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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.

Myanmar

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
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.

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.

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.

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.

Myanmar

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Myanmar

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Clashes continue between govt forces and MNDAA in Kokang area of northern Shan state. State media reported 21 soldiers killed and 128 wounded in assaults that seized several mountain outposts 13 and 15 April. MNDAA will attend early May meeting of ethnic groups to discuss text of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. President Thein Sein appointed eight additional members from Myanmar’s largest ethnic minorities to election commission 3 April, addressing concerns over body’s lack of diversity. Long-awaited talks between main political actors including opposition and ethnic political party reps held 10 April; govt reported they agreed on next meeting in May, to discuss constitutional change, elections and peace process. Population Control Bill sent to president 6 April, following approval by legislature; president to sign into law or send it back with comments to be considered in next legislative session in May. Bill part of package of four discriminatory pieces of legislation aimed at “protection of race and religion”, championed by Buddhist nationalists. After upper house passed fast-tracked amendment to 2014 Education Law incorporating some key demands of student protestors 26 March, lower house returned bill to upper house with further amendments 7 April. Student leaders expressed concern that bill as it stands does not go far enough, and that some important amendments have been removed.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2015

Improved

Govt and ethnic armed groups 31 March agreed text of historic Nationwide Ceasefire Accord following seventh round of peace talks 17-22, 30-31 March, after hiatus of almost six months, and first-ever senior KIO delegation to Naypyitaw 16 March. Formal signing expected May at earliest, although sides need to agree which armed groups are eligible to sign. Several contentious political and military issues left for subsequent political dialogue process, including shape of future armed forces; little time for this before elections. Progress made despite serious clashes continuing in Kokang region between military and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). Military continues to incur regular casualties, including at least sixteen military personnel killed 18 March, but controls major roads, most hills. Attempt to retake hills from MNDAA using air force saw fighting spill across border into China 8 and 13 March; in latter incident stray bomb apparently from Myanmar aircraft killed five Chinese nationals, prompting strained relations and public warnings from China, deployment of military jets to step up patrols along border. Protests by students against Sept 2014 education law that started in Jan continued despite govt 14 Feb agreeing to all eleven of their demands; around 200 continued march from Mandalay to Yangon. Police 3 March blocked protest march at Letpadan, just N of Yangon, 10 March violently broke up protest there, arrested 127; released some 50 “genuine students” and bystanders, prosecutions underway against 69 others. Protest in Yangon in support of protestors violently broken up 5 March, first by plainclothes auxiliaries as uniformed police looked on, then by police.

Myanmar

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

Serious clashes in Kokang region 9-12 Feb as ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, apparently assisted by other groups, attempted to seize control of Kokang capital Laukkai. Attack repulsed, but military reported that over 50 of its troops killed. President 17 Feb declared state of emergency and martial law in area. The fighting, most serious in country since 2009 takeover of Kokang, prompted at least 30,000 to flee across border to China, thousands more internally; sporadic clashes continued late month as military re-established control. Fighting also put huge additional strain on peace process, which remains stalled despite president’s push for deal to be signed on 12 Feb Union Day. 12 Feb talks resulted in Deed of Commitment containing significant commitment to federalism. Only four of thirteen armed groups present signed; seen as unlikely that Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) will be signed before elections. In debate on Referendum Bill, legislature 2 Feb approved by 328 votes to 79 president’s proposal to allow some one million holders of Temporary Registration Certificates or TRCs (mostly Muslims in Rakhine State) to vote. Following nationalistprotests president 11 Feb said all TRCs would expire 31 March, after which citizenship status of holders would be assessed; implies there will be no valid TRCs at time of elections. With citizenship verification process in Rakhine state deadlocked over govt insistence that Muslims identify as “Bengali”, seen as unlikely that new identity documents will be issued to Rohingya, raising prospect of further confrontation in coming months in Rakhine.

Myanmar

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

At Independence Day celebrations 4 Jan President Thein Sein presided over large military parade in Naypyitaw, first time civilian has presided over military parade since 1962. President invited leaders of sixteen main armed groups to attend celebrations. Despite late Dec round of peace talks between ethnic groups and govt, distrust remains high. President called on groups to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Accord 12 Feb, but agreement unlikely. Several days of serious armed clashes near Hpakant, Kachin state from 15 Jan between KIO and military, most serious fighting for at least a year, 1,000 civilians displaced. President 12 Jan convened meeting of 48 political stakeholders in Naypyitaw, including 29 ethnic affairs ministers; meeting reaffirmed his authority to determine participation, also attempt to show priority he is giving to ethnic issue. National Human Rights Commission 14 Jan issued statement criticising police for 22 Dec fatal shooting of protester at site of controversial Chinese-run copper mine in Letpadaung. Eleven sentenced 29 Dec for involvement in July 2014 communal violence in Mandalay. Annual UNGA resolution on human rights in Myanmar 29 Dec welcomed reforms, expressed concern about situation of Rohingya, calling on govt to protect their rights, ensure humanitarian access. UN Special Rapporteur for human rights returned for second visit: met by demonstrators in Rakhine state angry at her perceived pro-Rohingya stance; in 16 Jan statement urged focus of discussions on Rohingya be their actual situation and rights, not terminology. 2nd U.S.-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue in Naypyitaw 14-15 Jan; followed visit by senior U.S. delegation. Yangon held first municipal elections in 60 years 27 Dec.

