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BURMA RELATED NEWS – JUNE 09-11, 2012
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AP – State of emergency declared for western Myanmar
AP – Police collect bodies in strife-torn Myanmar town
Reuters – Myanmar president says unrest threatens move to democracy
Reuters – EU welcomes “measured” Myanmar response to rioting
Reuters – Myanmar steps up security after Muslim-Buddhist violence
AFP – Bangladesh steps up security along Myanmar border
AFP – Myanmar beefs up security amid sectarian clashes
AFP – Troops patrol strife-hit Myanmar state
AFP – Reforms open Myanmar tourist floodgates
CNN – U.N. withdrawing staff from scene of unrest in western Myanmar
Guardian(UK) – Burma clashes kill scores despite curfew imposed in Arakan state
IRIN – MYANMAR: Kachin conflict continues one year on
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Myanmar minister to visit Philippines
IANS – Myanmar gas exploration contract inked
Calcutta News.Net – Myanmar refugees do not want to quit India
UPI – Myanmar declares emergency after 17 die
UPI – Myanmar violence troubles London
BBC News – Burma violence: Tension high in Rakhine state
Bernama – Myanmar refugee sent to jail for two-year-old stepson’s death
Bernama – Emergency Rule In Rakhine May Be Lifted Soon, Says Myanmar Envoy
Channel NewsAsia – Myanmar govt, Kayinni ethnic group sign peace deal
International Business Times – Tri-lateral contract signed for onshore Nat Gas exploration in Myanmar
VOA News – Violence Escalates in Burma’s Rakhine State
The Irrawaddy – The Lady of Mae Sot
The Irrawaddy – Police Begin Clean-up in Sittwe
The Irrawaddy – Gold Miners March on Naypyidaw
Mizzima News – Thein Sein in TV address asks for calm
Mizzima News – Australia to provide $80 million for Burma schools
Mizzima News – Singapore firm wins exploration rights
DVB News – Hackers target DVB website
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State of emergency declared for western Myanmar
Associated Press – 13 hrs ago

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s president has declared a state of emergency in a western state where sectarian tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have unleashed deadly violence. He warned that if the situation spun out of control, it could jeopardize the democratic reforms he has been instituting since taking office last year.

It is the first time Thein Sein has invoked the measure since becoming president. A state of emergency effectively allows the military to take over administrative functions for Rakhine State, a coastal region that borders Bangladesh.

The move follows rioting on Friday in two Rakhine areas that state media say left at least seven people dead and 17 wounded, and saw hundreds of houses burned down. The unrest spread on Saturday and Sunday, though order was said to have been restored in the areas shaken by Friday’s violence.

In a nine-minute speech televised nationally Sunday night, Thein Sein said that the violence in Rakhine State was fanned by dissatisfaction harbored by different religious and ethnic groups, hatred and the desire for vengeance.

“If this endless anarchic vengeance and deadly acts continue, there is the danger of them spreading to other parts and being overwhelmed by subversive influences,” he said. “If that happens, it can severely affect peace and tranquility and our nascent democratic reforms and the development of the country.”

The accounts in state media blamed Friday’s rioting in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships on 1,000 “terrorists,” but residents’ accounts made clear they were Muslims. The unrest seemed to be a reaction to the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of 300 Buddhists. The lynch mob was apparently provoked by leaflets discussing the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslim men.

The violence reflects long-standing tensions in Rakhine state between Buddhist residents and Muslims, many of whom are considered to be illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government does not recognize the Muslims in the area, who term themselves Rohingyas, as one of the country’s national minorities. Although the basic problem is a local one, there is fear that the trouble could spread elsewhere because the split also runs along religious lines.

“I would like to call upon the people, political parties, religious leaders and the media to join hands with the government with a sense of duty, to help restore peace and stability and to prevent further escalation of violence,” Thein Sein said.

Shops in the state capital, Sittwe, were closed and the busy port city was unusually quiet Sunday, according to residents, though some neighborhoods experienced trouble.

“Some houses were set on fire by the Muslims today in Sittwe and four Rakhine villagers arrived at the hospital with knife wounds,” said Nu Nu Tha, a Sittwe resident contacted by phone.

“Almost all shops are closed and people live in fear that the Muslims might attack the Rakhine population. I am very scared and I have sent my children to Yangon by plane,” Nu Nu Tha said.

Army troops had been deployed Friday in Maungdaw and Buthidaung to help police keep order, and security officials were reported to have fired shots to quell the violence. Curfews were also imposed.

In contrast to the previous military regime, Thein Sein’s government has been relatively open in releasing timely information about the recent trouble. Under the former ruling junta, such incidents usually went unreported or were referred to only in brief, cryptic fashion.

Thein Sein was elected with the backing of the military, but discarded many of its repressive policies to seek accommodation with the pro-democracy movement of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

In Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, on Sunday, Buddhist monks and people from Rakhine state — about 500 in all — went to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most revered Buddhist shrine, to say prayers for the murdered girl and those killed in the clashes.

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Police collect bodies in strife-torn Myanmar town
Associated Press – 1 hr 47 mins ago

SITTWE, Myanmar (AP) — With fearful residents cowering indoors, security forces patrolling a tense town in western Myanmar collected bodies Monday from the debris of homes burned down over the weekend in some of the country’s deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years.

The Buddhist-Muslim violence, which has left at least seven people dead and hundreds of homes torched since Friday, poses one the biggest tests yet for Myanmar’s new government as it struggles to reform the nation after generations of military rule. The handling of the unrest will draw close scrutiny from Western powers, which have praised President Thein Sein’s administration in recent months and rewarded it by easing years of harsh economic sanctions.

Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in the region late Sunday and pleaded for an end to the “endless anarchic vengeance,” warning that if the situation spun out of control, it could jeopardize the democratic reforms he has launched since taking office last year.

“We have not had any sleep for the last five days,” said Ma Ohn May, a 42-year old textile shop owner in the coastal port of Sittwe, adding that residents were holed up and bracing for further ethnic clashes, though the area was calm Monday.

The United Nations said it had temporarily relocated 44 of its 150 personnel in Rakhine state. Local state television said cargo and passenger boats to Sittwe were suspended.

Violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and members of a Muslim minority who call themselves Rohingyas erupted Friday in Rakhine state and spread Saturday to Sittwe.

The unrest — trigged by the alleged rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl by three Muslims and the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims in retaliation — stems from long-standing tensions in the region.

The region’s Rohingya Muslims are seen by the government as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and are not officially recognized as one of the country’s national ethnic minorities. Although some are recent settlers, many have lived in Myanmar for generations. The government position has rendered the Rohingyas effectively stateless, and rights groups say they have long suffered discrimination.

“It’s a tinderbox,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “These people very much feel like they’re trapped in a box, surrounded by enemies and there is an extremely high level of frustration.”

The Rohingyas’ plight gained international attention in 2010 when five boatloads of haggard migrants fleeing Myanmar were detained by Thai authorities and allegedly sent adrift at sea with little food and water. Hundreds were believed to have drowned.

International relief agencies believe an estimated 800,000 Rohingya living in Myanmar’s mountainous Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh. Thousands attempt to flee every year to Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, trying to escape a life of abuse that rights groups say includes forced labor, violence against Rohingya women and restrictions on movement, marriage and reproduction that breed anger and resentment.

In Sittwe on Monday, shops, schools and banks were closed, including the city’s main market and some ethnic Rakhines wielding homemade swords could be seen guarding their homes or riding motorcycles. An Associated Press photographer in the town saw many homes burned or ransacked in the city’s Mi Zan district.

Police retrieved four corpses, including one found in a river that was believed to be that of an ethnic Rakhine woman. The other three bodies were wrapped in blankets, but it was not clear who they were.

Police evacuated two Muslim families from the same area for their security because their Muslim homes were located among houses of ethnic Rakhines, who are predominantly Buddhist.

Ma Ohn May, the shop owner in Sittwe, said she and her colleagues had heard rumors that Muslims were approaching the coastal market by boat to launch an attack. She said her Buddhist cousin, living in the Muslim-dominated town of Maungdaw, had taken refuge in the local police headquarters.

“Her house has been damaged and she is living in fear,” Ma Ohn May said, adding that food and water were in short supply.

Thein Sein’s state of emergency was his first since becoming president. The measure allows the military to take over administrative functions for Rakhine State, a coastal region that borders Bangladesh.

In a nine-minute speech televised nationally Sunday night, Thein Sein said that the violence was fanned by dissatisfaction harbored by different religious and ethnic groups, hatred and the desire for vengeance.

“If this endless anarchic vengeance and deadly acts continue, there is the danger of them spreading to other parts and being overwhelmed by subversive influences,” he said. “If that happens, it can severely affect peace and tranquility and our nascent democratic reforms and the development of the country.”

In contrast to the previous military regime, Thein Sein’s government has been relatively open in releasing timely information about the recent trouble. Under the former ruling junta, such incidents usually went unreported or were referred to only in brief, cryptic fashion.

Thein Sein was elected with the backing of the military, but discarded many of its repressive policies to seek accommodation with the pro-democracy movement of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Myanmar president says unrest threatens move to democracy
Reuters – 22 hrs ago

YANGON (Reuters) – Sectarian violence in the west of Myanmar could put the country’s transition to democracy in danger if it spread further, President Thein Sein said on Sunday, as state television announced a state of emergency in the affected area.

