Category Archives: Nation

India wants a stable Myanmar, says Army Chief

In his first comment on the military coup in Myanmar, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane on Wednesday asserted that India wants a “stable” Myanmar.

During a virtual conference on the role of the Indian Army in dealing with the contemporary national security challenges, Naravane said that Myanmar is the bridge between India and the rest of South Asian countries.

“Myanmar plays a key role in India’s foreign policy. It is the bridge between India and the rest of South Asia and therefore we want a stable neighbour and a stable Myanmar. I think the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has already stated the country’s position in this regard that – we support the process for transition to democracy and that is what we should be looking forward to,” he said.

The Army Chief also recalled the Myanmar Army’s role in the fight against insurgency along Indian borders in north-east states.

“As far military to military level interaction is concerned, we share a good repo especially on the border, where we conversate quite often. Over the last two years, we had a number of co-ordinated operations in border areas along Nagaland and Manipur. Myanmar Army has carried out operations in flushing out various Indian insurgent groups, who were taking temporary shelters across the borders. As a result of that, a large number of insurgent groups surrender took place,” he said.

On February 1, Myanmar’s military overthrew the government and declared a year-long state of emergency hours before the newly-elected parliament was due to convene. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, along with other top officials accused of election fraud, have been placed under house arrest.

The coup triggered mass protests across Myanmar.

Credit: www.siasat.com

Malaysia court halts deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court has allowed a temporary stay of deportation of 1,200 Myanmar nationals scheduled to be sent back to their strife-torn homeland on Tuesday, after rights groups said the plan could endanger their lives.

The 1,200 detainees were set to leave on Tuesday afternoon in three navy ships sent by Myanmar’s military, which seized power in a Feb. 1 coup, sparking weeks of protests from pro-democracy activists.

Just before the court issued its order, the migrants were bussed in from across the country to the naval base at Lumut in western Malaysia where the Myanmar ships are docked.

Refugee groups say asylum seekers from the minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya Muslim communities fleeing conflict and persecution at home are among those being deported.

Amnesty International, which with Asylum Access had asked the courts to stop the deportation, said the high court granted a stay until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, when it will hear the groups’ application for judicial review to suspend the deportation.

“It’s important to note that the stay of execution granted by the court does not mean the 1,200 are safe from being deported,” said Katrina Maliamauv, Amnesty Malaysia director.

“We urge the government to reconsider its plans to send this group of vulnerable people back to Myanmar, where human rights violations are currently dangerously high,” she said.

Amnesty has said among the deportees were three people registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 17 minors who have at least one parent in Malaysia.

Spokespeople for Malaysia’s immigration department and foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the court order.

Malaysia has said it would not deport Rohingya Muslims or refugees registered with UNHCR. But the UN refugee agency has said there are at least six people registered with it that are also set to be deported and that there could be more. It has not been allowed access to the deportees.

Malaysia has not responded publicly to critics or Reuters queries over the deportation of the asylum seekers and those registered with UNHCR.

Concerns over deportation of unregistered asylum-seekers persist, as UNHCR has not been allowed to interview detainees for over a year to verify their status. The Southeast Asian nation is home to more than 154,000 asylum-seekers from Myanmar.

The United States and other Western missions have been trying to dissuade Malaysia from proceeding with the deportation and urged the government to allow UNHCR to interview the detainees. They also say Malaysia is legitimising the military government by cooperating with the junta.

Credit: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Myanmar coup: What is happening and why?

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing had just turned 20

A 20-year-old woman shot in the head during anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar has died of her injuries.

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing was taken to hospital last week, after police used water cannon, rubber bullets and live ammunition to try to disperse protesters.

The country has seen mass demonstrations after the armed forces arrested the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party.

Where is Myanmar?

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is in South East Asia. It neighbours Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India.

It has a population of about 54 million, most of whom are Burmese speakers, although other languages are also spoken. The biggest city is Yangon (Rangoon), but the capital is Nay Pyi Taw.

The main religion is Buddhism. There are many ethnic groups in the country, including Rohingya Muslims.

The country gained independence from Britain in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.

Why is Myanmar also known as Burma?

The ruling military changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. The two words mean the same thing but Myanmar is the more formal version.

Some countries, including the UK, initially refused to use the name as a way of denying the regime’s legitimacy.