Myanmar

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Govt and armed ethnic groups resumed ceasefire talks 22 Dec in Yangon, postponed since 19 Nov army shelling of Kachin Independence Army training camp. Commander in Chief 29 Nov held latest in series of meetings with Gen. Mutu and other leaders of Karen National Union (KNU) in Naypyitaw. UNFC alliance of armed groups (which KNU has suspended its membership of) 29 Nov announced reactivation of combined Federal Army; criticised by govt peace negotiators and military. Ethnic Kokang rebels of Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army 10 Dec killed at least seven soldiers in Shan state. Ruling USDP 20 Nov submitted bill proposing referendum on constitutional reform, slated for May 2015; unclear what changes will be put to vote. Bill followed existing election laws in giving Temporary Registration Card (“White Card”) holders – form of ID carried by most Rohingya – right to vote in referendum; NLD representative then submitted proposal, which was adopted, removing right of White Card holders to vote in referendum. Following 14-party talks among national leaders convened by president 31 Oct, legislature 25 Nov adopted proposal to hold smaller 6-way talks; rejected by president. President 26 Nov submitted to legislature texts of four controversial “protection of race and religion” bills; will be debated Jan. UNGA resolution on human rights in Myanmar adopted by consensus 21 Nov; govt objected to use of word “Rohingya”.

Myanmar

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Fear of serious implications for peace process with ethnic armed groups after mortar shell fired by govt forces 19 Nov hit military training facility near Laiza, Kachin Independence Organization HQ, killing 23 trainees; military claimed strike unintentional. During late-Oct meeting Karen National Union standing committee reaffirmed earlier decision to indefinitely suspend membership of UNFC rebel alliance organisation. Activist and freelance journalist detained by military in east in area where clashes had broken out with rebel soldiers was killed and buried by unit that detained him; president ordered inquiry amid scepticism over military claims that he was shot trying to escape. Buddhist nationalist “Association for Protection of Race and Religion” organised large rally in Mandalay 30 Oct, calling for passage of controversial bills regulating interfaith marriage, religious conversion, polygamy and birth control for non-Buddhists. After constitutional review committee submitted report 22 Oct setting out proposals for amending charter, changes to clauses that would allow NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be presidential candidate appear unlikely; lower house speaker stated no changes will take effect until after 2015 elections. Lower house voted to retain current first-past-the-post electoral system. President Thein Sein attended 8-10 Nov APEC summit in Beijing, hosted high-profile ASEAN summit in Naypyitaw 11-13 Nov.

Myanmar

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Govt 1 Oct announced plan not to release sensitive census data on religion until 2016, after 2015 elections. 3,000 prisoners pardoned 7 Oct: small number of political prisoners among released including Rohingya activists. President Thein Sein 31 Oct hosted meeting between govt, military, parliament, political party representatives to discuss transition, national reconciliation; response to Aung San Suu Kyi request for quadripartite talks. Clashes reported early Oct in Shan state including two police wounded in 4 Oct bombing in Taunggyi. Court 25 Oct sentenced seven Rakhine men to seven years in jail over killing of ten Muslim pilgrims in 2012.

Myanmar

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged
Democratic transition and peace process appeared on track despite Union Election Commission 7 Sept announcing by-elections for 35 vacant seats not to be held in 2014 due to cost, time constraints; announcement generally accepted by political parties. Four senior military officers assigned new posts, likely in preparation for 2015 retirement of commander-in-chief. Curfew in Sittwe, imposed July in response to anti-Muslim riots, lifted 11 Sept. Médecins Sans Frontières 8 Sept signed memorandum of understanding with govt hoping to resume medical relief in Rakhine State. Myanmar’s FM Wunna Maung Lwin 29 Sept said at UNGA that Rohingya minority will be offered citizenship if they register as Bengali, otherwise will be detained and relocated overseas. Karen National Union 1 Sept said reviewing participation in United Nationalities Federal Council following disagreements over peace-process strategy. Peace talks between govt, ethnic groups continued 22 Sept.

Myanmar

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Myanmar hosted 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Naypyitaw 8 Aug, ASEAN Regional Forum 10 Aug attended by U.S. Sec State Kerry; Kerry also met Aung San Suu-Kyi in Yangon. Night-time curfew in Mandalay lifted 11 Aug following early July violence. Ethnic armed-group representatives 15-17 Aug met with govt in Yangon, made progress on text of nationwide ceasefire agreement, but significant divergences remain.

Myanmar

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Court 10 July sentenced 4 journalists and CEO of local news journal to 10 years imprisonment, hard-labour for alleging military facility in Magwe region manufacturing chemical weapons; sentence appealed, condemned domestically and internationally. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) 23 July announced expectation of reaching 10 million signatures on petition to revoke military’s veto capability on constitutional amendments, part of NLD push for amendment to Article 59 (F) which prevents Suu Kyi from being elected president. 2 dead, over 12 injured in anti-Muslim violence 1-2 July in Mandalay following rumour Muslim shop owner raped female Buddhist employee; curfew imposed 3 July. Aid agency MSF invited to resume critical health operations in Rakhine State 24 July after gov halted its operations in Feb.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

