperately needed to address serious humanitarian needs but also to begin to restore the confidence and hope that are essential to a restoration of peace and stability,” the statement said.

“Full and unfettered access is essential for humanitarian agencies to conduct a comprehensive assessment of current humanitarian needs in support of the government’s humanitarian response,” he said.

Security operations still in place

Meanwhile, security forces continue to prevent international humanitarian groups and independent journalists from entering northern Rakhine state to evaluate the abuse allegations.

The U.N. has called soldiers and border police to respect human rights and the rule of law, and for authorities to allow international humanitarian access to the areas under lockdown.

In early November, Renata Lok-Dessallien, the U.N.’s resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, and several foreign ambassadors conducted a two-day visit to Maungdaw to survey the situation on the ground and talk to residents and security forces.

She called on the government to launch an independent investigation of alleged human rights abuses there.

“After the November visit by nine local ambassadors and the U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator to several of the affected areas, various U.N. agencies have voiced concerns at the deteriorating human rights situation in the state,” Nambiar said.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who holds the positions of state counselor and foreign affairs minister in the majority-Buddhist country, formed a Rakhine Advisory Commission just over three months ago to review conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance, and development issues in the impoverished and divided state.

Members of the commission, chaired by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, wrapped up a visit last weekend to Maungdaw and Buthidaung where they observed the situation on the ground.

Following the visit, Annan said the commission remains “deeply concerned about reports of alleged human rights abuses,” and he called for unobstructed humanitarian and media access in northern Rakhine.

A statement in late November by a U.N. official about Myanmar carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, along with growing international criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis, prompted President Htin Kyaw on Nov. 3 to form an investigative commission to examine the situation that led to the border guard station attacks and subsequent violence, as well as to verify allegations of rights abuses during security operations.

“Though the appointment of the national investigation commission by the government has raised some questions relating to its composition and mandate, I hope it will conduct its work in a credible and independent manner so as to build confidence among the local population in the affected area as well as reassure the people of Myanmar and the wider international community,” Nambiar said.

He also said authorities must reassure local residents they will be protected and must allow those who have fled or been displaced to return to their homes.

“Senior government leaders need to send a strong message underlining their determination to protect all residents regardless of their ethnicity, religion, gender or status,” Nambiar said. “In this volatile situation, it is everyone’s responsibility to handle allegations and rumors with great care.”

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036