But use of “Myanmar” has become increasingly common and in 2016 Ms Suu Kyi said it did not matter which name was used.

What has happened now, and why?

The military is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency.

It seized control on 1 February following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.

The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.

The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open.

Ms Suu Kyi is under house arrest and has been charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies. Many other NLD officials have also been detained.

Who is in charge now?

Power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

He has long wielded significant political influence, successfully maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw – Myanmar’s military – even as the country moved towards democracy.

What about the crackdown on Rohingya?

Ms Suu Kyi’s international reputation has suffered greatly as a result of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority.

Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants and denies them citizenship. Over decades, many have fled the country to escape persecution.

Thousands of Rohingya were killed and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh following an army crackdown in 2017.

Ms Suu Kyi appeared before the International Court of Justice in 2019, where she denied allegations that the military had committed genocide.

What has the international reaction been to the coup?

The UK, EU and Australia are among those to have condemned the military takeover.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it was a “serious blow to democratic reforms”.

US President Joe Biden has threatened to reinstate sanctions.

However, China blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup. The country, which has previously opposed international intervention in Myanmar, urged all sides to “resolve differences”.

Neighbours including Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, have said it is an “internal matter”.

Credit: www.bbc.com

Fresh Anti-Coup Protests In Myanmar After Overnight Internet Blackout

The military has steadily escalated efforts to quell an uprising against their seizure of power two weeks ago, which saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained along with hundreds of other members of her democratically elected government.

Yangon, Myanmar: 

Myanmar’s junta cut the nation’s internet and deployed extra troops around the country on Monday as fears built of a widespread crackdown on anti-coup protests, but defiant demonstrators again took to the streets. 

The military has steadily escalated efforts to quell an uprising against their seizure of power two weeks ago, which saw civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained along with hundreds of other members of her democratically elected government. 

With protesters refusing to back down, the generals imposed an internet shutdown on Monday morning and ratcheted up the military’s presence across the country.

Extra troops were seen in key locations of Yangon, the nation’s commercial hub and biggest city, including armoured personnel carriers near the central bank.

Live-stream images shared on social media platforms before the internet blackout showed more military vehicles and soldiers moving through others parts of the country.

However fresh protests again flared in Yangon on Monday morning, including near the central bank.

Hundreds of engineering and technology students protested in a northern district of Yangon, according to an AFP journalist. 

Monitoring group NetBlocks initially said the “state-ordered information blackout” had taken Myanmar almost entirely offline.

However some internet services in Yangon resumed at the start of the working day, according to an AFP reporter in the city.  

Deepening fears the military was going to impose a far harsher crackdown, troops in the northern city of Myitkyina fired tear gas then shot at a crowd on Sunday night. 

A journalist at the scene said it was unclear whether police had used rubber bullets or live rounds. 

Local media outlets said at least five journalists monitoring the protest had been detained and published pictures of some people wounded in the incident. 

A joint statement from the US, British and European Union ambassadors urged security forces not to harm civilians. 

“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” they said. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed that call, pushing authorities to “ensure the right of peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals”. 

Through his spokesman, Guterres also asked the military to “urgently” allow Swiss diplomat Christine Schraner Burgener to visit Myanmar “to assess the situation first hand”.

The US embassy advised American citizens to shelter in place and not risk defying an overnight curfew imposed by the regime. 

Credit: www.ndtv.com

Rohingya Activists Are Hoping That the Coup in Myanmar Will Be a Turning Point for Their Struggle

KUTUPALONG, COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH – 2019/08/25: Rohingya Muslims waiting on the hill in kutupalong refugee camp to commemorate the second anniversary of the 2017 crisis when they were forced to flee from their northern Rakhine state homes in Myanmar escaping a brutal military crackdown. According to UNHCR over 742,000 of the persecuted minority escaped to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017. (Photo by K M Asad/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In the week since the military overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government, exile Nay San Lwin has been inundated with dozens of messages from his compatriots offering support.

It’s a dramatic change from 2017, when the rights activist, now living in Germany, was disseminating information about the atrocities Myanmar’s military had unleashed against his community—the mostly Muslim Rohingya, who live in the west of the country. Back then, the majority of the messages he received from other Burmese consisted of death threats and abuse.