2 members of parliamentary committee 13 June suggested committee would recommend retaining constitutional clause 59(f) restricting presidential candidacy of persons with foreign marital ties; would mean Aung San Suu Kyi could be elected to legislature but not eligible for presidency. Delegation of Karen National Union armed group leaders early June visited Naypyitaw for meetings with president, legislative speaker and commander-in-chief of military. Myanmar’s religious affairs Minister Hsan Sint detained and charged with corruption 19 June after opposing 10 June govt raid on Mahasantisukha Monastery, ownership of which is in dispute. U.S Assistant Sec of State Tom Malinowski 22-28 June headed delegation to Myanmar, said there is potential for more comprehensive bilateral engagement including non-combat military ties.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Govt, Kachin Independence Organisation leaders met 13 May for bilateral talks following April clashes; representatives of other ethnic groups, UN, China attended as observers: agreement reached on establishing joint conflict resolution committee. Another round of multilateral peace talks between govt, various armed groups held 19-21 May. Enumeration period for controversial census extended to 10 June to reach populations in Kachin, Rakhine states. Opposition NLD, 88 Generation group held series of joint rallies across country pushing for constitutional change. Election commission 15 May consulted with political parties after releasing draft of new campaigning regulations; draft criticised for restricting ability to campaign freely.

Myanmar

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

National census went ahead 30 March-10 April, extended to end-April to allow time to collect data from difficult/hard-to-reach areas. Census enumeration accompanied by large military security operations in parts of Rakhine and Kachin, escalating in Kachin into armed clashes with Kachin Independence Organisation (which did not allow enumeration in areas under its control), causing estimated 5,000 people to flee, govt reports of 22 combatant deaths on both sides, in most serious clashes since early 2013. Following govt’s 29 March decision that Rohingya would not be allowed to self-identify as such in census, no credible enumeration of Rohingya households took place, sparking international criticism. Latest round of ceasefire negotiations between govt and ethnic armed groups in Yangon 5-8 April, resulting in first draft of single consolidated text for nationwide ceasefire accord, though with disagreement on some points relating to federalism, use of term “revolutionary” for armed groups, recognition of interim administrative authority of armed groups in their areas. Next meeting planned early May. In speech marking 3-year anniversary of his administration, President Thein Sein noted military had to continue to play political role during transition, but needed to reduce role as democratisation progressed. Brawl resulting from personal dispute in Hlegu, near Yangon, escalated into attacks on mosque and Muslim-owned properties by Buddhist mob 4 April. Democratic Voice of Burma reporter jailed for one year for “trespassing”, “disturbing a civil servant” while investigating operation of foreign-funded educational scholarship program; move condemned by local media, rights groups.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2014

Risk Alert

Controversial UN/donor-backed census began 30 March amid fears of intercommunal violence in Rakhine state, as Rakhine nationalists threatened to boycott census over issue of people being allowed to self-identify ethnicity as Rohingya; called off boycott after govt 29 March decided to prevent people self-identifying as Rohingya. Protests in Rakhine state mid-month against census, escalated to attacks on offices and homes of international humanitarian workers 26-27 March; 1 bystander killed by police warning shot; some 100 humanitarian staff evacuated to Yangon. Commission established by President Thein Sein to investigate allegations of killings of Rohingya villagers in Du Chee Yar Tan village in Maungdaw submitted report to President 28 Feb, finding no evidence to support allegations; also recommended addressing status of Rohingya in Rakhine State, granting citizenship to those who meet criteria under restrictive 1982 law. President late Feb, responding to letter with over 1 million signatures received from monk-led campaign, requested legislature to consider enacting legislation that would restrict inter-faith marriage, conversion from one religion to another, polygamy and number of children, likely to be targeted at Muslim/Rohingya communities. President 7 March appointed commission charged with drafting 2 bills on conversion and balancing population by 30 June; requested legislature to take lead on drafting the other 2 bills, in consultation with Supreme Court. Moves prompted condemnation by rights groups. Govt peace negotiators and armed group representatives met in Yangon 9-10 March, reached agreement to work on consolidated ceasefire accord text, established joint drafting group comprising 9 members from ethnic armed groups and 9 from govt (3 each from executive, legislature and military). President met with Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw 9 March, 5th formal meeting.

Myanmar

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

UN 23 Jan stated it had credible information of killings of at least 48 Rohingya in N Rakhine State, in connection with apparent killing of police officer by villagers. Govt “strongly objected” to claims; 2 out of 3 national investigations arranged by govt failed to find evidence of Rohingya killings, 3rd yet to report. Govt reportedly suspended operations of Médecins Sans Frontières in Rakhine state, saying NGO was biased in favour of Rohingya minority. Rights NGO Fortify Rights issued report citing evidence of govt discrimination against Rohingya. 2 political leaders from Rakhine Buddhist community allegedly victims of assassination attempt 7 Feb while visiting Malaysia. 20-25 Jan conference of nearly all ethnic armed groups at Karen National Union HQ reached agreement on common position in negotiations with govt on nationwide ceasefire accord; formal negotiations between ethnic armed groups and govt currently scheduled mid-March. Clash broke out between army and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) 10 Feb near KIO’s Laiza HQ, most serious in several months. Constitutional Review Joint Committee submitted report to legislature 31 Jan; new 31-member “Implementation Committee for Amendment of the Constitution” established 3 Feb, tasked with making specific recommendations for constitutional change including draft bill with proposed new constitutional language. Speaker 18 Feb issued instructions to committee indicating it should complete tasks at least 6 months before 2015 elections. Authorities early Feb arrested several journalists and editor of local Unity journal, charged them under Official Secrets Act for publishing article about alleged military chemical weapons factory. Alliance of main ethnic political parties 2 Feb issued statement calling for review of how census planned for late-March will be conducted, particularly system of classifying ethnic identity.