Thein Sein was speaking after three days of violence in the state of Rakhine between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya, people of South Asian descent who are not recognized as citizens either by Myanmar or neighboring Bangladesh.

State television said the president had declared a state of emergency and military administration in Rakhine State in order to restore law and order as soon as possible.

Extra troops had already been flown to the area over the weekend after rampaging mobs had killed at least seven people. Overnight curfews are in force in some towns.

“If we put racial and religious issues at the forefront, if we put the never-ending hatred, desire for revenge and anarchic actions at the forefront, and if we continue to retaliate and terrorize and kill each other, there’s a danger that (the troubles) could multiply and move beyond Rakhine,” Thein Sein said in a hastily arranged televised address.

“If this happens, the general public should be aware that the country’s stability and peace, democratization process and development, which are only in transition right now, could be severely affected and much would be lost.”

The president said the government would compensate those who had suffered losses and he asked people to be magnanimous and understanding. According to state media, at least 500 homes and other buildings have been torched during the mob violence.

“We are working with the religious groups, religious leaders, political parties, civil society organizations and village and town elders to resolve the problems,” he said.

The communal violence is the deadliest to hit Myanmar since Thein Sein’s reformist government replaced a military junta last year and vowed to forge unity in one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries.

The western region had been tense for days after reports of the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman that had been blamed on Muslims and the reprisal killing last Sunday of 10 Muslims. State media said three men had gone on trial on Friday for the rape and murder.

The U.N.’s refugee agency estimates there are about 800,000 Rohingya in three districts of Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh and there have been frequent bouts of communal violence there.

Resentment of Rohingya runs deep among Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist, ethnic Burman majority. The government and many Burmese refuse even to recognize them as “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.

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EU welcomes “measured” Myanmar response to rioting
Reuters – 21 mins ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said on Monday it was satisfied with Myanmar’s “measured” handling of the Muslim-Buddhist violence that engulfed one of its biggest towns at the weekend.

As rival mobs of Muslims and Buddhists torched houses in Sittwe, the biggest town in northwestern Myanmar, police fired into the air and Muslims fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

The fighting was the worst communal violence since a reformist government replaced a junta last year, began to allow political pluralism and vowed to tackle ethnic divisions – moves that helped persuade the United States and European Union to suspend economic sanctions.

Brussels made clear that it did not believe this situation had changed, welcoming the “measured response” of President Thein Sein, who on Sunday warned against “never-ending hatred, desire for revenge and anarchic actions”.

“We believe that the security forces are handling this difficult intercommunal violence in an appropriate way,” said Maja Kocijanic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. “We welcome the priority which the Myanmar Government is giving to dealing with all ethnic conflicts.”

EU states suspended most sanctions after the government released many political prisoners, allowed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party to contest by-elections, and lifted some repressive measures.

They had previously frozen the assets of nearly a thousand companies and institutions, and banned almost 500 people from entering the bloc.

At least eight people were killed and many wounded, authorities say, after fighting erupted on Friday in the town of Maungdaw, and quickly spread to Sittwe and nearby villages.

Late on Sunday, state-run MRTV announced curfews in three towns, including Thandwe, the gateway to Myanmar’s tourist beaches, and Kyaukphyu, where China is building a port complex.

The United Nations said on Monday it had started evacuating staff from the area.

The violence could harm the tourism and foreign investment expected in Myanmar as it emerges from decades of army rule.

INVESTMENT NEED

Western firms are keen to help meet Myanmar’s vast need for investment in health, telecommunications, housing, energy and other infrastructure after decades of isolation.

It also has large untapped resources of oil and natural gas and the potential to be a major exporter of rice and wood. Moreover, Myanmar neighbors the world’s two biggest emerging markets, China and India.

Buddhists and Muslims have long lived in uneasy proximity in Sittwe, where ethnic Rakhine Buddhists were carrying bamboo stakes, machetes, slingshots and other makeshift weapons at the weekend after Muslims were seen setting houses on fire.

“We have now ordered troops to protect the airport and the Rakhine villages under attack in Sittwe,” Zaw Htay, director of the president’s office, told Reuters. “Arrangements are under way to impose a curfew in some other towns.”

Some victims of the violence were from the stateless Rohingya group of Muslims, who live in abject conditions along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh and are despised by many Rakhine, who belong to the predominantly Buddhist majority.

About 100 Rohingyas tried to flee by boat into Bangladesh but were pushed back on Monday morning, Bangladesh’s border guard said.

Five boats carrying about 200 Rohingyas were pushed back out to sea on Sunday, said Anwar Hossain, a major with the guard.

Rohingya activists have long demanded recognition in Myanmar as an indigenous ethnic group with full citizenship by birthright, claiming a centuries-old lineage in Rakhine State, where they number some 800,000.

But the government regards them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Bangladesh has refused to grant Rohingyas refugee status since 1992.

The authorities have blamed Rohingya mobs for the violence. But Rohingya activists and residents accuse ethnic Rakhine of terrorizing their communities.

The western region has been tense for more than a week after the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, widely blamed on Muslims, and the reprisal killing of 10 Muslims by a Buddhist mob a week ago.

State media said three men had gone on trial on Friday for the rape and murder.

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Myanmar steps up security after Muslim-Buddhist violence
Reuters – Sat, Jun 9, 2012

SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar sent troops and naval vessels to the western state of Rakhine on Saturday after seven people died in the worst fighting in years between minority Muslim Rohingya and Buddhists.

A senior government official said hundreds of Rohingya had rioted on Friday in Buddhist communities and an overnight curfew had been imposed in Maungdaw Township.

It was not clear what had sparked the unrest but the western region has been tense for days after reports of the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman blamed on Muslims and the reprisal killing last Sunday of 10 Muslims.

Reuters reporters and local residents saw up to four planes carrying soldiers land at Sittwe airport on Saturday.

State TV said naval vessels had arrived in the area and were patrolling the river and sea off Maungdaw. Senior government officials including Defence Minister General Hla Min had been dispatched to oversee operations and help with relief work.

MRTV said seven people had died and 17 had been wounded in the unrest on Friday, and around 500 buildings had been destroyed in Maungdaw.

Hmu Zaw, the director of the President’s Office, said on Facebook hundreds of Rohingya had attacked dozens of Buddhist villages in Maungdaw Township. Police had tried to provide protection, firing warning shots, he said, without noting any casualties. State media also said warning shots had been fired.

One source contacted by phone from Maungdaw said there had been trouble overnight despite the curfew, with Rohingya trying to attack Buddhist homes.

“It’s just like a living hell. I wonder how long we will have to live like this?” said Mya Khin, a housewife.

On Saturday, Maungdaw and nearby villages were reported to be calm but the Arakan National Watch, a local independent Buddhist group, said there had been further violence and deaths overnight in villages near the border with Bangladesh.

RESENTMENT

The Rohingyas went on the rampage after prayers on Friday. They hurled rocks and torched houses and buildings, witnesses told Reuters by telephone.

The presents a challenge to President Thein Sein’s reformist government, which replaced a military junta last year and says it wants to forge unity among all groups in Myanmar, one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries.

Most Rohingya are stateless, recognized as citizens by neither Myanmar nor neighboring Bangladesh. The U.N.’s refugee agency estimates there are about 800,000 of them in three districts of Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh.

Resentment of Rohingya runs deep among Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist, ethnic Burman majority. The government and many Burmese refuse even to recognize them as “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.

Abu Tahay, chairman of the National Democratic Party for Development, a Rohingya political party, said the curfew in Maungdaw was necessary but it was being abused by the security forces to ransack Rohingya houses and round up suspects.

He claimed more than 100 Rohingya were missing in Maungdaw but people were frightened to speak out. “It’s very dangerous for them. If anyone talks to the media, the authorities will take action. People are scared to speak,” he said.

On Thursday, the government announced it had appointed a minister and police chief to head an investigation into “organised lawless and anarchic acts” in Rakhine state.

It took the unusual step of announcing the probe on the front page of official newspapers and removed from news websites references to Muslims as “kalar”, a derogatory term for Muslims of South Asian descent in Myanmar.

In a statement in official newspapers on Saturday, the All Myanmar Islam Association condemned “the terrorising and destruction of lives and properties of innocent people” and called on Muslims across the country to live in peace.

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Bangladesh steps up security along Myanmar border
AFP – 18 hrs ago

Bangladesh stepped up security along its border with Myanmar following outbreaks of sectarian violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in the neighbouring country, officials said Sunday.

Dhaka’s border troops beefed up patrols in the Cox’s Bazaar district, while police were being especially vigilant in the district’s refugee camps, home to around 300,000 Rohingya, government administrator Jasim Uddin said.

The move comes after seven people were killed, 17 wounded and nearly 500 houses destroyed during two days of clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in western Myanmar, the country’s state media said.

Bangladeshi officials fear the violence could trigger a fresh influx of Rohingya.

Border Guard Bangladesh chief Major General Anwar Hossain told the Daily Star he had ordered enhanced patrols along the country’s 200 kilometre (125 mile) frontier with Myanmar, a large part of which is separated by a river.

Despite the step, a bullet-hit Rohingya entered Bangladesh illegally Saturday and was arrested, deputy chief of Cox’s Bazaar police Uttam Kumar told AFP.

Kumar said police had also boosted security in Rakhine temples in Cox’s Bazaar “in an effort to prevent any repercussion of the Myanmar violence”.

