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CrisisWatch Database

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713 results found
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Thailand

  |  1 Jun 2016

Unchanged
Royal Gazette 5 May published National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order authorising interior ministry to appoint govt officials to local elected councils when existing terms expire. Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwon 17 May said if voters reject second attempt to pass draft constitution in Aug referendum, another committee would be set up to draft third charter, raising possibility general election set for mid-2017 might be further delayed. Election Commission 19 May met with 65 political parties to discuss Aug referendum; politicians asked NCPO state what will happen if draft constitution is rejected in the referendum. Repression of regime critics continued, notwithstanding ongoing international pressure, including criticism from UN human rights chief Hussein late April on NCPO order providing military officers with police powers. Phase Two of Thailand’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 11 May addressed inter alia torture and ill treatment of detainees by security officials; the death penalty; enforced disappearances; and freedom of speech. Following subsequent meeting with Thai FM, U.S. ambassador told media U.S. is “troubled” by recent arrests of NCPO critics. Country 22 May marked two-year anniversary of coup that brought NCPO to power; authorities permitted demonstration of some 200 people against military rule. Cabinet 26 May resolved to enact law to criminalise torture and enforced disappearances by state officials, drawing praise from UN and human rights activists. NCPO 27 May lifted international travel bans on scores of regime critics. Deep South saw continued insurgent attacks in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces, including IED in Narathiwat 2 May killing one soldier; several civilians also killed/injured during month.

Philippines

  |  1 Jun 2016

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Controversial longstanding mayor of Mindanao’s Davao City Rodrigo Duterte won 9 May presidential elections with 38.5% of vote. Pantaleon Alvarez, expected to be new house speaker under Duterte, 21 May said next Congress would not pass Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), would focus on federalisation of country which would address provisions of 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB); remarks contradict Duterte’s previous stated commitment to passing BBL. Chief govt negotiator on CAB 23 May urged passage of BBL; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 24 May called Alvarez’s statement “non-starter” and said it did not build confidence in Duterte administration’s understanding of Bangsamoro issue. Govt and MILF peace panels met 29-30 May in Malaysia and signed Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership in the peace process. Poll results released 7 May showed 45% of Philippine population said new president should implement CAB. Islamic State (IS) claimed 9 May attack on army outpost in Maluso, said carried out by “IS Philippines”; second IS-claimed attack in Philippines. Seven soldiers wounded 18 May on Jolo Island in suspected Abu Sayyaf group grenade attack. Govt forces 24 May captured Abu Sayyaf camp in effort to rescue hostages; Abu Sayyaf set new ransom deadline for 13 June. Abu Sayyaf 11 May freed four Indonesians without ransom; release reportedly negotiated by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Govt forces late month reportedly killed 54 militants linked to Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah in Lanau del Sur. In other attacks: seven killed, one wounded 9 May by unknown attackers south of Manila. Four killed in Maguindanao mid-May in three clashes between Sabal and Buisan political clans with ties to MNLF and MILF.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jun 2016

Unchanged
Legislature 10 May approved without discussion president’s request to establish new State Counsellor Ministry to support ASSK’s work as state counsellor; retired ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe appointed 17 May to head ministry. At 13 May press conference Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing confirmed he will not retire during coming govt. Seventeen senior members of former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) including former chair Shwe Mann expelled from party 22 April. ASSK 27 April met Joint Monitoring Committee of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), gave first outline of her peace plans: called for conference within one-to-two months, indicated she would personally lead peace process and her personal physician Tin Myo Win to be in day-to-day charge. Plans announced without prior consultation with armed groups and other stakeholders. Govt 31 May set up committees making up new peace architecture. Serious armed clashes continued, including between govt forces and Kachin Independence Organization in Kachin state, Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine state and Shan State Army-North ceasefire group in Shan state; also clashes between Shan State Army-South and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in N Shan state in early-May, leading to the displacement of an additional 1,600 villagers. U.S. renewed sanctions against Myanmar 17 May, including arms embargo, ban on jade and gem imports, and list of over 100 “specially designated” individuals/entities U.S. nationals are prohibited from dealing with; eased some restrictions with aim to ease trade, removed state-owned banks from U.S. blacklist and lifted sanctions against seven state-owned timber and mining companies. U.S. Sec State Kerry during 22 May visit discussed situation in Rakhine state with ASSK and Commander-in-Chief; followed calls by Buddhist nationalist protesters and govt for U.S. embassy to refrain from using word Rohingya. ASSK called for all parties to avoid “emotive” terms like “Rohingya” and “Bengali”. Govt 31 May announced formation of central committee for implementation of peace and development in Rakhine State.

Indonesia

  |  1 Jun 2016

Unchanged
Police 2 May arrested hundreds of protesters in Papua calling on Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to grant pro-Papuan independence groups membership in regional body; 31 May briefly detained some 300 protesters in Jayapura. Followed late April visit to Papua by President Widodo. MSG chair accused Indonesia of refusing to engage in dialogue on concerns over rights abuses in W Papua; Jakarta said claims violated principles of sovereignty and non-interference. Police said two suspected members of East Indonesia Mujahidin terrorist group killed in shootout with security forces in Poso, Central Sulawesi 15 May.

Thailand

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) 29 March issued Order giving some military officers authority to conduct warrantless searches of homes, seize assets and detain civilians without charge. Human rights defenders condemned military intrusion into legal process; many observers believe order intended to curb criticism of draft constitution. Following 29 March issue of draft constitution, National Legislative Assembly 7 April approved referendum bill. Referendum will include question on whether or not joint sitting of parliament, including wholly appointed senate, should vote on PM. Referendum bill also authorises ten years’ prison for persons who “cause disturbances, deceive, force or threaten voters”. Army Commander General Thirachai Nakwanit 1 April told reporters that politicians who openly oppose govt could be sent for re-education course at military bases in violence-torn south. Army 19 April detained former commerce Minister Watana Muangsook for fourth “attitude adjustment” after he posted comments critical of NCPO on Facebook; activists demonstrated demanding his release, Watana released on bail 21 April. Soldiers 27 April arrested eight civilians for violations of Computer Crimes Act for Facebook posts ridiculing NCPO; the eight were charged with sedition. Violence continued in southernmost provinces, including several killed late-March/April in attacks/bombings. Secretary of Thai peace-dialogue delegation, Lt. General Nakrob Bunbuathong, transferred from post 21 April. Thai delegation met with Malay-Muslim separatist umbrella group Mara Patani in Kuala Lumpur 27 April, refused to sign Terms of Reference, setting back efforts to start formal negotiations.