Myanmar

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Karen National Union armed group delegation met with President Thein Sein and commander-in-chief in Naypyitaw 5 Jan to discuss plans for meeting between govt and all armed groups in Karen State capital Hpa-an, now scheduled 20 Feb. Allegations emerged 15 Jan of massacre by authorities and local Rakhine Buddhist villagers of Rohingya villagers several days earlier in remote part of N Rakhine State; govt denied. Major meeting of thousands of Buddhist monks in Mandalay 15 Jan resolved to push for adoption of law restricting inter-faith marriage, ban on MPs not from recognized national race. President 2 Jan issued pardon reducing prison sentences for all detainees; 13,274 inmates released including some political prisoners; estimated 33 political prisoners remain. Following end-Dec deadline for public submissions, Constitutional Review Joint Committee announced it had received some 300,000 suggestions for amendment of 2008 constitution; due to report to legislative speaker end-Jan. President 2 Jan backed appropriate changes to section 59(f) which sets out requirements for presidential candidates, though unclear on specific language and whether this would allow Aung San Suu Kyi to be a presidential candidate. Myanmar formally took over as ASEAN Chair for 2014.

Myanmar

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Next round of govt-ethnic armed group dialogue, planned for late-Dec, postponed until Jan/Feb to give both sides time for further technical-level discussion of key issues. Authorities 26 Nov announced they had charged 93 people in connection with Oct anti-Muslim violence in Rakhine State town of Thandwe that left 7 dead, many homes destroyed. Opposition NLD 25 Nov proposed quadripartite talks (NLD, President, legislature, military) on amending constitution; rejected by President Thein Sein, who indicated he did not want to overstep legislature, and that outcome of its constitutional review committee, due to report end-Jan, should be awaited. NLD 28 Dec announced it would contest 2015 general election even if constitution is not amended to remove article disqualifying candidates whose spouse or children are citizens of a foreign country from becoming president/VP – which would bar NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi; ruling USDP 30 Dec submitted recommendations to constitutional review committee, reportedly including suggestion to amend article. Govt 10 Dec pardoned 41 political prisoners, leaving an estimated 44 in prison; President 31 Dec issued pardon releasing people charged under several old repressive laws. U.S. 17 Dec blacklisted Myanmar army officer and 2 military-linked companies it accused of continuing illegal arms trading relations with DPRK.

Myanmar

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Unprecedented meeting between leaders of almost all ethnic armed groups hosted by Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) at their Laiza HQ 30 Oct-2 Nov followed by meeting in Kachin State capital Myitkyina between armed group leaders and govt 3-5 Nov. Discussed draft text for Nationwide Ceasefire Accord; no final agreement, but parties agreed to follow-up meeting in Karen State capital in Dec; govt still hopes to hold nationwide ceasefire signing ceremony early 2014. Senior KIO leader General Gun Maw visited Yangon mid-Nov for talks with Myanmar Peace Centre and Kachin community leaders, gave public speech, in govt-approved visit. Fighting flared in Mansi township, Kachin State in recent weeks, displacing several hundred civilians. Rakhine State authorities late Oct brought charges against 61 people (out of 78 initially arrested), majority Buddhists, for various offences including murder in relation to anti-Muslim violence in Thandwe town. Govt 15 Nov released 69 political prisoners; estimated 60 still in jail. EU began €10m program providing police training on riot control, community policing. OIC delegation visited Myanmar, including Rakhine State, to see situation of Muslims affected by communal violence. EU delegation led by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also visited.

Myanmar

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Govt and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) armed group signed agreement following latest round of peace talks 8-11 Oct; representatives of most other ethnic armed groups attended as observers, also Chinese envoy and UNSG’s Special Adviser for Myanmar. KIO committed to strive to end armed clashes, and reached agreement with army on implementing ceasefire monitoring arrangements and other issues. KIO also expressed support for President’s idea for conference to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Accord with all armed group leaders, possibly in Nov/Dec. Would mean country in peace for first time in 65 years, enshrine govt commitment to next political steps, timeframe. KIO also convened meeting of ethnic armed group leaders at its HQ 30 Oct-1 Nov for discussions ahead of nationwide ceasefire meeting; leaders of Wa armed group, country’s largest, did not attend. Govt 8 Oct released 56 political prisoners, most charged with contacts with ethnic armed groups. Fresh anti-Muslim violence in Thandwe in Rakhine State early Oct, with attacks on Kaman Muslim minority villages; 7 killed, scores of houses burned down; 78 arrested for role in violence, which coincided with visit by President Thein Sein to area. Series of bomb blasts 11-14 Oct, killing policeman and one other person in Taungoo 11 Oct, and injuring several including in upscale Traders Hotel in Yangon. Several small IEDs also found in various locations. No claim of responsibility; several arrested including suspect in Traders Hotel bombing. Thein Sein 8-10 Oct attended ASEAN Summit, ahead of Myanmar’s chairmanship of grouping in 2014.