About two-thirds of the population of the Southeast Asian nation are of the Bamar ethnicity, who are generally Buddhist and dominate the governing class. The other third is made up of over 100 ethnic minorities, many of whom have faced persecution at the hands of the military—especially the Rohingya. U.N. investigators say the armed forces of Myanmar, officially known as the Tatmadaw, have waged war against the Rohingya with “genocidal intent.”

The Rohingya found no support from the civilian government. Indeed, in 2019 Aung San Suu Kyi notoriously defended the Tatmadaw in a hearing at the Hague, and just two weeks before the coup, her government filed preliminary objections to the International Court of Justice over the genocide case it faces. The general population had no sympathy either; many Burmese consider the Rohingya to be Bangladeshi migrants, even though the Rohingya have centuries of history in Myanmar.

But in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup, some Burmese are finally changing their views of their Muslim countrymen. Says Nay San Lwin, who gained 3,000 new Twitter followers in a day last week: “They are now realizing the common enemy is the military.”

Some have even begun apologizing to Yanghee Lee. The former U.N. Special Rapporteur was hailed by the rights community as a “champion of justice for Rohingyas,” while being vilified in Myanmar. When she tweeted a call for the release of Suu Kyi on Feb. 4, the thread filled up with expiations.

“I do want to apologize the way I treated you in recent years regarding Rohingya,” said one user. “[Forgive] me for misunderstanding you. In the recent years, we were narrow-minded,” read another tweet.

Lily (a nickname), who lives in Yangon, tells TIME that the coup made her realize her own double standards. A 39-year-old transgender advocate from the Karen ethnic minority, she says that although she knew what happened to the Rohingya was a “grave violation of human rights” she failed to stand up for them, despite her activism in other areas.

“Without international community strong condemnation and support, I think we will all end up like Rohingya people,” she says.

Rohingya activists seek support among Burmese

In turn, the Rohingya are hoping that standing in solidarity with the people of Myanmar will help end discrimination against them and bolster their fight for justice.

“We are trying to build solidarity with the Burmese people,” says Nay San Lwin. “Most of the Rohingya activists are supporting the movement in Myanmar.”

Not just activists. Muhammad Dullah fled the country in Aug. 2017 and now lives in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The 24-year-old Rohingya has started posting anti-coup messages on his Twitter account.

“Rohingya stand with the people of Myanmar,” said one tweet, accompanied by photos of a makeshift signs reading “Protesting against military coup from the Bangladesh Rohingya Refugee camp” and “Military coup” with a large X drawn through it.

“I think [Burmese] may support and stand by us after seeing our solidarity with them,” Dullah tells TIME.

Credit: time.com

Myanmar orders 30 million coronavirus vaccines from India

Covid vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

Myanmar has ordered 30 million coronavirus vaccines from India that are expected to be delivered by the end of February.

Zaw Htay, the President Office director-general said that Myanmar chose the vaccine because it can be stored in a temperature between 2 to 8 degrees centigrade that is suitable as per the country’s temperature.

Earlier, Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi had announced that her country will get the COVID-19 vaccine from India and that a contract has been signed regarding it.  

Myanmar has reported 129,483 coronavirus cases with a death toll of 2,812. The country’s government has been communicating with neighbouring countries to acquire COVID-19 vaccines.

Last year the Indian foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Army Chief MM Naravane had jointly visited the country. The visit saw high-level assurances from India that Myanmar will be a priority when it comes to the vaccine. 

India gifted 3000 vials of Anti Covid Remdesivir to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as a “symbol” of India‘s commitment to helping Myanmar mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Myanmar has signed MoU with the Serum Institute of India for Covishield. Over the weekend, India’s drug regulator gave approval for its use.

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China’s BRI Dream Could Turn Nightmare As Myanmar Puts ‘Roadblocks’ Before Key Infra Projects

A file picture of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi (right) with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. (via Twitter)

Unlike China’s ‘iron brother’ Pakistan, which has rolled out the red carpet for its BRI projects, Southeast Asian nation Myanmar is set to clip the wings of the dragon.

China may be aiming to conquer the world with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) undermining local sentiments in certain host countries, but the dragon is not invincible it seems. Myanmar is one country where citizens are resisting aggressive and intrusive policies Beijing is known for.

A global infrastructure strategy, BRI reflects President Xi Jinping’s dream of taking China to the ‘numero uno’ spot in the world. It envisages road, rail, and port projects in six economic corridors spread across Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.