Philippines

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Month saw heavy fighting on Basilan island as military launched major operation against Abu Sayyaf Group. Eighteen soldiers killed, over 50 injured 9 April after over 100 Abu Sayyaf attacked military in Tipo-Tipo, highest death toll of single military operation since 2011. Islamic State (IS), to which Abu Sayyaf has claimed allegiance, 14 April issued first official communiqué on attacks in Philippines claiming to have blown up seven trucks carrying soldiers during Basilan clashes; Philippine military rejected claim as propaganda. Military 10 April deployed over 2,000 soldiers to pursue Abu Sayyaf leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Furuji Indama. 37 militants reported killed in clashes 9-16 April. Military captured at least three Abu Sayyaf camps throughout month. Military 6 April confirmed foreign nationals held by Abu Sayyaf include fourteen Indonesians, four Malaysians kidnapped from ship 3 April. Abu Sayyaf 8 April freed former Italian missionary after six months; 25 April murdered Canadian hostage held since Sept 2015; 1 May released ten Indonesian sailors held since late March. Govt’s chief peace negotiator 14 April said operations against Abu Sayyaf highlight importance of Mindanao peace process with MILF in curbing terrorist groups. As campaigning got underway for 9 May general elections, candidates debated significance of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). All presidential contenders have also declared supporting the continuation of peace process.

Myanmar

  |  2 May 2016

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Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) confirmed in two cabinet positions, FM and minister in the President’s Office, after energy and education portfolios given to other ministers 5 April. Parliament 5 April approved bill creating new extra-constitutional position of “State Counsellor” specifically for ASSK, providing her legal authority to advise both executive and legislative branches; law pushed through despite objections from military bloc that it was unconstitutional. New govt released over 150 jailed activists 8 and 17 April; 69 of whom were students charged with illegal demonstration and 83 of whom were people imprisoned on political grounds who received presidential pardons. Fighting between govt forces and Arakan Army in Rakhine state continued, with clashes 16 April in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun and Rathedaung townships killing several soldiers. Kyauktaw court late-March/early-April sentenced some 30 people to prison sentences of three to five years for links to rebel group. Meeting of groups who did not sign National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in Wa enclave 26-28 March resolved to negotiate end to fighting, but also take joint military action if necessary to respond to attacks by govt forces/“other armed groups”. Eight NCA-signatory armed groups held meeting in Chiang Mai 24-26 March, discussed preparations for dialogue with new govt and formed “Peace Process Steering Team”. Outgoing President Thein Sein 28 March lifted state of emergency in Rakhine state, in place since June 2012 following outbreaks of deadly communal violence. At least 21 Rohingya IDPs drowned 19 April when boat they were taking from IDP camp to local market near Sittwe capsized in heavy seas. In first official engagement as FM, ASSK hosted Chinese FM Wang Yi on a two day visit to Myanmar 5-6 April; Wang also met commander-in-chief and president.

Indonesia

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
NGO Amnesty International reported that anti-terror elite police unit Densus 88 admitted torturing man to death in Klaten, Central Java in March. Protests reported in Papua and W Papua 13 April calling for independence and for United Liberation Movement for West Papua to become full member of Melanesian Spearhead Group regional bloc.

Thailand

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) 29 March released final constitution draft, including National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) proposals for NCPO-appointed 250-member senate during five-year transition period following 2017 general election. Six senate seats are reserved for senior military and police officers. Critics, including members of Pheu Thai and Democrat parties, described five-year transition as ploy for NCPO to retain power following general election. National Legislative Assembly 10 March approved amendments to interim constitution to stipulate that majority of ballots cast, rather than majority of voters, necessary for approval of constitution in referendum scheduled for early Aug. Deputy PM 1 March said only govt-sanctioned debates supervised by Election Commission permitted to discuss draft constitution ahead of referendum. NCPO continued to crack down on critics; Pheu Thai Party politician detained 26 March by army for three-day “attitude adjustment”. Month saw increase in violence in southernmost provinces, including at least ten attacks in Yala and Narathiwat provinces 13-14 March in which one defence volunteer was killed and ten people injured. At least 40 insurgents 13 March seized hospital in Cho Airong, Narathiwat province and used it as base to attack adjacent army camp, wounding seven rangers. Three police killed, six wounded in ambush in Rangae, Narathiwat 29 March; Pattani rocked by several explosions 30-31 March, one person killed.

Philippines

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim 7 March said MILF will uphold Mindanao peace process ahead of May elections, appealed to international supporters of process to influence new govt to implement 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB); warned about growing frustration over Congress’s failure to pass Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) leading to fringe militant groups allying with Islamic State (IS) to establish stronghold on southern islands; said MILF working to dissuade IS-allied militants from launching attacks. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., author and sponsor of alternative to BBL, 24 March said implementing peace process best deterrent against IS influence in Philippines. Clashes continued between military and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao. Two New People’s Army (NPA) bomb attacks 20 March wounded four soldiers and two civilians in Bicol region. Military confirmed Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militant Radullan Sahiron, wanted by U.S. for $1 mn, injured in 18 March firefight with govt security forces in Patikul. One ASG reported killed 23 March in MILF ambush. ASG reportedly kidnapped ten Indonesian sailors late month. IS-linked Ansaru’l Khilafah Philippines 17 March released video purporting to show beheading of man working for police.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
MPs 15 March overwhelmingly elected Aung San Suu Kyi confidant Htin Kyaw as president, with retired Lt-Gen Myint Swe and Henry Van Thio becoming VPs. Htin Kyaw and Henry Van Thio both National League for Democracy (NLD) nominees, both seen as Suu Kyi proxies; Myint Swe selected as nominee by military bloc, seen as military hardliner. Legislature 24 March approved President-elect’s eighteen nominees for 21 ministries without discussion; list includes Suu Kyi, who will hold four portfolios: foreign affairs, education, energy and president office. Others include technocrats, NLD leaders and some members of other political parties. Htin Kyaw sworn in as president 30 March, spoke of need for democratic constitution. Speaking at Armed Forces Day 27 March, marked with 10,000 military personnel parading in Naypyitaw, commander-in-chief said military must remain a political force. Work continued on peace process at procedural level, particularly on joint ceasefire monitoring mechanisms at national and state/region levels. Situation remains unstable in many areas, with new clashes causing significant displacement. Fighting in N Shan state between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and govt forces continued. Arakan Army claimed to have killed over 30 govt troops in clash in N Rakhine state 3 March. Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) late Feb announced re-establishment of additional brigade in N Shan state. Political tensions surfaced in Rakhine as president-elect’s nomination on 29 March of member of minority NLD bloc, rather than dominant Arakan National Party (ANP) bloc, as state’s chief minister gave perception of side-lining main political party ANP, which won majority of state seats in Nov 2015 elections. UN reported some 25,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled sectarian violence in 2012 returned from camps to original communities in past twelve months – most to villages adjacent to camps; 120,000 still in camps. U.S. State Dept reported Rohingya Muslims continue to face persecution.