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Myanmar beefs up security amid sectarian clashes
AFP – Sat, Jun 9, 2012

Security forces flooded western Myanmar Saturday to prevent further outbreaks of sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims which have left at least seven dead, according to state media.

Police and military units deployed to Rakhine state — which borders Bangladesh — had “systematically controlled” unrest, which erupted Friday and saw hundreds of Buddhist villagers’ homes set ablaze, state television said.

“Stability has been restored since this morning.”

Unrest flared Friday when at least four Buddhists were killed in riots in Rakhine, home to large numbers of Rohingya, a stateless Muslim group described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

A second wave of violence swept through remote villages early Saturday, as more Rakhine homes were torched forcing villagers to flee to temporary shelters in Maungdaw town, according to government officials.

Seven people were killed, 17 wounded and nearly 500 houses destroyed during the two days of violence, the state media report said without elaborating on the identity of the victims.

Tensions have soared in Rakhine since 10 Muslims on a bus were killed by an angry Buddhist mob on Sunday, believing mistakenly that the perpetrators of the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman were onboard.

It was unclear what sparked the most recent outbreak of violence, with government forces and the Rohingyas trading accusations.

Myanmar, which considers the Rohingya as foreigners and not one of the nation’s ethnic groups, has an estimated 750,000 Rohingya, living mainly in Rakhine, according to the UN.

Another one million or more are believed to live in exile in other countries.

Two government officials said armed Rohingya had burned Rakhine villages in the early hours of Saturday.

“They came from the neighbouring country by boats,” one of the officials told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity, and referring to Bangladesh.

State television later announced that navy ships had been patrolling Myanmar’s waters since Saturday morning to head off any further boats carrying members of the Muslim minority.

Rohingya representatives said five of the ethnic group had been killed by government forces who then set fire to Rohingya homes.

“The violence started because security forces opened fire on a group of Rohingyas (on Friday),” said Abu Tahay, head of the political bureau of the National Democratic Party for Development, which represents Rohingya.

Rohingyas claim decades of persecution by a government that they say views them with suspicion.

Activists say forced labour is common and Rohingyas face discriminatory practices including travel restrictions, limits on family size, and a refusal to issue them passports that leaves them effectively stateless.

Expressing “profound concern” following the riots, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said tension between Rakhines and Rohingyas had been stoked by a “systematic government policy” to discriminate against the ethnic group.

Many in Myanmar view the Rohingya with hostility and believe they do not belong in the country.

“We want to say clearly that Rohingya are not one of the Myanmar ethnic nationalities,” Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of so-called 88 generation student uprising told AFP.

“We do not accept any kind of terrorism. We have a duty to protect any Myanmar citizen that is harmed whatever their religion or ethnicity.”

The violence threatens to overshadow reconciliation efforts following a series of dramatic political reforms that came after the end of almost half a century of military rule last year.

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Troops patrol strife-hit Myanmar state
AFP Updated June 11, 2012, 10:42 pm

SITTWE, Myanmar (AFP) – Security forces tried to restore order on Monday to a Myanmar state placed under emergency rule after a wave of deadly religious violence, as the United Nations evacuated foreign workers.

The surge in sectarian unrest presents a major test for President Thein Sein, a former general credited with pushing through a series of dramatic political reforms since the end of decades of military rule last year.

In Sittwe, the capital of western Rakhine state, AFP reporters saw the charred remains of houses as well as troops outside monasteries and mosques.

Groups of men, who appeared to be ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, roamed the city wielding sticks or knives. Most of the shops were closed and the authorities have announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

On the outskirts of Sittwe, where large fires blazed, gunfire was heard after police entered one village.

Large crowds of residents, some armed with swords and knives, were seen patrolling their community.

Rakhine, which is predominantly Buddhist, is home to a large number of Muslims including the Rohingya, a stateless people described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

A cycle of apparent revenge attacks has gripped the state following the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, allegedly by three Muslims. In response an angry Buddhist mob beat 10 Muslims to death earlier this month.

At least seven people have died in clashes since Friday and 500 homes have been destroyed, according to officials, but there were fears of a higher toll.

Chris Lewa, the Bangkok-based director of The Arakan Project, an advocacy group which works with Rohingya, said she had received reports that dozens of people had been killed. AFP was unable to verify the information.

“The authorities, not just Burmese media, seem to ignore all the Muslim deaths,” Lewa said.

The Myanmar government considers the Rohingya to be foreigners, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants and view them with hostility, describing them as “Bengalis”.

Neighbouring Bangladesh has stepped up security along the frontier and in refugee camps where tens of thousands of Rohingya live. Border guards on Monday turned away eight boats carrying more than 300 Rohingya.

“They were carrying mainly Rohingya women and children, many of whom were crying and looked extremely anxious,” Shafiqur Rahman, a major in the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) force, told AFP.

“All eight boats have been pushed back to Myanmar territory.”

The United Nations began pulling out more than 40 workers — including foreigners — and their families from a base in Maungdaw, in Rakhine state, said Ashok Nigam, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Yangon.

The temporary move was “because of the insecurity and disturbance”, he said.

Local Buddhists and the Rohingya have traded increasingly angry accusations over the eruption in violence.

“We tried hard to resist them but our houses and monastery were burned down by Bengalis,” said Soe Tun, a 53-year-old Buddhist villager sheltering at a monastery just outside Sittwe.

“I had never seen this kind of violence in 30 years.”

Abu Tahay, of the National Democratic Party for Development, which represents the Rohingya, said a number of Rohingya had been shot dead by security forces or killed by Buddhists.

“I’m still worried because there are racist Rakhine people. They don’t believe in peaceful cohabitation,” he said by telephone from Yangon.

Thein Sein warned in an address to the nation Sunday that attacks fuelled by “hatred and revenge based on religion and nationality” in Rakhine could spread to other parts of the country.

He said the unrest threatened to undermine national stability, development and democratic reforms by his government.

Former colonial power Britain on Sunday urged Myanmar to open talks with community groups “to end the violence and to protect all members of the local population”.

It warned against all but essential travel to Rakhine State.

Myanmar’s Muslims — of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population in a country where for many people Buddhism forms an intrinsic part of national identity.

According to the UN, there are nearly 800,000 Rohingya living in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine. Another one million or more are thought to live in other countries.

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Reforms open Myanmar tourist floodgates
By Kelly Macnamara | AFP – Sun, Jun 10, 2012

The hotels are full or eye-wateringly expensive, creased dollar bills are worthless and credit cards are widely refused — welcome to Myanmar, Asia’s next big tourist destination.

The Southeast Asian nation, once shielded from international eyes by a brutal military junta and a travel boycott supported by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, has become a must-see for many travellers.

“Because the country has been so isolated, the deeply Buddhist ‘Land of the Golden Pagoda’ resonates with a strong sense of place, undiluted by mass tourism and warmed by genuine hospitality,” the New York Times said in January, ranking the country third on its list of the top 45 destinations of 2012.

But the influx of tourists is posing a challenge to the burgeoning travel industry in a country where a string of political reforms has not been matched by infrastructure development.

The few hotels in Yangon offering international standards of business accommodation have begun to charge up to several hundred dollars a night for rooms that were half the price, if not less, a year ago.

Even hoteliers admit that the situation is unsustainable.

“To be really honest at this point I don’t think that Myanmar is ready yet to cope with the high demand of mass tourism,” said Thomas Moons, front office manager at the colonial-style Governor’s Residence hotel in Yangon.

“At the moment in terms of availability and accommodation that we’re able to offer, it’s just not enough to cope with demand,” he told AFP.

“People might think that if they come to Myanmar they will have a cheap holiday when it’s completely the opposite.”

While few doubt Myanmar’s attraction to tourists, some people returning to the country say they enjoyed it more before the hordes arrived.

Klaus, a 61-year-old German travelling with his wife in the remote western town of Sittwe, said they were “disappointed” by their third trip to Myanmar.

“There are too many people this time, even though it is April (the peak of hot season),” he told AFP.

“People in hotels used to be so nice — smiling and taking care of us — but they don’t have time anymore… And hotel prices have gone through the roof.”

International arrivals have rocketed, with almost 365,000 foreigners jetting into the main city Yangon in 2011, up 22 percent on the previous year and almost double the figure for 2003, industry figures show.

This year is likely to see another jump, with more than 175,000 arrivals between January and April, against almost 130,000 in the same period of 2011.

According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, there are only around 8,000 hotels rooms in the city.

At Yangon’s famed golden Shwedagon Pagoda, the slow, circular promenade around the majestic golden spire was until recently mainly the preserve of local couples, children and burgundy-robed monks.

But recently foreigners have at times appeared to out-number locals, their cameras seemingly searching for the rare frame not to include a posse of other visitors.

Phyoe Wai Yar Zar, of the Myanmar Tourism Board, said the tourism influx had also caused “unprecedented congestion” at hotels, especially in Yangon, which have begun inflating their prices in response.

“Potential holiday makers may opt for other destinations in the region,” he added.

Westerners used to the relative ease of travelling in other Southeast Asian countries, like neighbouring Thailand, are also being caught out by other symptoms of Myanmar’s long years of isolation under military rule.

There are almost no places where credit and debit cards or travellers’ cheques are accepted so visitors must bring all the money they need for their trip with them in US dollar bills.