No wonder, the Communist regime has already incorporated the BRI in the country’s Constitution as China plans to invest $1.5 trillion in the next decade.

According to global financial services group Nomura, more than 80 countries are likely to benefit from the BRI project. At the same time, it “will have enormous economic, geopolitical and investment implications for China”, Nomura warns. 

What is then that Myanmar is not happy about? The Southeast Asian nation is not in favor of China having a monopoly in key infrastructure projects in the country. One such example is the Yangon Mega City Project under BRI. In July last year, Naypyitaw had allowed other foreign partners besides China Communication and Construction Company to join the project in order to cut Beijing to size.

The Chinese firm was accused of corruption in as many as 10 Asian and African countries where it is undertaking infrastructure development projects, The Economic Times reported.

The Yangon Mega City Project is part of the China-Myanmar Economic (CMEC) aimed at connecting China’s southwestern Yunnan province with Mandalay, Yangon, and Kyaukphyu in Myanmar.

Another hurdle before China’s BRI comes from the rebel-infested Kachin state where China plans to build the Myitkyina Economic Development Zone (MEDZ) along the World War-II Ledo Road that originates in Assam. As experts have pointed out, China’s ultimate aim may be to bring India under the purview of its BRI.

However, the project to be undertaken in collaboration with the Kachin state government is mired in allegations of land grab and lack of transparency, as reported by The Irrawaddy.

It said ethnic landowners within the project site expressed concerns over “possible land confiscations”. Even local politicians feigned ignorance about the details of the project proposed on 4,700 acres of land.

The report sounded an alarm over China-backed projects in Myanmar, ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the country this month. 

“It has long been the view in Naypyitaw that Myanmar should be pragmatic in dealing with China,” and goes on to say that “Myanmar should be the one proposing projects to China, rather than the other way around”.

The editorial minces no words in flagging concerns that “the BRI and CMEC projects will give China increased control over Myanmar’s wealth along the economic corridor—such a strategy allows China to exert economic control without ever having to resort to military coercion”.

Such an expression is rooted in the public anger over China-initiated mega projects in Myanmar that seem to have undermined people’s grievances and environmental concerns.

Now, contrast this with what Pakistan has been doing all along vis-à-vis the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, also part of the BRI. In 2018, then-Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi hailed this as a “game-changer” for his country. 

Then, Pakistan has allowed fencing of the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan despite objections from the local population who fear it will turn the town into a “Chinese colony”, restricting their free movement. A part of the CPEC, the deep seaport is built and operated by China.

Credit: eurasiantimes.com

Kirin fails to dispel doubts on military-linked Myanmar partner

Myanmar Brewery, a joint venture between Kirin and Myanma Economic Holdings, is the dominant beer company in the southeast Asian country and widely known for its flagship brand, Myanmar Beer.   © Getty Images

Reputational risk casts shadow over beer joint ventures in emerging market

Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings on Wednesday announced that its audit of the financial and governance structures of its business partner in Myanmar failed to produce results due to a lack of information from its counterpart.

Kirin commissioned Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory to conduct an independent assessment of its partner, Myanma Economic Holdings, in June. “Unfortunately, the assessment was inconclusive as a result of Deloitte being unable to access sufficient information required to make a definitive determination,” Kirin said in a statement.

MEHL is one of two big military-linked conglomerates in the Southeast Asian country, along with Myanmar Economic Corporation. It operates a wide range of businesses, ranging from finance, to agriculture, to mining. Kirin has two joint-venture companies with MEHL, Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery, holding a 51% stake in each.

MEHL has close ties to the military, which has been accused of massacring Muslim minority Rohingyas and destroying their villages. Critics say MEHL offers a conduit for finance that bypasses formal civilian government channels. The purpose of Kirin’s assessment was to determine where proceeds from the joint-venture businesses end up.

A U.N. fact-finding mission published a report in 2019 listing dozens of foreign companies linked to the military-related conglomerates, including Kirin, and warned that the relationship “poses a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

The failure of the investigation to clear up doubts surrounding MEHL could expose Kirin to even greater reputational risk.

“[W]e remain committed to urgently finding a solution that is consistent with our approach,” the drinks maker said in the statement. “A further update on our plans will be provided by the end of April 2021,” it added. Following the announcement, a Kirin representative told Nikkei Asia that the company will seek options for a transparent system to ensure that none of the proceeds from the joint ventures are used for military purposes.