Indonesia

  |  1 Apr 2016

Unchanged
Suspected members of armed wing of Free Papua Movement 15 March attacked highway project in Papua’s Puncak municipality, killing four construction workers and kidnapping two; govt said construction project would continue, with extra security. Solomon Islands raised concerns about human rights violations in Papua at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva 18 March. Jakarta police chief Gen Tito Karnavian sworn in as country’s head of counter-terrorism 16 March. Rights activists called on parliament to reject proposed revisions to anti-terrorism law including detention without trial for up to three months.

Thailand

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Critics across political divide criticised draft constitution released late Jan, claiming it is undemocratic; National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) officials suggested critics could face legal consequences if they sow public confusion. PM Prayuth 3 Feb said election will be held in 2017, even if the public rejects the draft in a referendum. Deputy PM 9 Feb told reporters that if draft constitution is rejected in referendum by narrow margin, govt could make minor amendments and then promulgate it. Appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) 15 Feb rejected clauses of draft that changed balloting process and placed greater restrictions on who could become PM; endorsed military-dominated “crisis panel” to step in during moments of national crisis and entirely appointed senate. Cabinet 18 Feb asked Constitution Drafting Committee to ensure NCPO retains governing authority, even after general election and empaneling of civilian government, citing need to preserve peace and order. Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra in series of international media interviews late Feb criticised draft constitution and NCPO. Prayuth attended U.S.-ASEAN summit in California mid-Jan; U.S. President Obama urged quick return to civilian rule. Govt announced merger of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, interagency unit charged with coordination of social, political and economic initiatives in southernmost provinces, with army-dominated Internal Security Operations Command. Ongoing violence in Deep South included: roadside IED blast 12 Feb killed two soldiers in Krong Pinang district, Yala; soldier killed in IED attack in Bacho district 17 Feb; car bomb wounded twelve including seven police in Pattani’s Muang district 27 Feb.

Philippines

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Congress went on recess 3 Feb without passing Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), meaning that bill, which is required to implement 2013 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) through creation of autonomous Bangsamoro region, will not be passed before May elections. Chief peace negotiator criticised legislators’ “indifference” and “chronic absenteeism” in the 16th Congress. Following talks in Malaysia 10-11 Feb, govt and MILF issued joint statement expressing disappointment but agreeing to extend ceasefire until March 2017. MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal warned of frustration and anxiety within MILF; MILF leader Murad Ebrahim 18 Feb also expressed commitment to peace, urged patience and calm among Bangsamoro communities. Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) 26 Feb said that Jan 2015 Mamasapano incident, in which 44 police commandos and eighteen MILF were killed, not only halted passage of BBL but also may have made extremism more attractive to young Muslims. Military 10 Feb reported arrest of top Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) militant Hassan Indal alias Abu Hazam west of Cotabato City. BIFF suspected of responsibility for roadside bombs in Maguindanao killing four people 17 Feb and one soldier 20 Feb. Six suspected BIFF fighters reported killed in clash with military 16 Feb. MILF 25 Feb announced it was repositioning its fighters in south to avoid “mis-encounters” with army fighting BIFF. Military reported 42 suspected militants claiming links to Islamic State killed during clashes in Lanao del Sur province late month; three soldiers also killed. Military reported clash between Abu Sayyaf Group and Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu 20 Feb, two killed. Six policemen killed in attack by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Cagayan 16 Feb. Military reported NPA leader shot dead by soldiers in Bukidnon province 23 Feb.

Myanmar

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

New five-year legislative term commenced 1 Feb with convening of lower house, and upper house 3 Feb. National League for Democracy (NLD)’s choice of speaker and deputy speaker elected unopposed in both houses: both positions in upper house filled by non-Burmans, while both deputy speakers are non-NLD members. First session of joint Union Legislature 8 Feb decided presidential election process would not begin until 17 March, two weeks before end of current administration’s term 30 March; later brought date forward to 10 March. Lower house 5 Feb appointed former Speaker Shwe Mann – a key ally of Suu Kyi and third most powerful general in old regime – as chair of Legal Affairs and Special Issues Commission. Suu Kyi held third meeting with Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing 17 Feb; reportedly discussed rule of law and peace process. Local media 13 Feb reported Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy extended their terms for five more years. Facebook 1 Feb removed video posted three days earlier by controversial nationalist monk Wirathu dramatising rape and murder of Rakhine girl that sparked deadly anti-Muslim violence in 2012; video had prompted strong criticism from senior NLD member and warning from Ministry of Religious Affairs that it could lead to court action. Further round of clashes erupted between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Shan State Army-South (SSA-South) armed groups in N Shan state 7 Feb, displacing several thousand civilians. Meeting of Shan State Joint Action Committee (committee of armed groups and political parties in Shan state) agreed 14 Feb that Shan State Progress Party (SSPP)/SSA-North should mediate talks between belligerents. Lower house 17 Feb discussed emergency motion calling for immediate ceasefire and humanitarian assistance; deputy defence minister reported Myanmar armed forces had begun military intervention to end fighting in area.

Indonesia

  |  1 Mar 2016

Unchanged

Following 14 Jan terror attack, govt drawing up plans for tougher anti-terrorism laws. Australia late Feb issued updated travel advisory warning terrorists could be in “advanced stages” of preparing attacks in Indonesia. Amnesty International annual report criticised govt failure to protect religious minorities; Human Rights Watch 11 Feb reported that local authorities in Subang, West Java have banned activities of Ahmadiyah religious community.