While recent reforms mean there are more official moneychangers competing with the black market, the dollar bills must be crisp and clean or they will be rejected.

“Candidly speaking, there have been some tourists who arrived in Myanmar with insufficient information and did not bring enough cash for their stay,” said Phyoe Wai Yar Zar.
But he stressed that travel agents were often able to help.

“It is the nature of Myanmar people to give assistance to the people in trouble.”

The government is scrambling to improve the country’s tourism infrastructure, with efforts to build new hotels and upgrade transport links at major tourist destinations.

Travel is currently centred on four main sites connected by internal flights — Yangon, Inle Lake in eastern Shan State, the temples of Bagan and the royal capital Mandalay.

“A lot of the tourist money is concentrated into certain parts of the country,” said Andrew Appleyard at British adventure tour operator Exodus Travels, which returned to the country last year after a decade-long hiatus.

Appleyard said the company, which advocates responsible travel, plans to take up to 400 people into the country annually but said there was an awareness that all operators were facing the problem of
“making money out of an emerging country that can’t cope”.

“We will continue to operate there and look at best practice but clients’ expectations are going to have to be managed, if they go there,” he said.

“Service is slow, things don’t always work and you are going to have to share places like Shwedagon with hundreds of tourists.”

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U.N. withdrawing staff from scene of unrest in western Myanmar
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Mon June 11, 2012

(CNN) — The United Nations said Monday that it has begun pulling staff out of a western state of Myanmar where the government has declared a state of emergency following clashes between Muslims and Buddhists.

The inter-ethnic violence in the state of Rakhine has killed at least 17 people in just over a week, according to official media.

President Thein Sein’s office issued an order imposing a state of emergency in Rakhine on Sunday, saying “riots and disturbances” had spread, according to the New Light of Myanmar, a government-run newspaper.

The United Nations is temporarily relocating its staff from the area on a voluntary basis for safety reasons, said Ashok Nigam, the organization’s resident and humanitarian coordinator in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

He said news reports and information from U.N. workers suggested that the unrest was making it impossible to continue operating in the region.

Violence in the western coastal area of Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh, erupted after the police detained three Muslim men in relation to the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman late last month.

Anger over the case fueled an attack by about 300 local people on a bus in the Taungup area of Rakhine that killed 10 Muslim passengers on June 3, according to the New Light of Myanmar.

Clashes have multiplied since then, alarming the authorities.

Rakhine is home to the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority who say they have been persecuted by Myanmar’s ruling military junta and have long sought refuge in other places.

Over the years, Rohingya have fled by sea in small boats to other countries like Thailand and Malaysia. The United Nations has estimated that more than 200,000 Rohingya live in legal limbo in Bangladesh.

“What is currently happening in the Rakhine state is about putting grievances, hatred, and desire for revenge at the forefront, based on racial and religious grounds, and that’s why anarchic actions are
becoming widespread,” Thein Sein, the president and former military official, said in a televised address Sunday.

The unrest runs counter to the efforts of Thein Sein’s administration to seek reconciliation with Myanmar’s different ethnic groups and move the country toward more democratic governance. Western governments have rewarded progress in the country over the past year by easing economic sanctions.

Violence in Rakhine on Friday killed seven people and wounded 17, according to the New Light of Myanmar. It said that 494 houses, 19 shops and one guesthouse were destroyed.

The state of emergency means that defense forces will help maintain order in the state.

The authorities also appear to be clamping down on the flow of information from Rakhine.

The board of censors has told non-government publications in Myanmar that it will censor any articles on the situation in the western state that are not based on official reports, according to two people from different news media organizations who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Attempts to reach the Myanmar authorities for comment on the matter on Monday were unsuccessful.

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Guardian(UK) – Burma clashes kill scores despite curfew imposed in Arakan state
State of emergency in western province fails to salve tensions between Buddhists and Muslims sparked by alleged rape
Francis Wade in Myitkyina, Burma
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 June 2012 12.56 EDT

Scores of people have been killed in Burma as sectarian violence escalated despite the declaration of a state of emergency in western Arakan state.

A strict curfew was imposed at the weekend on four towns, including the state capital Sittwe, but clashes between Buddhists and Muslims continued late into Sunday night.

The Muslim district of Nazir in Sittwe was set ablaze in the latest of a series of arson attacks across the state carried out by groups on both sides.

Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, an international agency monitoring Burma’s westernmost state, said witnesses had reported between 50 and hundreds dead.

Multiple reports from sources on the ground alleged that security forces had opened fire on Muslims in the town of Maungdaw, where foreigners are forbidden to enter.

An Arakanese agency worker living in Bangkok told the Guardian her family home in Nazir had been razed and her grandfafather, a former politician, had been killed. Her father was missing, while three of her friends, all former staff at the office of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), were also detained. “It seems police are targeting the educated people like they did in Cambodia,” she said.

A Maungdaw resident, who asked not to be named, said police had shot dead two Arakanese looters during the night. “Muslim houses in Bhumu village [near Maungdaw] are on fire and other houses in Ward 5 are also on fire”. He added that the arson was being carried out “in front of the police” and members of an Arakanese paramilitary group known as Lun Htin.

EU spokesperson Maja Kocijanic said: “We believe that the security forces are handling this difficult intercommunal violence in an appropriate way.”

UNHCR has evacuated staff from Maungdaw, at the centre of last week’s unrest. Locals who had been sheltering in the UNHCR compound were forced to flee.

The turmoil was triggered by the killing of 10 Muslims aboard a bus in central Arakan state last week. The attack followed the alleged gang rape and murder of an Arakanese woman on 28 May by three Muslim men, who have since been detained.

Six boats carrying wounded escapees from Sittwe are stranded at the mouth of the river Naf, which separates Burma and Bangladesh. Lewa said Bangladeshi border units were barring them from docking, and Bangladeshis who tried to send assistance were blocked.

The UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva, Andrej Macehic, said he was “awaiting a response” from Dhaka, having lobbied the Bangladeshi government “to allow safe haven on its territory for those who need immediate safety and medical assistance”.

President Thein Sein last night opened the door to military intervention by declaring the first emergency rule since coming to power in March last year. Observers fear the unrest could embolden Burma’s military to take greater control of the country after it handed power last year to a nominally civilian government.

The opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to travel to Europe this week but may cancel if the situation deteriorates.

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MYANMAR: Kachin conflict continues one year on

LAIZA, 11 June 2012 (IRIN) – A gathering of worshippers is singing in a white-brick church in the town of Laiza in Kachin State, near Myanmar’s border with China, but it is not a day of celebration.

They are commemorating those who have died since fighting broke out on 9 June 2011, when a 17-year cease-fire between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), who have been fighting for greater autonomy for the past six decades, collapsed.

Sporadic attacks have continued over the last 12 months and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen, aid workers say.

“I started running for my life when I was sixteen years old,” said Seng Jatdu, 64, leader of the sprawling Je Yang camp, tacking a photo of a dead soldier onto a wooden board covered with pictures of burnt homes, dead soldiers and displaced civilians.

He fled attacks in his home area after a coup in 1962, which marked the beginning of political dominance by Myanmar’s military. “It is important to document the atrocities of the Burmese army, and it serves as a memorial for historical purposes,” he said.

More than 6,500 civilians now live in makeshift bamboo huts in Je Yang, one of the state’s largest IDP camps, getting by on basic rations supplied by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, and an umbrella network of local donor and community groups.

A letter addressed to Myanmar President Thein Sein on 5 June, endorsed by over 50 civil society groups, said human rights violations committed by soldiers against civilians are commonplace.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said both sides of the conflict were responsible for serious abuses, including using child soldiers and antipersonnel landmines on civilians.

UN figures put the total number of IDPs in Kachin State at over 62,000, including 24,000 in government-controlled areas, and close to 40,000 in KIA-controlled areas. Another more than 7,000 displaced people are estimated to have fled across the border into China.

KIO officials quote slightly higher figures, but it is difficult to determine the exact numbers as many IDPs are staying with relatives or are in unofficial camps in Kachin State.

Aid workers say transporting and putting in place adequate relief supplies are a major source of concern. Assistance for the displaced in government-controlled areas is more regular, but remains in short supply to those in KIA-controlled areas. Only a handful of local cross-line Burmese NGOs and community-based groups manage to work on both sides of the conflict.

“We received two truckloads of supplies from UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] in December [2011], but there were only 300 family kits [consisting of a mosquito net, kitchen utensils, a blanket and a tarpaulin], so we had to split up the items and most of the families went without any extra aid,” said Seng Jatdu.

At the camp’s nearby medical centre, head doctor Sau Myaw, a paediatric specialist recently transferred from the main hospital in Laiza, is treating an elderly man, while her co-workers prescribe medicine for another queue of people. “We have 12 medical staff at our clinic but we are very busy, getting 50 or 60 patients a day. Right now we are facing a shortage of medicines, and a lot of older people are getting sick because of the adverse conditions here.”

The education of thousands of displaced children is another casualty of the year of renewed conflict. A bamboo-framed school built in 2011 was torn apart by a tropical storm in March 2012, leaving children without classrooms or other facilities, and removing an important focal point in their already disrupted lives.

A new brick school is being constructed, with the hope that the children will soon be enrolled. The local government in Laiza has announced that all families in KIO-controlled areas are now exempt from school fees.

