Category Archives: Top Stories

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

EU warns of sanctions for Myanmar military, confirms new measures against Russia

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was in Brussels for a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers. /Yves Herman/Pool via AP

Myanmar’s military leadership has been warned it faces European Union sanctions after replacing the government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The EU also announced additional measures against Russia in response to the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The bloc’s foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss a packed agenda including a videoconference with the new U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Shortly after starting, the group issued a statement on Myanmar, saying: “The EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible.”

Credit: newseu.cgtn.com

Incitement Of Violence”: Facebook Takes Down Myanmar Military’s Page

“In line with our global policies, we’ve removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page from Facebook for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.

Facebook on Sunday deleted the main page of the Myanmar military.

A Facebook page run by the Myanmar junta’s “True News” information service was kicked off the platform Sunday after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

Security forces in the country have steadily increased violence against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel laureate was taken into custody along with her top political allies at the start of the month, but the new regime has insisted it took power lawfully.

It has used Facebook to claim Suu Kyi’s landslide election victory last November was tainted by voter fraud and issue stark warnings to the protest movement — which is demanding that the army relinquish power.

A spokesperson for the platform said the Tatmadaw True News Information Team page was removed for “repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm”.

The social media giant has banned hundreds of army-linked pages in recent years after being criticised for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.

Much of the content targeted the country’s stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, around 750,000 of whom fled into neighbouring Bangladesh after an army crackdown in 2017.

Credit: www.ndtv.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

China to work with Myanmar to battle COVID-19, promote economic recovery: Wang Yi

NAY PYI TAW, Jan. 11 — China will stand firm with Myanmar to jointly fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, push for economic recovery and build the China-Myanmar community with a shared future, visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Monday.

Wang made the remarks during a meeting with Myanmar President U Win Myint.

Noting that he is the first foreign minister to visit Myanmar after the Southeast Asian country’s general elections, Wang said his visit is aimed at demonstrating China’s anticipation and support for the successful formation of Myanmar’s new government as well as Myanmar’s efforts to realize prosperity and long-term stability.

Through close consultations, China and Myanmar have agreed in principle on the action plan of building the China-Myanmar community with a shared future following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic state visit to Myanmar last year, Wang noted.

China decided to provide an emergency aid of COVID-19 vaccines to Myanmar to support its fight against the pandemic, and is willing to carry out further vaccine cooperation with Myanmar, said Wang.

Wang believed that the “Paukphaw” (fraternal) friendship between the two countries will be further carried forward and the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership will be further deepened after the testing of the pandemic.

Wang said China supports Myanmar’s new government in revitalizing its economy, improving people’s well-being, and accelerating industrialization, hoping that the two sides would effectively implement the agreement on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor with a concerted effort.

Wang said the two countries can extend activities of the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism to 2021 and promote people-to-people exchanges between the two sides.

China supports the Myanmar government’s efforts in pursuing national reconciliation and will continue to provide assistance within its capacity, he said.

Wang noted that this year Myanmar will assume the roles of the country coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, co-chair of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and co-chair of consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Wang said China would like to enhance coordination and cooperation with Myanmar to upgrade China-ASEAN relations, accelerate the development of the Lancang-Mekong economic zone, push for the early implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

For his part, President U Win Myint said the Chinese foreign minister was the first to visit Myanmar soon after the new government led by the National League for Democracy was formed in 2016 and took the lead to visit Myanmar again this time during the pandemic, showing China attaches great importance to the relations with Myanmar.

He said Myanmar is committed to working with China to jointly build the Myanmar-China community with a shared future sharing weal and woe, expressing appreciation to China for its support in combating the pandemic and pushing forward the national reconciliation in Myanmar.

The president said Myanmar firmly adheres to the one-China principle and will continue to support China’s position on issues related to Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, adding that Myanmar is willing to play an active role in advancing China-ASEAN relations and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation.

Credit: english.cctv.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

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

Sailor from Myanmar dies after fight on tanker near Taiwan

The New Princess in Keelung Saturday (CNA Photo)

A sailor from Myanmar died after a fight with fellow crew members on a foreign ship off the coast of Taiwan, reports said Saturday (Jan. 2).

The incident occurred on the New Progress, a tanker registered in the Cook Islands, while it was sailing in international waters off the coast of New Taipei City, CNA reported. As a result, Taiwan has no jurisdiction over the case, according to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA).

When the ship reached a point 31 nautical miles (57 kilometers) from New Taipei’s Shimen District Friday (Jan. 1) evening, a fight broke out and Wai Phy Aung, 27, was stabbed. As his condition deteriorated rapidly, the crew called in assistance, and a helicopter flew him to Taipei Songshan Airport.

However, the man was declared dead after his arrival at the hospital, CNA reported. The tanker dropped anchor in the port of Keelung on Saturday morning.

The CGA said though it did not have jurisdiction over the incident, it would assist with the investigation if the shipowner requested.

Credit: www.taiwannews.com.tw