Thailand

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Anti-coup New Democracy Movement (NDM) student leader Sirawith Seritiwat seized 20 Jan by uniformed men; Sirawith alleged he was hooded and beaten before being delivered to police station. Sirawith and three other NDM activists later released after military court rejected police request to extend their detention. Military court 19 Jan ordered release of fourteen student activists detained since June 2015 for leading anti-coup rallies. Defence ministry 30 Dec released results of investigation into alleged corruption by senior army officers in construction of Rajabhakti Park, exonerating army. Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) 29 Jan issued constitution draft. CDC chairman Meechai Ruchapan said general election may be delayed from July 2017 to end of that year. Iyad Amin Madani, Sec Gen of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, visited Thailand 10-13 Jan, expressed support for military govt’s approach to Malay-Muslim insurgency in southernmost provinces; 10 Jan met in Kuala Lumpur with representatives of Majlis Syura (Mara) Patani, umbrella group of Patani independence organisations. Three NGOs 8 Jan released report alleging torture of insurgent suspects by security forces in deep south. PM Prayuth 21 Jan said authorities investigating report that three people with links to Islamic State (IS) had visited Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat late 2015 to donate money to mosques and encourage religious teachers to support IS. Violence in region continued, including explosion in Thepha district, Songkhla province 18 Jan, killing one.

Philippines

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) which tracks implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) 3 Jan urged govt and MILF to promote passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and manage public expectations in case congress does not pass it; also expressed concerns over whether BBL would be compliant with CAB. Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte 28 Jan conceded BBL will not be passed before May 2016 elections. Tensions heightened 27 Jan with reopening of Senate probe into 25 Jan Mamasapano incident in which 44 police commandos and eighteen MILF were killed. MILF 27 Jan reported it has set up task force following reports of recruitment activities by Islamic State in south Mindanao, expressed concern over rising radicalism among region’s youth. Thousands of civilians reportedly fled areas in southern Philippines early month following attacks by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Continued clashes between military and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Myanmar

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged

Transitional period proceeding smoothly ahead of 1 Feb handover to new National League for Democracy (NLD)-dominated parliament and new govt taking over end-March. Suu Kyi held talks for second time with commander-in-chief 26 Jan. 102 prisoners released in presidential amnesty 22 Jan, including some 52 political prisoners; political prisoner support groups say 78 political prisoners remain behind bars, others on pre-trial detention. First session of Union Peace Conference convened 12-16 Jan in Naypyitaw, with some 700 participants, meeting deadline set by Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA); substantive discussions deferred until after new govt takes power end-March. Most armed groups that had not signed decided to stay away despite being invited to attend without decision-making rights; three groups fighting military in Kokang region not invited. President, commander-in-chief, Karen National Union leader Mutu Say Poe and Aung San Suu Kyi all addressed conference; latter indicated that she would make peace process a “top priority” of NLD administration. Shan State Army-South, an NCA signatory, accused govt forces of violating NCA by attacking their troops 31 Dec. Fighting also escalated between govt forces and Arakan Army troops in Rakhine state’s Kyauktaw township since late-Dec.

Indonesia

  |  1 Feb 2016

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Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for 14 Jan bomb and gun attack in Jakarta in which eight people killed (including four attackers) and dozens injured; first IS attack in Jakarta. Senior Malaysian police official reported possible link between one suspected attacker and terrorism suspects in Malaysia. IS issued video warning of further attacks. President Widodo reported to be considering barring citizens who have joined radical groups to fight overseas from returning. Security forces late month evacuated several hundred members of Gafatar sect, Islamic sect banned by authorities, from West Kalimantan province after they were attacked in sectarian violence.

Thailand

  |  4 Jan 2016

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej appeared in public 14 Dec for first time since Sept 2015 to swear in new judges. Junta faced continued criticism for alleged graft in army-sponsored project to build park near Hua Hin to commemorate seven Thai kings. Soldiers 30 Nov arrested three United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders as they were talking with reporters en route to park – first instance of open UDD defiance of military orders to avoid “political gatherings” since May 2014 coup. Soldiers 7 Dec halted train heading to Hua Hin to prevent group of student activists from reaching Rajapkahti Park; arrested 38 including group leader. Leaked police memo early Dec revealed Thai police received warning from Russia’s state security agency that ten Syrians linked to Islamic State could stage attacks in Thailand on targets associated with Russia and others, in Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. Several casualties reported in ongoing insurgent attacks in Deep South. Internal Security Operations Command 4 Dec announced suspected militant died while being interrogated in Pattani’s Nong Chik district, third detainee to die in military custody in past two months.

Philippines

  |  4 Jan 2016

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Congress failed to pass proposed Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) by 16 Dec when house adjourned, though did complete plenary debates. Despite widespread concerns that law now unlikely to be passed under President Aquino’s administration, speaker of parliament said he was hopeful that BLBAR would be passed when congress resumes session 18 Jan, prior to long recess ahead of May 2016 national elections. Leaders of Moro rebel factions MILF and MNLF gathered in Mindanao mid-Dec to discuss concerns over Bangsamoro peace agreement, attempts to unify movements to increase pressure on govt to pass BLBAR. EU 9 Dec pledged continued support for peace process, alongside EUR5.5mn aid for peacebuilding in Bangsamoro region. Six people reported killed in MILF attack in Tulunan town, North Cotabato 8 Dec, police said clash motivated by longstanding land conflict. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters reportedly killed nine villagers in south 26 Dec, while govt forces killed at least five rebels in Mindanao clashes. At least fifteen al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels and three soldiers reported killed in clashes in Basilan mid-month; ten ASG and several soldiers reported killed in Jolo island clash 30 Dec.