Myanmar

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) ethnic umbrella group met with govt negotiators early-month, afterwards expressed doubts about govt’s proposed nationwide ceasefire signing next month, but unclear how much influence group will have over its members. Over 50 organisations attended “trust-building” conference with govt officials in Shan state capital Taunggyi 21-23 Sept; delegates called for improved ethnic rights, govt official pledged to move ahead with political negotiations early 2014. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 17 Sept said constitutional changes needed to resolve ethnic grievances. Following Aug visit UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar acknowledged progress on several fronts but said critical challenges remained. UNSG’s Special Adviser on Myanmar also visited late-Aug, was granted permission to visit Kachin Independence Organisation’s HQ at Laiza for first time. President Thein Sein 9 Sept named representative of largest Shan political opposition party as Deputy Minister for Hotels and Tourism, 2nd opposition legislator to be appointed by president as a deputy minister. Armed police 29 Sept dispersed Buddhist mob in Thandwe town, Rakhine state; mob torched houses, no injuries reported. U.S. Sec Defence 28 Aug met Myanmar counterpart on sidelines of defence meeting in Brunei, first meeting between countries’ defence chiefs. ASSK completed 3-country European tour 17 Sept.

Myanmar

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) ethnic umbrella group 29 July held conference in Thailand to discuss political demands, 2 Aug issued statement calling for complete rewriting of 2008 constitution and fully federal system including with regard to armed forces, with Burman majority being given single state on par with seven main ethnic groups. Some ethnic leaders and govt-linked Myanmar Peace Centre called demands unrealistic. All Burma Students Democratic Front armed group, made up of mostly Burman students who fled cities for ethnic areas to take up arms against govt following failed 1988 uprising, signed ceasefire with govt 5 Aug, shortly before symbolic 25th anniversary of uprising, in which govt delegation participated for first time. Buddhist monks and lay people 6 Aug demonstrated against perceived “attacks on Buddhism” in Myanmar in the international media, bombing of Buddhist site in India and bombing in Indonesia. Buddhist mob attacked Muslim homes and shops in village in NW 25 Aug, no injuries reported, 12 arrested. Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission visited 22 July for meetings with president and commander-in-chief. U.S. President Obama 8 Aug renewed for another year U.S. ban on import of gemstones from Myanmar, retained when broader sanctions removed Nov 2012. President Thein Sein reshuffled cabinet 25 July, moving 4 ministers to new portfolios, along with several deputy ministers.

Myanmar

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Curfew imposed on Rakhine State’s Thandwe township 30 June after mob violence against Muslim shops and houses; no reported casualties. Over 20 Buddhists imprisoned late-June/early July for role in anti-Muslim violence in March in Meiktila that left dozens dead, mostly Muslims, and Muslim quarters of town destroyed. Some monks and civil society leaders circulating petition expressing support for law restricting interfaith marriage, has gained considerable public support. 5 people injured in explosion near sermon being given by radical monk Wirathu 21 July; Wirathu said bomb planted by Muslim extremists to “silence” him. President Thein Sein 12 July disbanded Nasaka paramilitary border force in northern Rakhine State, implicated in serious rights abuses against area’s Rohingya Muslim population. Govt 12 July signed confidence-building agreement with United Wa State Party ceasefire group aimed at defusing military tensions in southern part of Shan State. President mid-July visited UK and France; during UK visit pledged that committee reviewing cases of last political prisoners would complete work and all political prisoners be released by year-end. Another 73 political prisoners, including Shan rebels and Kachin prisoners of conscience, released 22 July. Govt announced it had signed revised contract increasing its share of profits from Chinese-backed copper mine. Export of Myanmar natural gas to China started late month. India 29 July announced increased military assistance to Myanmar.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Myanmar hosted World Economic Forum for East Asia in Naypyitaw 7-9 June; major multinational companies announced $1bn in investments in Myanmar on sidelines. Speaking to journalists at forum, Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated desire to be president at next elections in 2015; lower house speaker Shwe Mann also expressed presidential ambitions for first time. Head of Shan State Army-South travelled to Naypyitaw mid-June to meet President Thein Sein, only second armed group leader to meet president. Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 23 June reported 21 clashes with govt troops since 30 May agreement between KIA and govt, underlining fragility of truce. UNHCR voiced concern over tensions, violence in Rakhine region following reports that 2 people killed and 6 wounded 27 June when security forces intervened in dispute at camp for Muslims displaced by violence in Rakhine state in 2012. Followed killing of 3 Rohingya Muslim women earlier in month by security forces. In media interview minister of religious affairs defended Buddhist monk Wirathu, leading figure in 969 extremist anti-Muslim movement.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jun 2013

Resolution Opportunity

Govt and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) 30 May agreed 7-point peace pact at talks convened for first time in govt-controlled capital of Kachin state. Deal means that in principle hostilities with all major armed groups in country have stopped. Parties agreed to work on de-escalation, redeployment of troops on both sides, monitoring arrangements, and dialogue to address political issues. Serious clashes erupted in Shan State, with army overrunning Shan State Army-South ceasefire group base on Chinese border 10 May; both sides say they are committed to maintaining ceasefire, but these and previous clashes putting it under strain. Following release of investigation commission report into 2012 violence against Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine State, President Thein Sein 6 May urged end to violence, greater tolerance of diversity, committed to implement commission recommendations. However, local Rakhine State govt announced reactivation of 2-child limit for families in Muslim-majority areas of state, prompting local and international condemnation. Buddhist-on-Muslim violence in northern town Lashio 28-29 May, one person reported killed. Govt granted amnesty to 59 political prisoners 23 April, further 23 on 17 May. U.S. extended some sanctions for further year, eased visa restrictions on members of govt. President Thein Sein 20 May visited U.S., met President Obama, in first visit by Myanmar leader since 1966.

