Rendered the nowhere people in their own homeland, thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are fleeing inhuman living conditions, lack of humanitarian aid and rising sectarian tensions in their country. And the very state that is supposed to protect them now stands accused of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
At the age of 23, Gao travelled to Thailand to escape intense fighting in his native Shan State in the east of Myanmar (Burma) and possible recruitment into the Shah army.
As Japan slips from its former top spot as the world’s biggest donor, experts here are worried about long-term changes in the country’s development assistance programme, which has played a crucial role in global poverty reduction efforts.
A long-awaited official report on last year’s sectarian violence in western Myanmar is being heavily disparaged by human rights and advocacy groups here, who say a government-backed commission has placed undue emphasis on strengthening security while almost completely ignoring issues of discrimination and accountability.
Nearly 20 of the world’s largest creditor countries have announced that they would be cutting nearly half of Myanmar’s total foreign debt, worth some six billion dollars.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group arm that focuses on the private sector, announced Wednesday that it would be backing a new microfinance institution in Myanmar aimed at reaching 200,000 people by 2020.
Worried over the possibility of further escalation of armed conflict in Myanmar, activists here are calling on Washington to take stronger action to condemn state forces for aerial bombardment of ethnic Kachin rebels and civilians in the country’s north, which some say constitutes crimes against humanity.
In late August, Mohammad Saifuddin (not his real name), together with his wife, three daughters and son, fled the carnage of communal violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine province and headed for the border of neighbouring Bangladesh.
Highlighting his much-ballyhooed “pivot” from the Greater Middle East to the Asia- Pacific region, Barack Obama leaves Friday for a four-day tour to Southeast Asia, including the first-ever visit by a U.S. president to Myanmar.
The World Bank has approved a major new development package for Myanmar, marking the first time the Washington-based development institution has lent to the country in a quarter century.
With a new surge in sectarian violence in western Myanmar estimated to have killed more than a hundred people in recent days, top officials in the United Nations are criticising the Myanmar government for dragging its feet on addressing the “root cause” of a conflict that could disrupt the delicate reforms process underway in the country.
Foreign donors are rushing into Myanmar (formerly Burma), whose government has been pushing the right political buttons as part of its democratic reform process. But development planners and local activists caution that the best approach should still be ‘easy does it’.
Following sectarian violence in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine in June, human rights researchers are now warning that the government appears to be attempting to permanently house parts of the stateless Muslim-minority Rohingya in “temporary” refugee camps, segregating them from the rest of the population.
Speaking on Tuesday at her first public address in the United States, Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that she supported the lifting of the last remaining U.S. economic sanctions on her country, but also warned that all remaining political prisoners need to be released.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has taken important steps towards democracy and greater respect for human rights during the last months with one exception, activists say – the situation for the Rohingya minority, which has faced an outburst of violent attacks this summer.