Myanmar

  |  4 Jan 2016

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Following National League for Democracy (NLD)’s Nov electoral victory, party leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) met with president 2 Dec to discuss formation of transition teams to ensure smooth and efficient handover of responsibilities, and try to set precedent of constructive handover of power after future elections; govt and NLD transition teams established following week. ASSK also met commander-in-chief 2 Dec, without observers; content of discussion unknown, but mood afterward appeared positive. ASSK met with former military ruler Than Shwe 4 Dec, after which he signalled his support of ASSK. ASSK met with chief peace negotiator Aung Min 7 Dec for briefing on peace process. More generally, ASSK hinting she may keep some existing ministers on; and that some posts will go to non-Burmans; has told NLD MPs they should not expect to be appointed to executive. Election commission released final details on election 2 Dec, showing nationwide turnout of 69.7%, high variation across states. Following six-point agreement between Shan State Army-North (SSA-North) and govt late Nov security situation calm, though tensions remain; 6,000-10,000 villagers still displaced. Attack in main Kokang town Laukkai 27 Nov; no casualties reported. Several rounds of clashes between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and SSA-South after initial deadly shootout between them 27 Nov; tensions likely exacerbated by suspicions after SSA-South signed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) mid-Oct and TNLA did not. Rapid movement on procedural follow-up to NCA, with framework agreement for next step, the political dialogue, agreed 15 Dec, in line with deadline included in NCA; political dialogue scheduled to start 12 Jan.

Indonesia

  |  4 Jan 2016

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Non-governmental organisations reported alleged killings and other abuses by security forces on day marking West Papuan Independence celebrations 1 Dec. Follows Nov release of West Papua activist Filep Karma, jailed eleven years for raising Morning Star flag. Three police reported killed by gunmen in attack on police station in Puncak district 27 Dec. President Widodo conducted official visit to Papua/West Papua 29-31 Dec. Guerrilla leader Din Minimi and over 100 former separatist fighters, reportedly splinter elements from Free Aceh Movement which signed peace agreement with govt in 2005, and accused of criminal activities including extortion over the past year, surrendered to Aceh authorities late Dec.

Thailand

  |  1 Dec 2015

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Two of three people arrested mid-Oct for allegedly citing monarchy for personal benefit died in military custody late Oct. Suspects had raised money for royal bicycling events in Aug and Dec this year; fourth suspect, an army colonel also charged with lèse-majesté, absconded. Arrest warrants issued 23 Nov for three more, including army major general, assistant to former army chief Udomdej Sittabutr. Udomdej 10 Nov admitted irregularities in construction of Rajapakdi Park, an army project to honour seven Thai kings; said kickbacks donated to project. Army chief announced 20 Nov army investigation found no army wrongdoing, no need for further investigation. Under public pressure, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan ordered second investigative panel; General Preecha Chan-ocha, brother of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and member of park-project foundation, to select panel members. Govt 25 Nov revealed arrest of three Red-Shirt govt opponents, alleged plot to launch attacks in Bangkok targeting royal events and govt officials. Critics sceptical, viewing news of plot as attempt to deflect attention from park scandal. Several people killed in ongoing attacks blamed on insurgents in deep south, including four killed by bomb at security checkpoint in Khok Poh district, Pattani, 12 Nov. Army spokesman said coordinated bomb and arson attacks in Yala town late Oct intended to discredit govt. Prominent Buddhist monk 29 Oct posted on Facebook that for every monk killed by Malay-Muslim militants in Deep South, ten mosques should be burned. Mid-Oct U.S. and UNHCR criticised govt’s deportation of two Chinese dissidents, who had registered as refugees, to China.

Philippines

  |  1 Dec 2015

Unchanged

Senate President Drilon expressed optimism that Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) will be passed in their chamber before congress adjourns 16 Dec; however, bill’s principal author in lower house Rufus Rodriquez 25 Nov called for “more forceful intervention” from President Aquino to address lack of quorum. BLBAR would set up new Bangsamoro govt, implementing historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which brought end to decades of conflict, but time running out to pass and implement legislation before May 2016 general elections. Business representatives, envoys and local politicians called for congress to pass bill. As militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) beheaded Malaysian hostage 17 Nov, Aquino pledged to “further intensify” operations again ASG and other terrorist groups. Clash erupted in Maguindanao after Misuari supporters blocked road project 22 Nov. Security forces reported killing eight Islamist militants in Mindanao 28 Nov.

Myanmar

  |  1 Dec 2015

Improved

Country held first openly-contested general election in 25 years 8 Nov. NLD won with landslide, taking 79% of elected seats in national parliament (390 seats); President Thein Sein’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) party in second place with 8% (41 seats). Together with unelected military bloc, result gives NLD majority of 59% in bicameral national legislature, majorities in upper and lower houses. NLD also won landslide in the fourteen state/region legislatures, winning almost every seat in seven Burman-dominated central regional legislatures, and also many seats in ethnic states, giving it control of assemblies in four states (Chin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon). Also took 49% of vote in Kachin state, meaning it can join with one of four ethnic parties that also won seats to achieve majority. Except for Arakan National Party and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, ethnic minority parties fared badly, winning 11% of elected seats in national parliament, and faring poorly in local legislatures. Election widely regarded as credible, although problems with inclusivity as hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas, and similar number of ethnic minority voters in conflict-affected areas excluded. During meeting with political parties mid-month, Thein Sein promised smooth transition. As heavy fighting continued in central Shan state, military 20 Nov unilateral halt to attacks on SSA-North, delegation from armed group held discussions with govt 23 Nov. Heavy fighting seen mid-Nov between military and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) around Mansi town in Kachin state. UNGA human rights committee 18 Nov adopted non-binding resolution criticising Myanmar’s treatment of Muslim minority, urged change in citizenship rules to make Rohingya full citizens.

Thailand

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) 5 Oct appointed new 21-member Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), headed by NCPO legal expert Meechai Ruchuphan; CDC has until 1 April 2016 to draft new charter. NCPO also appointed 200-member National Reform Steering Committee to replace defunct NRC. Members of European parliament 8 Oct condemned military govt for trying civilians in military courts, delaying elections, and curbing rights of free speech and assembly; adopted non-binding resolution urging Thai authorities lift repressive restrictions on political rights. Govt 12 Oct announced it would issue administrative order to seize $16mn of former PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s assets as compensation for losses in her govt’s rice subsidy scheme. Activists opposed to govt plan for single internet gateway that would create firewall, similar to China and DPRK, launched successful distributed “denial of service” attacks on six government websites 30 Sept. Govt early Oct denied it was implementing single gateway. Hacking collective Anonymous 22 Oct launched attack on state-run telecommunications company. Several killed and injured in continued violence in deep south. In media interview, representatives of Barisan Revolusi Nasional representatives said group not involved in current dialogue process between govt and MARA Patani (umbrella group of separatists based outside country), but is willing to talk with govt through international mediation.