Myanmar

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Deadly intercommunal violence that broke out in March subsided; dozens of people arrested in wake of violence, trials of some have commenced. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter visited early April, met with govt and opposition, called for end to sanctions, expressed concern over violence. EU lifted most sanctions 22 April citing “remarkable process of reform”. Same day BBC aired video allegedly showing images of violence and security forces inability or failure to intervene in March intercommunal violence in Meiktila, and Human Rights Watch published report alleging security forces complicity in what it termed ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in 2012. Intercommunal violence broke out in Oakkan town near Rangoon 30 April, govt reported situation under control, no casualties. Official commission into 2012 Rakhine state clashes 29 April recommended improved humanitarian support for Rohingya IDPs, transparent addressing of their citizenship claims, increased security forces. President Thein Sein visited China 5 April for business summit, met with President Xi Jinping. Aung San Suu Kyi visited Japan, met PM Abe, Myanmar community.

Myanmar

  |  1 Apr 2013

Deteriorated

New outbreak of intercommunal violence in Meiktila town in central Myanmar 20-22 March; at least 40 people killed, hundreds of mainly Muslim buildings destroyed, mainly in attacks by Buddhist mobs; over 12,000 displaced, mostly Muslims. Some speculation that violence pre-planned by extremists. President Thein Sein 22 March imposed state of emergency in Meiktila, deployed military to restore calm. Violence then spread to other towns and villages in following days, no reported fatalities. At latest round of peace talks between govt and Kachin Independence Organization in Chinese border town Ruili 11 March, both sides committed to working towards ceasefire agreement; to resume discussions early April. Situation remains tense, but signs of de-escalating. Legislature 15 March unexpectedly announced formation of constitutional commission comprising representatives from different political parties and outside experts, to review 2008 constitution, identify provisions for possible future amendment. Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK)-led official investigation commission into controversial Letpadaung copper mine project and police response to demonstrations released report 11 March, said police used smoke grenades containing white phosphorous, injuring demonstrators; recommended project not be cancelled. Led to demonstrations by local people against report and ASSK. ASSK’s National League for Democracy 9-10 March held first ever national congress: ASSK re-elected as party chair, most of previous Central Executive Committee also reappointed. President Thein started first official European tour 26 Feb, ahead of April review of EU sanctions; mid-March paid official visits to New Zealand, Australia.

Myanmar

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Peace process with ethnic armed groups received boost with resumption of dialogue between govt and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), brokered by China, and beginning of political phase of process, with opening of political dialogue with United Nationalities Federal Council umbrella group, which includes KIO. KIO 1 Feb issued statement saying they would halt offensive military actions if army did likewise; first time KIO have offered to stop fighting. Two sides met 4 Feb for negotiations, issued joint statement agreeing to ease tensions, hold further peace talks. Aung San Suu Kyi offered to mediate talks, rejected by KIO. Govt and United Nationalities Federal Council met 20 Feb, discussed political objectives, framework for political dialogue, timeframe. No significant clashes reported during month. Govt 24 Jan indicated former telecommunication minister and several senior officials under investigation for corruption. President 5 Feb appointed member of opposition National Democratic Force to deputy minister post, first non-USDP cabinet member. President’s office 7 Feb announced formation of committee to “grant liberty to remaining political prisoners”. Group of Myanmar lawyers and international rights group 14 Feb issued results of investigation into injuries sustained by protesters, including monks, when security forces broke up protests at Letpadaung copper mine.

Myanmar

  |  1 Feb 2013

Deteriorated

Fighting between govt and Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in Kachin state escalated, with violence reportedly displacing thousands. Govt forces used attack helicopters, fighter jets and artillery fire against KIO during month. KIO HQ in Laiza town on Chinese border shelled repeatedly; several shells landed in China, prompting official complaint. KIO reported 3 civilians killed in Laiza in shelling 14 Jan, 2 killed in explosion 22 Jan. Following capture of several KIO outposts, authorities 18 Jan announced unilateral ceasefire around Laiza; ceasefire broken as govt troops 20 Jan attacked KIO base on Hka Ya hilltop near town. Army 26 Jan captured Hka Ya 3km from Laiza. Govt forces late Jan said Kachin rebels set fire to shops in Hpakant; KIO claimed govt forces torched houses in village near Laiza. Month ended with reports govt and Kachin rebels agreed on new round of peace talks. President Thein Sein 5 Jan met new Karen National Union leadership in Naypyitaw. Govt 29 Jan lifted ban on public gatherings. Govt 19-20 Jan convened first Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum aiming to enhance donor-govt cooperation.