There are just 40 teachers for about 1,700 students at the camp. Assistant head teacher Mi Tung Roi Jay, 27, fled her village of Gan Dawn Yang in July 2011, when she heard heavy artillery shelling in a neighbouring village.

“Last October [2011], during the school break, I went back to my village but all the cows and pigs that we had been caring for were gone.” She hopes a cease-fire will be reached soon, but like her parents who fled government attacks in the 1980s, Mi Tung Roi Jay has a deep-rooted mistrust of the Tatmadaw, or Burmese military.

South of Laiza, near Mai Ja Yang, another town on Myanmar’s border with China, there are more than 13,000 displaced civilians in four camps where supplies are also running low, according to Wun Pawng Ninghtoi (WPN) – “Light of Kachin” – a volunteer group comprising eight local NGOs and charity groups.

Access to international aid is slow and only a small number of UN convoys have been allowed access to the region since March 2012.

“At the moment we have more than 40 volunteers working hard to aid the IDPs, and our biggest concern right now is food supplies,” Hkaw Lwi of WPN told IRIN. The group is also in urgent need of mosquito nets. “We are very worried that there will be many cases of malaria with the oncoming rainy season.”

Military operations by both sides have continued despite a call by Myanmar’s reform-minded president Thein Sein that the army should cease attacks on the KIA, and only fire in self-defence.

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Philippine Daily Inquirer – Myanmar minister to visit Philippines
By Jerry E. Esplanada, Agence France-Presse
11:37 am | Monday, June 11th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin will make an official visit to the Philippines on June 14 and 15 to lead his country’s delegation to the second meeting of the Manila-Yangon Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday.

In a statement, the DFA said Wunna’s visit “follows the historic trip made by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to Myanmar in February, which marked a new page in Philippines-Myanmar relations following the pro-democracy reforms undertaken by the Myanmar government.”

The JCBC is a “political mechanism for the two countries to discuss areas of mutual interest, such as political cooperation, trade and investments, tourism, education, human rights, agriculture and forestry, culture and information, and law enforcement.”

The Philippines and Myanmar, both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, established diplomatic relations in 1956.

During his trip to Myanmar, Del Rosario met with Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi who was then preparing to run in Burma’s parliamentary by-elections. In April, she won a seat in the Burmese parliament, where she is representing the constituency of Kawmhu.

Del Rosario said they “held a brief exchange of views” about the elections, as well as on political and socioeconomic reforms and the rule of law in the Asean country.

“We also declared our support for the lifting of sanctions against Burma and offered our proposal to develop Philippine-Burmese parliamentary friendship,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He described as “significant” his trip to the Burmese capital, noting that it was “taking place when Myanmar is at its crossroads of history.”

On Feb. 8, Del Rosario called on Burmese President Thein Sein and held discussions with Foreign Minister Wunna.

The secretary congratulated his hosts for the “political, economic and social reforms they have undertaken.”

For his part, Thein Sein urged the Philippine business community to “invest in various sectors of the Burmese economy, such as oil and gas, mining, agriculture, forestry, and the development of sea ports and other infrastructure.”

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Myanmar gas exploration contract inked
By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – 10 hours ago

Yangon, June 11 (IANS) A contract has been inked on exploring gas at an onshore block in Myanmar, official media reported.

Under the production sharing contract, signed among state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Singapore’s Istech Energy EP-5 Pte Ltd and Myanmar private-owned Smart Technical Services Limited, exploration will be made onshore at block EP-5 in Inpin Tegyigon area, reported Xinhua.

It is the sixth contract of its kind reached after Myanmar’s energy ministry invited international tenders for exploration on 18 inland blocks nearly a year ago.

Foreign companies have long been engaged in Myanmar’s 49 inland blocks and 26 offshore blocks in Mon, Taninthayi and Rakhine regions or states since 1988.

The companies are from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar has abundant natural gas resources especially in the offshore areas. With three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 18.012 trillion cubic feet (TCF) out of 89.722 TCF’s estimated reserve of offshore and onshore gas, experts said.

The country also has an estimated 3.2 billion barrels (159 litres to a barrel) of recoverable crude oil reserve, official statistics indicate.

Myanmar’s natural gas export fetched $2.947 billion in the first 11 months of the fiscal year 2011-12, up about $424.77 million from $2.522 billion in fiscal year 2010-11, according to official statistics.

The statistics also reveal that foreign investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector had reached $13.815 billion in 104 projects as of the end of November, 2011, accounting for 34.18 percent and standing the second in the country’s foreign investment sectorally after electric power.

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Calcutta News.Net – Myanmar refugees do not want to quit India
Sunday 10th June, 2012

Myanmar is embracing democracy after decades of military rule, but refugees from the country living in India say they have no immediate plans to return home.

Spokespersons for the mass of refugees here say despite the globally hailed changes in Myanmar, the situation was far from conducive for them to go back to their original homes and lives.

“At present there is no guarantee of safety (in Myanmar). There’s no system for resettlement,” said the campaign coordinator at the Burma Center Delhi (BCD) who gave his name only as Kim. BCD is one of the groups working among the Myanmar refugees, thousands of whom live in Vikaspuri in west Delhi.

“Civil unrest continues in Kachin state. A majority of our refugees don’t want to go back,” Kim told IANS.

Tint Swe, a doctor and a member of the so-called Burmese government-in-exile, had another point to make.

“Most refugees don’t trust the government’s assurances of better living conditions. Also, with Myanmar opening up, other countries are not as willing to take us as they were earlier,” Tint told IANS.

He added that only political activists were thinking of going back. But even among them, not more than five had left India.

Mizzima, a news service started by exiled activists, is however shifting base from India to Myanmar.

“We have already started operations in Myanmar with two editors,” explained Thin thin Aung, Mizzima’s co-founder.

“Now that there is some degree of media freedom, only political and religious news have to pass through the censors. We always wanted to return home and we have taken our chance.”

She quickly added: “The majority of our diaspora will not return until the situation has completely normalised and there are better economic opportunities.”

But it is not that the refugees are happy in India — in Delhi in particular.

Despite spending nearly two decades in the capital, the refugees cannot call it their home.

One reason is India has not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention that safeguards the rights of refugees.

Worse, racial discrimination is rampant, the Myanmar refugees complain.

“We have to face widespread racial profiling but our pleas for justice fall on deaf ears,” Alana Golmei of BCD told IANS.

According to Golmei, as many as 15,000 refugees live in the Vikaspuri area, with the majority belonging to the Chin state which borders India. The rest are from smaller tribes including Kachins and Arakans.

Golmei regretted that most Myanmar refugees do menial jobs for a living or live on charity because getting work is so difficult.

According to Khai Bawi of the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC), woman refugees face a lot of harassment, at both workplace and home.

“At workplace the salaries are often sub-standard and are usually delayed. I know a 72-year-old man who works from 8 in morning till 11 at night and gets only 200 rupees,” Bawi said.

“Security is a major issue. So many of our women get sexually assaulted but the police don’t take any action. Once we even caught the culprit but they let him go,” he said.

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Myanmar declares emergency after 17 die
Myanmar declared a state of emergency in the western state of Rakhine, where 17 people died in clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, officials said.
Published: June 11, 2012 at 8:09 AM

YANGON, Myanmar, June 11 (UPI) — Myanmar declared a state of emergency in the western state of Rakhine, where 17 people died in clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, officials said.
President Thein Sein’s office issued the order Sunday, the government-run New Light of Myanmar reported. .

U.N. personnel in Rakhine were being relocated for safety reasons, CNN reported Monday

Violence erupted along the coastal area near Bangladesh after the alleged rape and killing last month of a Buddhist woman.

Buddhists last week attacked a bus in the Taungup area, killing 10 Rohingya Muslims in retaliation, authorities said. On Friday, seven people were killed in clashes that destroyed hundreds of homes
CNN said a growing number of clashes have been reported between the two groups.

“What is currently happening in the Rakhine state is about putting grievances, hatred, and desire for revenge at the forefront, based on racial and religious grounds, and that’s why anarchic actions are becoming widespread,” Thein Sein said Sunday in a televised address.

CNN said it appears the government is clamping down on the flow of information about Rakhine from non-government publications in Myanmar

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Myanmar violence troubles London
The British government expressed deep concern over reports of ongoing violence in western Myanmar, adding a travel advisory was now in place for the country.
Published: June 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM

LONDON, June 11 (UPI) — The British government expressed deep concern over reports of ongoing violence in western Myanmar, adding a travel advisory was now in place for the country.

During the weekend, Myanmar declared a state of emergency in the western state of Rakhine, where 17 people died in clashes between Muslims and Buddhists.

U.N. personnel in Rakhine were relocated for safety reasons, CNN reported Monday.

Violence erupted along the coastal area near Bangladesh after the alleged rape and killing last month of a Buddhist woman. Buddhists retaliated by attacking Muslims, leaving several people dead in clashes last week.

British Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne, in a statement, expressed deep concern over the ongoing violence in Rakhine.

“We call on all parties to act with restraint and urge the authorities and community leaders to open discussions to end the violence and to protect all members of the local population,” he said in a statement.

Since general elections in 2010, Myanmar has received praise from the international community. Despite political developments, however, many voices have expressed concern about the human rights situation in the country.

Browne added that London was advising against all but essential travel to the region.