Philippines

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged
Senate adjourned 7 Oct and House of Representatives 9 Oct without voting on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL); session to resume 3 Nov, with new deadline to approve BBL deadline 16 Dec, when congress breaks for Christmas. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) 13 Oct signed “unified declaration” calling for approval of original BBL and rejecting “diluted BBL”. MILF representative said combatants becoming “restive” over delays in passage of bill. Representatives from two dozen countries 15 Oct issued signed statement of support for peace process and call for safeguards to prevent resumption of Mindanao conflict. Deadly clashes between military and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and New People’s Army (NPA) continued. ASG 8 Oct seized Italian citizen in Dipolog, 13 Oct released video of one Filipino and three foreign hostages appealing for military to halt bombing ASG hideout in Jolo island. NPA claimed responsibility for abduction and killing of Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, and his son, citing “revolutionary justice” for Otaza’s alleged close ties with military.

Myanmar

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Govt and eight out of fifteen officially-recognised armed groups signed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) 15 Oct; signatories on govt side included president, two VPs, parliamentary speakers, commander-in-chief and his deputy, attorney general and chief justice. Govt two days earlier removed groups from list of “unlawful associations”. Fighting continued between army and ethnic groups that did not sign NCA, including Shan State Army-North and Ta’ang National Liberation Army. As preparations continued for 8 Nov general election, opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi 7 Oct said even if she did not become president, she would be running the country if NLD won election; and that NLD’s candidate for president would be from within party ranks. Election commission 12 and 27 Oct issued notifications that elections will not be held in conflict-affected Kachin, Shan and Kayin states, as well as a few parts of Bago Region and Mon state for security reasons; later confirmed polls will go ahead elsewhere despite disruption caused by widespread flooding. Concerns continued over disenfranchisement of Muslim Rohingya. MaBaTha 4 Oct held another large rally in Yangon celebrating enactment of “protection of race and religion” laws; thousands of monks and lay people attended.

Indonesia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Some 500 Muslim extremists 13 Oct burned down Indonesian Christian Church and Roman Catholic church in Aceh’s Singkil regency for allegedly operating without permit; clashed with Christians defending a third church, one killed. Hundreds of security forces deployed to Aceh 15 Oct, police arrested three people suspected of church burning. Singkil authorities began demolishing churches 19 Oct; some 5,000 Christians reportedly fled region.

Indonesia

  |  2 Nov 2015

Unchanged

Some 500 Muslim extremists 13 Oct burned down Indonesian Christian Church and Roman Catholic church in Aceh’s Singkil regency for allegedly operating without permit; clashed with Christians defending a third church, one killed. Hundreds of security forces deployed to Aceh 15 Oct, police arrested three people suspected of church burning. Singkil authorities began demolishing churches 19 Oct; some 5,000 Christians reportedly fled region.

Thailand

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

National Reform Council (NRC) 6 Sept rejected by 135 votes to 105 the draft constitution prepared by Constitution Drafting Committee; NRC then dissolved, in line with interim constitution. Junta to remain in power for another twenty months with revised roadmap for new constitution and general election. Ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) increased repression of its critics, including detaining former energy minister and Pheu Thai Party (PTP) member Pichai Naripthaphan 9 Sept, PTP member and former MP Karun Hosakul 10 Sept, and journalist for The Nation Pravit Rojanaphruk 13 Sept; all three released 15 Sept. At least 200 demonstrators 19 Sept marched to commemorate anniversary of 2006 coup that ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, largest anti-govt demonstration since immediate aftermath of May 2014 coup. Police 28 Sept announced conclusion of 17 Aug Erawan shrine bombing investigation; suspect in custody allegedly confessed to planting bomb. Police stated attack carried out by Uighur people-smuggling gang in revenge for police crackdown. Amid ongoing deadly violence in south, main insurgent group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) 7 Sept released video message stating intention to continue fighting for independence.

Philippines

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Belmonte 23 Sept said Congress aims to pass Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by 16 Dec. Recent versions of bill now refer to it as Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR). Govt 7 Sept activated National Task Force for the Disbandment of the Private Armed Groups to dismantle private armies in proposed Bangsamoro region. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 11 Sept threatened to stop surrendering firearms if BBL is “watered-down”; 18 Sept rejected changes to BBL proposed by congress, accepted govt’s official version of 25 Jan Mamasapano incident and expressed wish to “bury the issue”. Justice department 22 Sept recommended 90 suspects from MILF, BIFF and private armed groups be criminally charged with direct assault, murder and theft in connection with Mamasapano incident. Basilan Regional Trial Court 10 Sept officially declared Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) a terrorist group. ASG 14 Sept abducted ten civilians. ASG suspected of responsibility for bomb on bus in Zamboanga 18 Sept, killing one and wounding 32. Suspected ASG 21 Sept kidnapped four people including one Norwegian and two Canadian tourists in Samal. Military 21 Sept launched offensive against ASG in Sulu; reported 1,000 marines and army clashed with 30 ASG.

Myanmar

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Official campaign period for 8 Nov general election began 8 Sept; some 6,000 candidates from 91 registered parties competing for 1,171 parliamentary seats. Electoral commission rejected 100 candidates, many of them Muslim including Rohingya; about twenty reinstated on appeal, including eleven Muslim candidates. Buddhist Nationalist movement MaBaTha held “celebration rallies” for passage of four nationalist “Race and Religion Protection” laws, urged public not to vote for opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) due to its opposition to laws. President Thein Sein and nine-member team of armed group leaders and negotiators met in Naypyitaw 9 Sept: no conclusive agreement reached, leaving planned Oct signing of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) uncertain. President agreed “in principle” to all-inclusive deal, but urged this to be achieved “progressively”. Govt did not accept immediate inclusion of three groups fighting its forces in Kokang state. At armed group summit that ended 30 Sep, seven groups decided to sign NCA, ten groups will not, and two undecided. Signing likely to go ahead in Oct, but with only seven to eight groups. Sporadic clashes between govt forces and armed groups also continue in Shan and Kachin states. Shan state army warned political parties to suspend campaigning activities in southern Shan areas where clashes with govt occurred mid-Sept.

Indonesia

  |  1 Oct 2015

Unchanged

Free Papua Movement 9 Sept attacked residents in Papua, kidnapped two Indonesian loggers and took them to Vanimo in bordering Papua New Guinea (PNG). Govt 15 Sept said it would coordinate with PNG; PNG military freed hostages 17 Sept.