Myanmar

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Govt mid-Dec suggested further round of peace talks with Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) early Jan. However, fighting in Kachin state in north continued; heavy clashes 9-10 Dec in Pangwa, Lajayang regions. Myanmar army 28 Dec launched heavy attacks on base near KIO headquarters reportedly using attack helicopters and fighter jets, a potentially serious escalation. President Thein Sein 1 Dec appointed commission headed by Aung San Suu Kyi to investigate 29 Nov violent crackdown by security forces on protesters at Letpadaung copper mine in NW. Amid ongoing protests, govt 15 Dec apologised for injuring monks. Visiting UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos 7 Dec urged aid for Kachin IDPs in rebel-controlled areas, increased assistance for Rakhine IDP camps and better security for humanitarian workers in Rakhine State, where tensions still high. UN envoy Vijay Nambiar visited Rakhine State 16-20 Dec. UNGA 24 Dec expressed concern over Rakhine State violence, urged govt to improve situation of Rohingya Muslims. Following agreement with govt, ICRC 11 Dec announced it will resume detention visits to prisons, blocked since 2005. Following Jan 2012 ceasefire, Chin National Front armed group 9 Dec reached 27-point follow-up agreement with govt in Naypyitaw. Karen National Union (KNU) annual congress ended with election of Gen Mutu Say Poe as KNU chair, Kwe Htoo Win as general-secretary, Gen Saw Johnny as commander-in-chief of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA); expected to take pragmatic approach to ongoing peace talks with govt. In speech to cabinet 26 Dec President announced “third phase of reform” aimed at tackling govt corruption.

Myanmar

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Following renewed outbreak of conflict in Rakhine State late Oct, President Thein Sein 16 Nov held joint meeting with Buddhist and Muslim leaders to call for calm; sent letter to UNSG Ban pledging to address contentious issues, 20 Nov requested Indonesia’s help to resolve violence. Aung San Suu Kyi 7 Nov issued joint statement with ethnic minority parties calling on govt to deploy more troops in Rakhine State and address their concerns; 15 Nov blamed Myanmar govt and Bangladesh for Rohingya humanitarian crisis, said statelessness of Rohingya Muslims must be examined. Authorities early-month reportedly started operation to verify citizenship of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. Court 21 Nov sentenced religious leader Dr Htun Aung to 12 years in jail for role in Rakhine State violence. U.S. president Obama visited country 19 Nov, first ever visit by sitting U.S. president; country also hosted PMs of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, plus EU president Barroso. Thein Sein 2 Nov signed into law new foreign investment law. Ahead of Obama’s visit, govt announced release of over 500 prisoners, including 66 alleged political prisoners. Deadly clashes continued between govt and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Hpakant jade mining area of Kachin State. Govt-KIA fighting reignited early-Nov in N Shan State; 8 soldiers reportedly killed. Thousands gathered at Monywa copper mine in NW 19-20 Nov to resume protests against seizure of land by company jointly owned by Myanmar military conglomerate and Chinese company; dozens of monks and protesters injured in violent crackdown by security forces 29 Nov.

Myanmar

  |  1 Nov 2012

Deteriorated

Renewed violence broke out involving Muslim and Buddhist communities in Rakhine State 21 Oct; official figures report death toll from latest outbreak of inter-communal tensions, mostly involving Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine, to be at least 89, with 136 injured, 5,351 houses torched; more than 30,000 officially displaced. Authorities 24 Oct imposed curfew in at least 2 towns, President Thein Sein 25 Oct ordered more security forces. Govt 30 Oct rejected ASEAN proposal to hold tripartite talks with UN to contain Rakhine violence. Thousands of protesters gathered 30 Oct in Ramree Island to demand extra security measures, separation of Muslims from Buddhist neighbourhoods; 1 killed after police allegedly fired on demonstrators. Hundreds of monks early Oct protested in Yangon and Sittwe against anti-Buddhist unrest in Rakhine State and Bangladesh. Thein Sein 15 Oct withdrew permission for Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to open liaison office in Yangon following Buddhist demonstrations. Deadly clashes continued between govt and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Hpakant jade mining area of Kachin State. Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), govt representatives met 30 Oct on Sino-Myanmar border for latest round of peace talks; KIO sent low-level delegation. Tensions within Karen National Union (KNU) as group 3 Oct sacked 3 senior members; reinstated them 29 Oct (one posthumously). Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 8 Oct declared National League for Democracy’s intention to try to amend constitution to allow her to run for president in 2015; Thein Sein said will accept her as president if elected. U.S. President Obama 5 Oct signed bill lifting restrictions on international financial institutions lending to Myanmar. U.S. delegation including high-ranking military visited mid-Oct for rights dialogue with leadership, military; senior U.S. official said country on “right track” ending military ties with DPRK.

Myanmar

  |  1 Oct 2012

Unchanged

Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) 16 Sept visited U.S. for first time since her release; President Thein Sein 24 Sept made first U.S. visit. U.S. 19 Sept removed Thein Sein and lower house speaker Shwe Mann from sanctions list, 26 Sept announced easing of ban on imports from Myanmar; EU 17 Sept announced plans to lift trade barriers. Parliament 7 Sept approved 11 new ministers, auditor-general following early Sept cabinet reshuffle. Constitution Tribunal judges 6 Sept resigned after parliament voted to impeach them for incompetence. Govt 17 Sept announced release of 514 prisoners, including 88 political prisoners. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation delegation toured Rakhine State, 12 Sept signed agreement with govt to provide aid. In Kachin state clashes between govt troops, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) continued; Kachin National Organisation (KNO) 23 Sept urged UN “direct action” in open letter to UNSG Ban. 5,000 gathered 5-6 Sept at Monywa copper mine in NW to protest seizure of land by company; mine jointly owned by Myanmar military conglomerate and Chinese company.