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10 June 2012 Last updated at 22:58 ET
BBC News – Burma violence: Tension high in Rakhine state

Tension is high in Burma’s western Rakhine state after President Thein Sein imposed a state of emergency.

A spate of violence involving Buddhists and Muslims in the past week has left seven people dead and hundreds of properties damaged in the area.

Trouble flared after the murder of a Buddhist woman last month, followed by an attack on a bus carrying Muslims.

On Sunday, former colonial power the UK urged authorities and community leaders to begin talks to end the violence.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation and that the UK and other countries would continue to watch developments closely.

A state of emergency essentially allows the military to take over administrative control of the region.

State television said the order, imposed late Sunday night, was in response to increasing “unrest and terrorist attacks” and “intended to restore security and stability to the people immediately”.

According to a Reuters report, the violence over the weekend began on Friday in the Rakhine State town of Maungdaw, spreading to the capital Sittwe and neighbouring villages.
Rival Buddhist and Muslim groups were witnessed setting houses on fire, reports said.

“We have now ordered troops to protect the airport and the Rakhine villages under attack in Sittwe,” Zaw Htay, director of the President’s Office was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Threat to democracy

In a televised speech, President Thein Sein said the violence could put the country’s moves towards democracy in danger.

“If we put racial and religious issues at the forefront, if we put the never-ending hatred, desire for revenge and anarchic actions at the forefront, and if we continue to retaliate and terrorise and kill each other, there’s a danger that [the troubles] could multiply and move beyond Rakhine,” he said.

“If this happens, the general public should be aware that the country’s stability and peace, democratisation process and development, which are only in transition right now, could be severely affected and much would be lost.”

A nominally civilian government was elected in 2010 and, in April this year, opposition politicians led by Aung San Suu Kyi entered Burma’s parliament following historic by-elections.

However, the government is still dominated by the military and concerns over political repression and human rights abuses continue.

The clashes began on 4 June when a mob attacked a bus in Taungup, Rakhine province, apparently mistakenly believing some of the passengers were responsible for the earlier rape and murder of a Buddhist woman.

Rakhine state is named for the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority but also has a sizeable Muslim population, including the Rohingya minority.

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group and are stateless, as Burma considers them to be illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

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Myanmar refugee sent to jail for two-year-old stepson’s death
Bernama Media – 4 hours ago

SHAH ALAM, June 11 (Bernama) — A Myanmar refugee was sentenced to eight years” jail by the High Court here today after he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of causing the death of his two year-old stepson.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Datuk Akhtar Tahir ordered Mohd Ali Mohd Yunus, 29, to serve the sentence from the date of his arrest on April 13 last year.

Mohd Ali, was charged with causing the death of Mohamed Haslam Mohamed Osman, a Myanmar national, at Lot 1414, Lorong Permai 29, Ampang Campuran near here between 10am and noon on April 12 last year.

The charge, under Section 304 (b) of the Penal Code, carries a maximum imprisonment for 10 years or fine or both, upon conviction.

Initially, Mohd Ali was charged with murdering the boy, an offence under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

However, he changed his plea to guilty after the prosecution offered an alternative charge of causing the boy”s death.

Earlier, lawyer Jagdish Kaur, representing Mohd Ali, said his client”s action was to educate the boy.

Deputy public prosecutor Yong Leou Shin prosecuted.

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June 11, 2012 21:52 PM
Emergency Rule In Rakhine May Be Lifted Soon, Says Myanmar Envoy

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 (Bernama) — The emergency rule imposed on the Rakhine Region of Myanmar following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims last Friday is expected to be lifted in a few more days, Myanmar Ambassador to Malaysia U Tin Latt said.

“Our President has declared a period of emergency rule on June 9 as the authorities struggle to contain explosive sectarian tensions following deadly clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in the region.

“But our government will take an action on it and we hope it will be calm in two or three days,” he told reporters after attending a luncheon of Asean heads of delegation with Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, here.

Meanwhile, Anifah said the Foreign Ministry had not issued any prohibition order on Malaysians travelling to Myanmar.

Media reports said the Myanmar president had declared an emergency in the region bordering Bangladesh following clashes last Friday in which seven were killed while 17 more were injured and hundreds of houses were razed.

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Channel NewsAsia – Myanmar govt, Kayinni ethnic group sign peace deal
Posted: 11 June 2012 1414 hrs

YANGON: Myanmar’s government and the Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP) ethnic armed group have signed an agreement on peace at central level talks held in Loikaw, Kayah state over the weekend, official media reported on Monday.

The agreement on stopping armed conflicts and making peace for development was inked after discussions were made on KNPP’s 20-point demand agreed at the state level talks in March, China’s Xinhua news agency said, quoting the New Light of Myanmar’s report.

The government was led by Rail Transportation Minister U Aung Min, who is Vice Chairman of the Central Level Peace Making Committee, while the KNPP was headed by its Secretary-1 Khu Oo Yai.

KNPP once agreed on a ceasefire with the government in 1995 but the truce was broken three months after the signing.

KNPP was among the five peace groups which rejected to be transformed into government’s border guard forces.

Under President U Thein Sein’s peace offer to internal armed groups in August 2011, peace-making is being carried out in three phases.

The first phase is to ceasefire, set up liaison offices and travel without holding arms in each other’s territory, while the second phase is confidence building, holding political dialogue, implement regional development tasks in terms of education, health and communication.

The third phase is to sign an agreement for peace in the presence of the parliament represented by nationalities, political parties and people of different walks of life.

So far, 12 ethnic armed groups have reached preliminary peace pacts with the government at state or central levels.

However, peace talks with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) remained deadlocked so far.

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International Business Times – Tri-lateral contract signed for onshore Nat Gas exploration in Myanmar
By Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.
June 11, 2012 7:27 AM GMT

Under the production sharing contract, signed among state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Singapore’s Istech Energy EP-5 Pte Ltd and Myanmar private-owned Smart Technical Services Limited, exploration will be made onshore at block EP-5 in Inpin Tegyigon area.

It is the 6th contract of its kind reached after Myanmar’s Energy Ministry invited international tenders for exploration on 18 inland blocks a year ago.

The 5th contract was reached on EP-2 Block exploration in Aunglan region and PSCG Block in Taungdwingyi.

Foreign companies have long been engaged in Myanmar’s 49 inland blocks and 26 offshore blocks in Mon, Taninthayi and Rakhine regions or states since Y 1988.

They include firms from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar has abundant Nat Gas resources especially in the offshore areas. With 3 main large offshore Oil and Gas fields and 19 onshore ones, Myanmar has proven recoverable reserve of 18. 012 trillion cubic feet (TCF) out of 89.722 TCF’s estimated reserve of offshore and onshore Nat Gas, experts said.

The country is also estimated to have 3.2-B bbls of recoverable Crude Oil reserve, official statistics indicate.

Myanmar’s Nat Gas export fetched US$2.947-B in the first 11 months of F-Y 2011-12, up about US$424.77 from US$2.522-B in F-Y 2010-11, according to official numbers.

The numbers reveal that foreign investment in Myanmar’s Oil and Gas sector had reached US$13.815-B in 104 projects as of the end of November, 2011, accounting for 34.18% and standing the 2nd in the country’s foreign investment sectorally after electric power.

Other figures show that in F-Y 2009-10, Myanmar produced nearly 7-M bbls of Crude Oil and over 400-B cubic feet Nat Gas.

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VOA News – Violence Escalates in Burma’s Rakhine State
Danielle Bernstein
June 11, 2012

BANGKOK – Northwest Burma’s Rakhine state remains tense after President Thein Sein dispatched troops to try to end religious and ethnic violence.  The riots began after 10 ethnic-Rohingya Muslims were mobbed and murdered by ethnic Rakhines, in retaliation for the gang-rape of a Rakhine girl.

Local witnesses in villages in Burma’s western Rakhine state said fires continued to burn Monday, even after President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency and sent in troops to bring the riots under control.

The clashes that began on June 8th are the most severe in a string of violent attacks between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, the state’s largest minority group, and ethnic Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship in both Burma and Bangladesh.

“In the morning after leaving the army from the Maungdaw today morning, the police and the riot police they and the Rakhine people are trying to burn to loot and to kill the Rohingya people,” said Tin Soe is the editor of Kaladan Press Network, a Rohingya news agency, which has been reporting on the riots. “Ethnic problem or religious problem, we don’t know which one we can say.”

Both minority groups in the region claim to be under attack, but the Rohingya have a history of being a target of racism. Although many Rohingya communities have lived in Burma for decades, the government refuses to grant them citizenship – a position that has broad support among other Burmese nationals.

Even democracy leader and former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi recently said he believed “so-called Rohingya” not to be one of the recognized Burmese ethnic groups.

Nicholas Farelly, Burma analyst of Australia National University, says the Rohingya’s statelessness between Burma and Bangladesh is partially to blame for the conflict’s escalation.

“The Rohingya, they fit somewhat awkwardly in that borderland between the two different political systems, they have nowhere to call home and, as a result from time to time, there are these episodes of conflict,” said Farelly. “We have seen one of those very recently and it has in this case taken the form of Buddhist and Muslim mobs of varying sizes coming to blows.”

On Sunday, Thein Sein’s national address referenced what he called Burma’s “checkered” history of peaceful co-existence of among the country’s diverse ethnic groups. He condemned racial and religiously-based violence, which he said could jeopardize the country’s democratic reforms.