Thailand

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Bomb exploded at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok 17 Aug in deadliest terrorist attack in recent Thai history; twenty killed, 120 injured, most victims were ethnic Chinese visitors to shrine. No claim of responsibility. Second bomb of same design detonated at Sathorn Pier on Chao Phraya River 18 Aug, no casualties; CCTV showed man dropped second bomb into river shortly after Erawan explosion. Police 29 Aug arrested Erawan bombing suspect in Bangkok outskirts and seized bomb-making equipment, seeking two other suspects. Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) late July agreed to establish National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission (NSRCC) to lead reforms after promulgation of new constitution and general election; mid-Aug announced plans to grant NSRCC powers to override elected govt “in times of crisis”. NSRRC proposal criticised across political spectrum. CDC 22 Aug presented draft constitution to National Reform Council for 7 Sept vote. UNHCHR 11 Aug called for release of those jailed for lèse-majesté, urged amendment of law; followed handing down of heavy jail sentences in two cases for online lèse-majesté comments, amid significant increase in cases since 2014 coup. Several killed in ongoing insurgent violence in south. General Aksara Kerdpol led “pre-talks” with Majlis Amanah Rakyat Patani (MARA Patani), umbrella group of six Malay-Muslim separatist organisations, in Kuala Lumpur 25 Aug. Security forces 2 Aug killed insurgent leader Masukarueno Yakumo in Narathiwat.

Philippines

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Plenary session in House of Representatives on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) stalled due to lack of quorum 4 and 5 Aug. Senator Ferdinand Marcos 12 Aug presented alternative BBL draft to Senate with 80% of provisions amended; govt peace panel 17 Aug said substitute BBL may encourage “personalistic” politics and perpetuate political dynasties by balancing representation in favour of district representatives. Meanwhile, MILF panel chair Iqbal has repeatedly said “no BBL is better than a bad BBL”. Senate plenary to debate substitute BBL late Aug. Plenary debate on national budget 28 Sept, Congress goes on recess 10 Oct-2 Nov. Suspected Abu Sayyaf (ASG) set off homemade bomb in Basilan 7 Aug, two soldiers killed; killed in ambush two soldiers in Sulu 10 Aug. Around 40 ASG militants clashes with members of armed civilian group Barangay Peace Action Team 15 Aug in Sulu, two ASG killed. Seven soldiers and 15 ASG killed in firefight in Sulu 20 Aug. Three ASG killed in clash with security forces in Sulu 28 Aug. New People’s Army (NPA) militants and military clashed in Masbate 5 Aug; four NPA and one soldier killed; five NPA killed in clash with military 19 Aug.

Myanmar

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Ahead of 9 Nov general elections, longstanding tensions between legislature and executive played out within ruling Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP): President Thein Sein 12 Aug deposed party chairman Shwe Mann and several allies after Shwe Mann’s rejection of Thein Sein loyalists’ applications for upcoming polls, and amid suspicion within USDP regarding Shwe Mann’s relationship with opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Divisions within opposition as NLD selection committee rejected prominent non-NLD candidates who had been requested by party to run, including prominent former student leader Ko Ko Gyi and some twenty other members of 88 Generation group. Over 6,000 candidates registered by 14 Aug deadline. Heavy rain and cyclone Komen late July brought serious flooding; nearly 400,000 households displaced, candidate registration period extended. Parliament 18 Aug approved third 90-day extension of martial law in Kokang. Ninth formal round of peace talks 6-7 Aug: final ceasefire text agreed, but question of which groups will be eligible to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) remains major sticking point. Parliament 19 Aug approved two controversial bills proposed by hardline Buddhist nationalists, completing package of four discriminatory bills aimed at “protection of race and religion”. At request of UK, UNSC briefed on situation in Myanmar under AOB 28 Aug.

Indonesia

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Clash between police and suspected terrorists believed to be led by Santoso, Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist in Central Sulawesi 21 Aug; one police officer killed.

Philippines

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) 12 July announced resumption of BBL talks in Aug. President Aquino 27 July called for passage of BBL in State of the Nation Address. National Bureau of Investigation and National Prosecution Service joint fact-finding mission 16 July recommended investigation of 102 MILF and BIFF militants linked to 25 Jan clash in Mamasapano that killed 44 police commandos and eighteen MILF. Almost daily clashes in south, including: security forces 16 July conducted raid in Sulu, three Abu Sayyaf Group members killed; one soldier killed in BIFF attack in Maguindanao 6 July. New People’s Army (NPA) 11 July also conducted raid in Misamis Oriental, one soldier killed, one captured. NPA 27 July ambushed military convoy in Kalinga, three soldiers killed. Security forces 21 July arrested high-ranking NPA leader Ernesto Lorenzo.

Myanmar

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Govt and ethnic armed groups met for eighth formal round of negotiations 22-24 July but no breakthrough reached on Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) due to disagreements over remaining amendments to text and exclusion of six rebel groups; negotiations to resume first week of Aug. Sporadic fighting continued in Kachin, Shan, Karen and Rakhine states; army 11 July launched airstrikes on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin state; KIA 11 July initiated rocket attack on govt forces in Shan state, one KIA member reported killed in military counter-attack. Democratic Karen Ben Army (DKBA) and army early July clashed in dispute over newly-constructed Asia Highway in Kayin state. Election Commission early July announced 8 Nov date for general elections. Parliament 8 July voted on second of two constitutional amendment bills proposed by ruling USDP in June; most provisions again vetoed by military, only minor changes slightly broadening lawmaking and taxation authority of regions and states approved. National League for Democracy 19 July announced Ko Ko Gyi, leader of 1988 student protests, will run in Nov election. Parliament 7 July approved controversial Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Bill restricting interfaith marriage by Buddhist women, criticised by human rights and women’s groups. Govt released almost 7,000 prisoners given presidential pardon 30 July, including a small number of political prisoners.

Indonesia

  |  3 Aug 2015

Unchanged

Crowd of around two hundred people attacked group of Muslims and set mosque on fire in majority-Christian Tolikara in Papua province 17 July; one attacker shot dead by police, eleven wounded.