Kirin decided in November to suspend all dividend payments from Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery to shareholders in Kirin and MEHL “in view of a significant lack of visibility regarding the future business environment.” On Thursday, Kirin stated that the suspension will continue.

“It is wholly unacceptable for any proceeds from our Myanmar joint ventures to be used for military purposes, which is the fundamental condition of the joint-venture agreement,” the Japanese company said. “Kirin takes its responsibilities in Myanmar seriously, and will continue to take the necessary action to ensure its business activities in the country adhere to the highest standards,” it added.

According to a Kirin disclosure, Myanmar Brewery had 32.6 billion yen ($316 million) in sales and 12.9 billion yen in what Kirin calls normalized operating profit for the year ended December 2019. That amounted to 6.8% of the group’s total normalized operating profit.

Myanmar Brewery is the dominant beer maker in Myanmar and is widely known in the country for its flagship Myanmar Beer brand.

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business recently reported after meeting with the management of directors of MEHL that at present most of the company’s profit comes from Myanmar Brewery. The Yangon-based civic organization said MEHL’s financial statement for the fiscal year 2018/2019 “appears to show income from operating activities and other income totaling approximately $110 million.”

According to the U.N. mission and the civic group, MEHL has a body called the “patrons group” that oversees the board. It is headed by the Myanmar military’s commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. The same explanation is given in a document obtained by Nikkei Asia from a source close to MEHL.

The conglomerate’s shareholders include a number of military organs, such as “regional commands, divisions, battalions and troops,” apart from individual shareholders, who are all serving or retired military personnel, according to international human rights group Amnesty International.

Credit: asia.nikkei.com

In New Year speech, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi announces contract to get COVID-19 vaccine from India

Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi wears a face shield and mask as she attends a flag-raising ceremony for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to mark the first day of election campaigning in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on Tuesday Photograph:( AFP )

In her New Year’s address to the nation, Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has announced that her country will get the COVID-19 vaccine from India and that a contract has been signed regarding it. 

 “The purchase contract for buying the first batch of the vaccines from India has already been signed. As soon as the authorities concerned in India have issued permission to use this vaccine, we have made arrangements for the import of these vaccines into Myanmar,”

Last year the Indian foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Army Chief MM Naravane had jointly visited the country. The visit saw high-level assurances from India that Myanmar will be a priority when it comes to the vaccine. Shringla also handed over 3000 vials of Remdesivir as a symbol of India‘s commitment to helping Myanmar mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Myanmar has signed MoU with the Serum Institute of India for Covishield. Over the weekend, India’s drug regulator gave approval for its use.

The state counsellor highlighted that the first priority group to get the vaccine will be medical professionals and medical personnel which will take place in February. 

“There is a lot of competition as all the countries of the world are trying to get this vaccine. However, we believe that the vaccination programme could be carried out all over the country step-by-step,” San Suu Kyi added.

“During the period when the vaccines are still not available, I wish to appeal to the people to abide by the health rules and regulations and give support to our efforts to beat COVID-19. Please be vigilant; please be patient. Please brace yourself by visioning the future. We are all in this together,” she added.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India reaffirmed its position as the pharma capital of the world by sending medicines like HCQ, paracetamol to more than 150 countries. 

New Delhi also organised training to build capacity. In fact, for the neighbourhood, India has organized two training modules in which about 90 health experts and scientists have participated.

Credit: www.wionews.com

Covid-19 vaccine: Myanmar looks to India with hope, ‘inks contract’

As the government green lighted two vaccines, other countries are hoping to get the jabs from India soon. Myanmar’s state councillor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her New Year’s address, said they had started the process to get the vaccines from India.


“I think what the people wish to know is regarding the vaccination programme for Covid-19 and when this programme would start. The purchase contract for buying the first batch of the vaccines from India has already been signed. As soon as the authorities concerned in India have issued permission to use this vaccine, we have made arrangements for the import of these vaccines into Myanmar. In accordance with this programme, we will be vaccinating the first priority group, which comprises medical professionals and medical personnel in February,” she said.

India has promised vaccines to Bangladesh as a “priority” partner, Nepal and other neighbouring countries.
The government will allow exports after India’s own demands are met. Vaccine candidates by AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech have been approved for emergency use .

Credit: timesofindia.indiatimes.com