In Bangkok Monday, Maung Kyaw Nu of the Burmese Rohingya Association of Thailand asked the United Nations to intervene.

“Today, I am coming here to express, to hand over the letter to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations,” said Maung Kyaw Nu. “I would like his intervention, U.N. intervention to save my people who are killed. Genocide is there. I’m coming here to ask his help, intervention as well as the global civil society’s help.”

The U.S. embassy issued a statement urging all parties to stop violent attacks and the government to hold a transparent investigation.

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The Irrawaddy – The Lady of Mae Sot
By SAW YAN NAING / THE IRRAWADDY| June 11, 2012

MAE SOT, Thailand—She is calm, modest, down-to-earth, and a woman of few words. In 2003, Time magazine dubbed her a “hero” for her commitment to humanitarian work.

In the Thai border town where she runs her medical clinic, she has earned the moniker, “The Lady of Mae Sot,” though the international media invariably describe her as a “Burmese Mother Teresa.”

An ethnic Karen who grew up in Moulmein, Dr Cynthia Maung was a physician at the time of Burma’s pro-democracy uprising in 1988. Like thousands of others who took part in the demonstrations, she fled by foot to the Thai border where she took shelter at Mae La refugee camp and helped out by working as a medic.

But her quiet determination and unwavering conviction was to change the face of the Thai-Burmese border. Unwilling to resign herself to living as a refugee, Cynthia made contact with the Mae Sot authorities and sought a building or a warehouse to use as a clinic to treat war refugees from Burma as well as those who had fled the military crackdown.

Along the Thai-Burmese border at that time, malaria was endemic; landmine victims died from a lack of treatment; and TB, blackwater fever, diarrhea and malnutrition were everyday ailments.

Cynthia found a run-down barn on the outskirts of Mae Sot, and the local Thai authorities allowed her to set up a rather dilapidated indigent hospital.

“At first, it didn’t look a clinic,” she told The Irrawaddy last week. “It was no more than a shelter used by activists who had fled from Burma after the uprising. But some of them were physicians, nurses, paramedics or university students who majored in medicine. They could help.”

At first, the clinic received about 2,000 patients per year. They lay side by side on the wooden floors, while volunteers served up bowls of rice, proffered syringes and wheeled IV drips across the muddy compound.

“We didn’t have enough funds or a regular budget,” she explained. “But the Karen National Union (KNU) health department provided assistance to us. They helped us with fund-raising, and connected us with international donors, NGOs, churches and Thai businessmen.”

Through the 1990s, word spread about Cynthia’s clinic. Migrant workers in Thailand and villagers from inside eastern Burma were inspired by its solid reputation—no doubt combined with the fact that its services were free of charge—and sought treatment at what many people continued to refer to as the “student clinic,” recalled Cynthia.

She said that the project started to receive contract funding in 1999—some 20 million baht (US $650,000) per year.

Mae Tao Clinic grew and grew, and in addition to training medics, it began hosting training programs on health care, education and human rights.

The clinic’s current budget stands at 120 million baht ($4 million), $85 million of which goes toward the clinic’s various health care programs. Some $25 million is set aside for education and facilities for children; the rest of the budget is stretched to fund the construction of schools and new facilities, said Cynthia.

Today the Mae Tao Clinic sees between 120,000 to 130,000 patients annually, including those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as malaria patients, landmine victims, pregnant mothers, and anyone and everyone else who turns up in need of help.

Only around 20,000 of those treated every year at the clinic receive in-patient medical care. The rest are outpatients. Cynthia said that most of the patients are migrant workers who don’t have proper legal documents and insufficient funds to pay medical fees.

The Mae Tao Clinic now has about 300 medics, nurses and secretariat staffers. There are a few doctors who mostly work at training medics and nurses. It also facilitates and provides funding to mobile healthcare units in conflict zones in eastern Burma so that they can attend to some of the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons in the region.

Mae Tao provides direct financial support to one school in Mae Sot, but also facilitates funding for 78 other local schools which host about 17,000 students and provide jobs for no less than 700 teachers.

Internationally recognized with various awards for her tireless work, Cynthia Maung was the first winner of the Jonathan Mann Award in 1999, and a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2002.

But the happy ending has not yet been written in this rags-to-riches fairy tale. For despite the clinic’s unparalleled success, and Cynthia’s personal appeal as a beacon of hope and as a model of integrity, the Mae Tao Clinic is facing such chronic cuts in funding that its status is in severe jeopardy.

One major donor, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) has not approved its 2012 budget for the clinic. The NCA’s support will now go toward government-approved projects inside Burma operating under the current peace plan, said Cynthia.

As international donors move into Burma, more and more border-based NGOs and dissident groups are being left behind. The Mae Tao Clinic is no exception.

“Only 50 percent of our funding for 2012 is approved,” said Cynthia. “We will know again soon if that amount can be raised to 70 percent.”

Undoubtedly, many INGOs have been inspired to move operations to Rangoon as a result of the ceasefire agreements that have been signed between ethnic armed groups such as the KNU and the Burmese government.

However, many observers, including migrant workers, still have serious doubts over the durability of such peace agreements.

“People don’t realize that there is a vulnerable community of stateless people who have been living on the Thai-Burmese border for years who don’t have homes in either Burma or Thailand,” said Cynthia.

“Some vulnerable groups have no contact with their family in Burma,” she said. “The security, health and education of their children are essential. But unless the Burmese government handles this problem, community-based organizations need to be able to step in and assist.”

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The Irrawaddy – Police Begin Clean-up in Sittwe
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS| June 11, 2012

SITTWE, Arakan State—With fearful residents cowering indoors, security forces patrolling a tense town in western Myanmar [Burma] collected bodies Monday from the debris of homes burned down over the weekend in some of the country’s deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years.

The violence, which has left at least seven people dead and hundreds of homes torched since Friday, poses one the biggest tests yet for Myanmar’s new government as it struggles to reform the nation after generations of military rule. The handling of the unrest will draw close scrutiny from Western powers, which have praised President Thein Sein’s administration in recent months and rewarded it by easing years of harsh economic sanctions.

Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in the region late Sunday and pleaded for an end to the “endless anarchic vengeance,” warning that if the situation spun out of control, it could jeopardize the democratic reforms he has launched since taking office last year.

“We have not had any sleep for the last five days,” said Ma Ohn May, a 42-year old textile shop owner in Sittwe, adding that residents were holed up and bracing for further ethnic clashes.
Violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and members of a Muslim minority who call themselves Rohingyas erupted Friday in Rakhine state and spread Saturday to Sittwe. The area was mostly calm Monday.

The unrest — apparently trigged by the alleged rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl by three Muslims and the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims in retaliation — stems from long-standing tensions in the region.

The region’s Rohingya Muslims are seen by the government as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and are not officially recognized as one of the country’s national ethnic minorities. Although some are recent settlers, many have lived in Myanmar for centuries. The government position has rendered the Rohingyas effectively stateless, and rights groups say they have long suffered discrimination.

The Rohingyas’ plight gained international attention in 2010 when five boatloads of haggard migrants fleeing Myanmar were detained by Thai authorities and allegedly sent adrift at sea with little food and water. Hundreds were believed to have drowned.

There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya living in Myanmar’s mountainous Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh. Thousands attempt to flee every year to Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, trying to escape a life of abuse that rights groups say includes forced labor, violence against Rohingya women and restrictions on movement, marriage and reproduction that breed anger and resentment.

“It’s a tinderbox,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “These people very much feel like they’re trapped in a box, surrounded by enemies and there is an extremely high level of frustration.”

Although the basic problem is a local one, there is fear that the trouble could spread elsewhere because the split also runs along religious lines.

In Sittwe on Monday, shops, schools and banks were closed, including the city’s main market and some ethnic Rakhines wielding homemade swords could be seen guarding their homes or riding motorcycles. An Associated Press photographer in the town saw many homes burned or ransacked in the city’s Mi Zan district.

Police in Sittwe retrieved four bodies, including one found in a river that was believed to be that of an ethnic Rakhine woman. The other three bodies were wrapped in blankets, but it was not clear who they were.

Police evacuated two Muslim families from the same area for their security because their Muslim homes were located among houses of ethnic Rakhines, who are predominantly Buddhist.

Ma Ohn May, the shop owner in Sittwe, said she and her colleagues had heard rumors that Muslims were approaching the coastal market by boat to launch an attack. She said her Buddhist cousin, living in the Muslim-dominated town of Maungdaw, had taken refuge in the local police headquarters.

“Her house has been damaged and she is living in fear,” Ma Ohn May said, adding that food and water were in short supply.

Thein Sein’s state of emergency was his first since becoming president. The measure allows the military to take over administrative functions for Rakhine State, a coastal region that borders Bangladesh.

In a nine-minute speech televised nationally Sunday night, Thein Sein said that the violence was fanned by dissatisfaction harbored by different religious and ethnic groups, hatred and the desire for vengeance.

“If this endless anarchic vengeance and deadly acts continue, there is the danger of them spreading to other parts and being overwhelmed by subversive influences,” he said. “If that happens, it can severely affect peace and tranquility and our nascent democratic reforms and the development of the country.”

In contrast to the previous military regime, Thein Sein’s government has been relatively open in releasing timely information about the recent trouble. Under the former ruling junta, such incidents usually went unreported or were referred to only in brief, cryptic fashion.