Thailand

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha 4 June told National Legislative Assembly (NLA) he “would not rule out” National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) extending tenure for another two years, to ensure reform process is complete. Cabinet and NCPO 9 June approved seven amendments to 2014 interim charter, including allowing referendum on draft constitution; NLA 18 June approved amendments, paving way for referendum. Current Reform Council members will be eligible for the Reform Movement Council, a new body that will oversee reforms after constitution is promulgated. Police 23 June announced wrap-up of crackdown on human trafficking networks. Lt. Gen. Manas Kongpan, accused of trafficking Rohingya migrants, turned himself in to police 2 June. Police 26 June arrested fourteen students after they staged two days of anti-coup protests; military court issued warrants on charges of “violating national security”; students face seven years’ jail. Violence on rise in south: militants 3 June ambushed rangers in Yala, killing four; improvised explosive device (IED) 6 June wounded eight soldiers and civilian in Pattani; gunmen 9 June shot dead two Muslims in Narathiwat; gunmen 15 June killed police officer in Narathiwat.

Indonesia

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

President Widodo 4 June asked Papua governor to end controversial transmigration program which has relocated hundreds of thousands of Javanese to Papua since annexation in 1969; however minister for transmigration 7 June said transmigration will continue. Foreign ministry 22 June said govt never banned foreign media or tourists from covering/visiting Papua, 23 June said eight permits approved in past six months to foreign journalists. Govt 11 June announced plans to free dozens of political prisoners, launch infrastructure investment projects and confront serious unemployment problem in Papua. President Widodo 10 June selected army chief as next military chief, in apparent break with convention of rotating post between navy, air force and army.

Thailand

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) 21 July received 30-day extension to complete revisions to 315-article draft constitution and present them to National Reform Council (NRC) 22 Aug; follows late June announcement by Election Commission that referendum on draft constitution could be held Jan 2016. CDC 6 July replaced controversial “open list” system with single constituency for party-list system. National Legislative Assembly deputy chairman 20 July said current govt could stay in office until early 2017, election may not take place until Dec 2016. Criminal Court 14 July convicted ten members of alleged “lèse majesté network” for distributing online content it said insulted monarchy, sentenced them to three to five years in jail; justice minister mid-July sought cooperation from France and Japan to extradite lèse majesté suspects. Govt criticised over decision to hand over 109 Uighurs who fled China to Chinese authorities early July. Violence in south continued with series of bomb attacks in Narathiwat, Pattani during month, several killed, dozens injured including civilians and security forces. Security forces 20 July killed two wanted insurgents during raid in Pattani; gunmen 6 July killed village chief, wounded three in Yala; motorcycle bomb 10 July exploded in Songkhla, killed three civilians, wounded three others; seventeen injured in platoon-sized attack on defence volunteer base in Yala 30 July.

Philippines

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

House of Representatives postponed deadline for passing proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) from 11 June, when Congress entered recess, to Sept. Senate 9 June agreed to remove BBL’s contentious opt-in clause, expected to decrease resistance to BBL among lawmakers. Moro Islamic Liberation Front 16 June surrendered 75 assault weapons, retired 145 fighters during decommissioning ceremony; official decommissioning process to begin after BBL is passed. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 8 June clashed with military, blew up water pipeline in Basilan; 27,000 residents displaced. Suspected ASG 16 June detonated pipe bomb, followed by brief clash with security forces in Basilan; one soldier killed, eight wounded. Security forces 21 June arrested suspected ASG member in Zamboanga, seized explosives. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacks continued in Maguindanao; four civilians reported killed in ambush 18 June, two soldiers killed 22 June.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jul 2015

Deteriorated

Negotiations on draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) deadlocked: leaders of armed groups meeting at 2-9 June summit declined to endorse NCA text that had been agreed by their negotiators and proposed twelve amendments (which would need to be negotiated with govt); decided that none of the sixteen armed groups would sign NCA unless all permitted to sign, and other groups (three of which currently fighting govt) should also be able to sign; and proposed current observers (UN, China and Japan) should be expanded to include ASEAN, U.S., UK, Norway, Thailand and India. Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) 11 June declared unilateral ceasefire following pressure from China, however fighting continued; govt has insisted that group must lay down its arms. Ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) 10 June proposed two constitutional amendment bills in parliament; one proposing changes to eligibility requirements for presidency and constitutional amendment procedure; other proposing changes to 30 sections. Parliament 25 June rejected most amendments in first bill, including one that would remove military’s veto power over other amendments. Govt started distributing new ID cards in Rakhine early June to replace Rakhine Muslims’ cancelled “white cards”; with green cards: first ID that does not force Rohingya to identify as “Bengalis,” no mention of ethnicity or religion; holders of these cards not on voter lists posted 22 June. Opposition leader Suu Kyi met Chinese President Xi and PM Li during visit to China from 10 June. Parliament 18 June passed amendment to education law omitting many demands of student protesters.

Indonesia

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

During visit to West Papua provincial capital Jayapura 9 May, President Widodo announced amnesty for five West Papuan political prisoners and lifted decades-old restrictions on foreign journalists in W Papua; govt 26 May said foreign media would continue to be tightly monitored. Widodo also announced infrastructure drive to spur economic growth in W Papua, including large seaport in Sorong. Anti-terror police 16 May detained six people at Surbaya Juanda airport; suspects being probed for links with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL). Security forces 26 May arrested seven in terror raids in Central Sulawesi.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Continued uncertainty over whether March Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be signed. Leaders of twelve armed groups 1-6 May met in Wa (UWSA) HQ to discuss peace process and draft NCA; points in joint statement included: no NCA would be credible while fighting continued in Kokang and other parts of N Shan state; groups involved in Kokang fighting – MNDAA, Arakan Army, TNLA – should be given opportunity to participate in peace process and sign NCA; participants “understood” Wa demand for separate Wa state. National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) of ethnic armed negotiators met in Thailand 25-27 May to prepare for 2-6 June ethnic leaders summit to seek final approval of draft NCA. Heavy fighting in Kokang area continued, with military claiming more territorial gains mid-May, stating only one remaining position held by Kokang; stray shells in fighting between military and MNDAA landed in China 14 May; five injured. Escalation in refugee crisis in Andaman sea early May following Thai crackdown on smuggling/trafficking camps, with thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar as well as Bangladeshis left stranded at sea by their traffickers, highlighted dire situation of Rohingya in Rakhine state. President Thein Sein 19 May signed into law controversial Population Control Bill.

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