Myanmar

  |  1 Sep 2012

Unchanged

Renewed clashes in Rakhine State between Rohingya Muslim, Rakhine Buddhist communities killed at least 13. President Thein Sein 10 Aug invited Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to investigate violence toward Rohingya Muslims, 17 Aug announced commission to examine situation, move welcomed by UNSG Ban. Court 24 Aug convicted 3 UN local staff for alleged involvement in June Rakhine State violence, all later pardoned. 6,000 reported displaced late Aug fleeing govt-Kachin Independence Army clashes near Hpakant Township. Navy chief Nyan Tun sworn in 15 Aug as VP; no official explanation given for withdrawal of Myint Swe’s candidature, unofficial reports say it relates to child’s foreign citizenship; Thein Sein 27 Aug announced first stage of significant cabinet reshuffle. Govt 20 Aug announced end to “pre-publication” press censorship, content restrictions remain; 28 Aug announced removal of 2,082 names from immigration blacklist. Govt 8 Aug permitted rallies commemorating anniversary of 1988 pro-democracy protests that were violently suppressed by govt. Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), Thein Sein met 12, 22 Aug; parliament 7 Aug appointed ASSK chairperson of Rule of Law and Stability Committee. First meeting of new central peace committee held 12 Aug; govt 26 Aug signed ceasefire agreement with Pa-O National Liberation Organization rebel group.

Myanmar

  |  1 Aug 2012

Unchanged

Resignation of VP Tin Aung Myint Oo 4 July officially announced; retired general Myint Swe nominated 10 July as replacement, but not confirmed due to possible constitutional issues. President Thein Sein 11 July claimed military no longer involved in policy-formation, 18 July discussed govt policies with opposition Group of Friends of Democracy Parties leaders. During Cambodia visit, Thein Sein 13 July met U.S. Sec of State Clinton, discussed ending economic isolation following 11 July announcement of end to U.S. investment ban; sanctions easing condemned by rights groups. UNHCR head Guterres 12 July met with Thein Sein, rejected proposal to resettle some Rohingyas in UNHCR camps or third country to resolve ethnic tensions. UN Special Rapporteur Quintana 30 July–1 Aug visited Rakhine state to investigate June ethnic violence. Sword-wielding mob 25 July murdered NLD member in Magwe; 2 arrested, 1 allegedly USDP member. Authorities 6-7 July reportedly detained 23 political activists prior to 50th anniversary commemorations of military crackdown on students, all later released. Thein Sein 3 July authorised release of 20 political prisoners. Censorship board 31 July indefinitely suspended 2 journals for violating media restrictions.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jul 2012

Unchanged Risk Alert

Ethnic tensions flared in Rakhine State, following late May rape, murder of Buddhist woman; revenge attack 3 June killed 10 Rohingya Muslims, followed by rioting, killing of at least 60 Buddhists, Muslims; UN estimated 90,000 displaced; govt 10 June declared state of emergency; U.S. embassy 19 June praised measured govt response to violence. Govt, Kachin Independence Army held two more rounds of informal talks 1, 20 June as fighting continued; govt 21 June overruled law banning Kachin Independence Organisation. Govt troops 16 June set alight Shan State Army-South base; rebel leaders said attack threatened May peace agreement. President Thein Sein 19 June announced “second wave of reforms” focusing on economic liberalisation. Press Scrutiny and Registration Department head Tint Swe late May announced end to media censorship from end June. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met govt leaders across Europe during 14-25 June visit. Swiss govt 14 June announced ending of sanctions except arms embargo.

Myanmar

  |  1 Jun 2012

Unchanged

VP Tin Aung Myint Oo 3 May reportedly resigned on health grounds, govt yet to officially confirm. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 2 May debuted in parliament, given passport for first time in 24 years ahead of May, June travel to Thailand, UK, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland. At least 31 killed early May in govt clashes with Kachin Independence Army (KIA); KIA rebels 15 May appealed to UNSG for UN observers to monitor conflict zone. President Thein Sein 3 May named as chairman of new peace team to negotiate with armed groups. Govt, Shan State Army rebels 19 May agreed to enforce ceasefire, eradicate drug production in area; armed clashes occurred 23 May. Rare protests in Yangon, Mandalay, other cities late May over electricity shortages, govt appealed for understanding. G8 leaders 19 May praised ongoing political reforms. U.S. Secretary of State Clinton 17 May announced easing of investment ban, named new ambassador, called for release of remaining political prisoners. Following first official visit for 9 years, Amnesty International report released 24 May noted major human rights improvements in past year, but expressed concern over continued violations. During 14 May visit by South Korean President Lee, President Thein Sein pledged to abide by UNSC resolutions on DPRK’s nuclear program, halt weapons purchases from DPRK. MPs 10 May visited European Parliament, met with European Council President van Rompuy, EU High Representative Ashton.

Myanmar

  |  1 May 2012

Unchanged

Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD opposition party, won 43 of 45 available seats in 1 April by-elections; NLD temporarily boycotted resumption of parliament in dispute over language in swearing-in oath. During 3 day visit UNSG Ban 30 April addressed parliament, praised reforms. Diplomatic visits continued throughout month including by UK PM Cameron, Italian FM Terzi, EU High Representative Ashton. Western govts announced easing of sanctions, arms embargoes to remain; Karen National Union (KNU) 8 April cautioned against lifting sanctions too quickly. Japanese govt pledged to cancel $3.72bn debt, resume aid, loans during President Thein Sein’s 20-25 April Tokyo visit. KNU, govt 6 April signed 13-point agreement on peace process; KNU 7 April met with Thein Sein, 8 April with Suu Kyi; no progress on Kachin Independence Organisation talks, Thein Sein 30 April named new negotiating team; armed clashes continued.

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