Thein Sein was elected with the backing of the military, but discarded many of its repressive policies to seek accommodation with the pro-democracy movement of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The accounts in state media blamed Friday’s rioting in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships on 1,000 “terrorists,” but residents’ accounts made clear they were members of the local Muslim community.

The unrest seemed to be a reaction to the June 3 lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of 300 Buddhists. The lynch mob was apparently provoked by leaflets discussing the rape and murder last month of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslim men.

“I would like to call upon the people, political parties, religious leaders and the media to join hands with the government with a sense of duty, to help restore peace and stability and to prevent further escalation of violence,” Thein Sein said.

Army troops had been deployed Friday in Maungdaw and Buthidaung to help police keep order, and security officials were reported to have fired shots to quell the violence. Curfews were also imposed.

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The Irrawaddy – Gold Miners March on Naypyidaw
By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY| June 11, 2012

More than 1,000 gold miners from Mandalay Division began marching to Naypyidaw on Monday after their demands to keep working in the area were rejected.

The miners began by walking from 12 gold mine zones in the Moehti Moemi area to the center of Yamaethin Township which lies 40 miles (64 km) away. They will continue towards the capital on Tuesday.

A Moehti Moemi resident told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the miners left the area that morning.

“The gold miners planned to go with trucks but the number two gate did not allow them to cross, therefore, they had to walk,” she said. “But some people who had motorbikes have used them to travel.”
Moehti Moemi Monastery Abbot U Sandaw Batha and 10 other monks from the area are also accompanying the miners on the march.

Tens of thousands of gold miners began protesting in the first week of June after the Myanmar National Prosperity Public Company (MNPPC) told them to halt mining in the 6,000-acre Moehti Moemi area.

The company reached a verbal agreement with around a thousand small mining companies and individual miners in December 2011 which allowed them to excavate gold from the area for the length of its five-year government contract.

MNCCP is contracted to supply the Ministry of Mining with a certain amount of gold, while the smaller companies would receive half the ore that they excavated and contribute the rest.

But MNPPC has apparently since reneged on the deal and told miners to work for the company directly instead. All mining operations were halted on May 5 in an apparent effort to attract larger investments from international mining companies.

The gold miners postponed their protest at the weekend while an inspection to measure the feasibility of work recommencing was carried out by MNPPC. However, it now appears the company has decided against reopening the pits.

The marching miners, who arrive in Yamaethin on Monday evening, will stay at the Shwe Myay Tin Pagoda seven miles from town for the night before advancing the 48 miles (78 km) to Naypyidaw on Tuesday, according to worker activist Thaung Htike.

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Mizzima News – Thein Sein in TV address asks for calm
Monday, 11 June 2012 12:26 Mizzima News

Burmese President Thein Sein told the nation on Sunday if sectarian and racial violence spreads across the nation it could threaten the country’s democratic progress and called on all parties to help in restoring peace and the rule of law.

It declared a state of emergency, giving the government extra powers to act. Six areas have been placed under curfew since Friday night after many residential houses, and shops of local ethnic Rakhinese, especially those in Maungtaw, were set fire or destroyed, along with deaths and looting.

Since violence broke out between the largely Buddhist population and Muslims in Rakhine State last week, at least 17 people have died, scores of people were injured and hundreds of home have been burned by mobs.

In the violence, one Muslim mosque was destroyed.

The six areas under the curfew are Maungtaw, Buthidaung, Sittway, Thandwe, Kyaukphyu and Ramree.

A gathering of more than five people is banned, taking effect from 6 p.m. (local time) to 6 a.m.

Thein Sein asked the government, political parties, religious organizations, community-based organizations as well as the media to cooperate in establishing calm in western Rakhine State.

In his address to the nation in a live broadcast on state-run television, Thein Sein said the deaths and criminal acts would be dealt with by law. A curfew had already been established in the area.

He said the bloody incidents originated from racial tensions and revenge in the rape and murder of a girl last week. Authorities said the murder was believed to have been committed by Muslims.

Authorities said that since violence sparked on Friday about noon in Maungtaw, eight people were killed and 23 others injured with 508 residential houses, one guesthouse and 19 shops from at least eight villages burned or destroyed, according to latest official report.

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Mizzima News – Australia to provide $80 million for Burma schools
Monday, 11 June 2012 12:39 Mizzima News

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said his government will give textbooks to more than one million children in Burma, especially reaching out to impoverish areas, at the end of his recent visit to the country.

“Australia will also reach out to the most remote and underdeveloped regions of the country through Buddhist and community schools. In some of these schools less than half of teachers are properly trained,” Carr said, who ended his three-day tour on Friday.

He said that only half of Burmese children finished primary school, and many are so hungry and malnourished they find it hard to study.

Australia, one of Burma’s largest aid donors, will also provide teacher training and food, as well as provide water and and sanitation facilities at primary schools.

Students who stay in school for a year will receive take-home meals to encourage their families to keep them in school, he said.

The aid will be released over the next four years, and high-education scholarships would by increased from 20 next year to 50 by 2015, said the government.

Carr visited AusAID education projects in the Delta region south of Yangon which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

Education in Burma is at it’s lowest level in decades. “That means this generation of children in Myanmar may become the first in the country’s history with a lower level of education than their parents. Australia is determined to try and prevent this from happening,” he said.

Carr said the program supports the basic rights of the poorest children in the country, “The right to education, the right to learn in a safe environment, and the right to clean water and sanitation.”

Australia has contributed to international efforts which have since 2007 provided Burma with over 1.9 million mosquito nets, treated 127,000 tuberculosis patients and provided more than 51 million condoms and 10 million needles to reduce the rate of HIV infection, said the government.

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Mizzima News – Singapore firm wins exploration rights
Monday, 11 June 2012 14:04 Mizzima News

An exploration contract on Block EP-5 in the Inpin Tegyigon area of Burma has been signed by the government and a Singapore’s Istech Energy EP-5 Pte Ltd.  A Burmese privately owned firm, Smart Technical Services Ltd, will also share in the deal.

Under the production sharing contract, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise said it is the sixth contract of its kind reached after the government invited international tenders for exploration on 18 inland blocks nearly a year ago.

The contract covers EP-2 Block exploration in Aunglan region and the PSCG Block in Taungdwingyi.

Burma has 49 inland blocks and 26 offshore blocks in Mon, Taninthayi and Rakhine regions or states.

Foreign companies involved in Burmese exploration or production include firms from Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar has abundant natural gas resources especially in the offshore areas. Currently, it has three main large offshore oil and gas fields and 19 onshore fields. It has proven recoverable reserve of 18. 012 trillion cubic feet (TCF) out of 89.722 TCF’s estimated reserve of offshore and onshore gas, the government said.

The country is also estimated to have 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserve, official statistics indicate.

Myanmar’s natural gas export earned US$ 2.947 billion in the first 11 months of the fiscal year 2011-12, up about 424.77 million dollars from $2.522 billion in fiscal year 2010-11, according to ministry statistics.

Statistics show foreign investment in Burma’s oil and gas sector had reached $13.815 billion in 104 projects as of the end of November 2011, accounting for 34.18 per cent and standing the second in the country’s foreign investment sectors after electrical power.

Burma has only one oil company, Myanmar Petroleum Resources Limited, which is owned by Michael Moe Myint. The Htoo Company owned by businessmen Tay Za and Nay Aung, who is the son of former Industry No. 1 Minister Aung Thaung, are shareholders in foreign oil and gas companies, according to sources close to the Ministry of Energy.

Currently, Burma’s inland blocks are producing more than 9,300 crude oil barrels a day and more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, according to government figures. The Yadana and Yetagun offshore natural gas blocks are producing more than 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

According statements by the Ministry of Energy, there are a total of 0.46 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the inland area in Burma and 17 trillion cubic feet in offshore blocks.

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Hackers target DVB website
By DVB
Published: 11 June 2012

On Saturday at 21.15 PM (CET) a denial of service attack was launched against DVB’s English and Burmese websites.

Approximately 500 users attacked both sites in an effort to overwhelm the server.

The hacker group Blink claimed responsibility for the attack on their webpage and invited other hackers to join the cyber assault. The group posted step-by-step instructions guiding potential hackers on how to participate.

A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disable a website by overwhelming the site with information requests so that it cannot respond to regular traffic.

On Blink’s website they’ve posted a rolling message reading: “in order to cleanse our religious land, sometimes we have to bloody our hands”.

The message refers to the ongoing sectarian violence in Arakan state and can be translated as a threat aimed at the area’s Muslim minority.

However, DVB’s director Aye Chan Naing said although it was made to look like an attack from people who were disappointed with DVB’s reporting [on the riots in Arakan state], findings showed that it was obviously planned and carried out systemically by a certain group.

About 75 of the hackers’ IP addresses came from both Russia and Singapore.

The attacks in Russia were launched from several universities in Moscow, St Petersburg and Kaluga.

All the Russian universities involved in the attack have Burmese citizens enrolled who study computer science and nuclear technology.

Similar attacks targeted Burmese-exile media groups in 2008 and 2010 on the anniversary of the September 2007 uprising.

-Correction: Previously, DVB reported that 75 percent of the hackers’ IP addresses came from both Russia and Singapore. This information was wrong and has been corrected

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Editor - The Myanmar Gazette || First Amendment – Religion and Expression - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.