Stories written by Marwaan Macan-Markar
Marwaan Macan-Markar is a Sri Lankan journalist who covered the South Asian nation's ethnic conflict for local newspapers before joining IPS in 1999. He was first posted as a correspondent at the agency's world desk in Mexico City and has since been based in Bangkok, covering Southeast Asia. He has reported from over 15 countries, writing from the frontlines of insurgencies, political upheavals, human rights violations, peace talks, natural disasters, climate change, economic development, new diseases such as bird flu and emerging trends in Islam, among other current issues.
Supaa Prordeengam, a 48-year-old businesswoman, came to take part in the anti-government rallies that have been continuing in the Thai capital for nearly three months now. But disturbed by the sexist speeches emanating from the protest platforms, she said, “We need to be critical, not invade women’s rights.”
An exiled leader of the Rohingyas, a persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, is raising the alarm from his London office about the fate of his community. He fears “ethnocide to remove all references to the Rohingyas” if the first census in 30 years goes ahead in the Southeast Asian nation.
At first glance, the poster appears to be a typical advertisement for an African safari: a large rhinoceros set against a rugged, open terrain. Then you take a closer look and realise something is amiss.
As a survivor of Japan’s deadliest tsunami in living memory, Shun Ito dedicates his mornings to evoking stories of heroism that helped to save lives in this port town that was decimated on that fateful March afternoon two years ago.
When Ko Mynt fled poverty in Myanmar for a job in neighbouring Thailand, the thought of labouring long hours in a shrimp peeling shed was far from his mind. So was this seaside town south of Bangkok. The 29-year-old had set his sights on employment in a garments factory.
Days before leaders of the European Union (EU) arrived in Norway to collect this year’s Nobel Peace prize, Thai public health activists sent a letter to the northern powerhouse, warning that the EU’s 2012 accolades face a credibility test in this Southeast Asian country.
From her half-built house, Ari Haryani takes a few steps to reach a freshly cemented path that snakes through the narrow, dusty walkways of this resettlement village. The path offers the 36-year-old a route to safety in case the nearby Mount Merapi, Indonesia’s most active volcano, erupts.
As Thailand braces itself to combat drug-resistant malaria, a spread of small, nondescript buildings scattered close to corn and rice fields along its hilly, western border are being cast into a bigger, international role.
After decades of grinding poverty under successive military dictatorships, Myanmar’s rice farmers have a chance at a better future through rural reforms ushered in by the country’s quasi-civilian government. Microfinance is at the root of it.
As government negotiators from the world’s poorest countries ended a round of United Nations climate change talks in the Thai capital, they sounded a grave note about what appears imminent when they assemble in November in Doha – the reading of the last rites of the Kyoto Protocol.
When Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivered his annual state of the union address in July, he appealed to the country’s lawmakers to break a deadlock on progressive birth control laws in this predominantly Catholic nation.
Impoverished Laos is unlikely to cancel a Thai project to build a mega dam across the Mekong River at Xayaburi, despite warnings from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that it could devastate the region’s rich biodiversity.
In a country where talk of a ceasefire brings representatives from 11 different armed ethnic groups to the table, Myanmar’s chief peace negotiator, Railway Minister Aung Min, is experimenting with an unusual solution to decades of separatist struggles.
A year after the Laotian government launched a safe pregnancy programme news of this initiative, involving the dispatch of teams of midwives across the country, is yet to reach women in the remote communities.
The just-ended United Nations sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro has exposed the discomfort that many developing Asian countries have over buzz words like ‘green economy’ and ‘green growth’ in development diplomacy.
Reports of sectarian violence in western Myanmar have exposed the plight of 800,000 Muslim Rohingya, a persecuted minority that a regional human rights body described in 2006 as facing a "slow-burning genocide".