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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Niel Hubys -A sustainable method of recovery for displaced Kachin people

An organic farming project in Kachin State is helping people displaced by war to get back on their feet.

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Burma Army Patrols Unsettle, Resettled Displaced Karen

Despite being resettled, displaced Karen villagers in Thar Mae Plaw, in southern Burma, are still living in fear after the Burma Army repeatedly entered their newly resettled site.

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Karen boxers represent Burma at SEA Games

Nan Chaung Paw- Six Karen ethnic boxers have been selected to represent Burma at the coming 27th Southeast Asian Games that will be hosted in Burma from December 11th 2013.

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Flawed National Registration Process – Migrant Workers Open to Exploitation

The Migrant Worker Right Network (MWRN), has criticized the Burma and Thailand’s National Verification process for leaving migrant workers open to exploitation at the hands of corrupt brokers.

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Dawei farmers take to the streets to demand their land back

S'Phan Shaung-For the first time in decades, farmers in Dawei Township held a demonstration in Dawei City in an attempt get back farmlands returned to them that were confiscated by the former military regime.

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Burma President Warns – “No Secession And No Harm To Sovereignty”

Saw Khar Hsu Nyar- Karen News is led to understand that President U Thein Sein has given directives to his office’s minister not to discuss issues about ethnic states secession and issues that can harm the sovereignty of the country during political dialogue with ethnic groups.

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To Hopeland and Back (Part V)

Day Two, 28 October 2013: The perfect host
Just before we left for Myitkyina, the Kachin State capital, we met two people:

U Hla Maung Shwe, of Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) who explained to us that the plan agreed with the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence  Army (KIO/KIA) during the 8-10 October talks was for the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) to meet with representatives of all the ethnic armed organizations (EAO) in Myitkyina. That was helpful, because earlier we were under the impression that the KIO/KIA, armed with the resolutions from the EAO Conference in Laiza, would be meeting the UPWC alone, with observers from other groups as it had done earlier. Which implied that the Laiza conference, apart from adopting a common stand, must choose a joint negotiating team.

He also informed us that President Thein Sein had assigned himself 3 missions for the rest of his tenure: Peace, Youth and Economy. Accordingly, he would be doing something that has never been done in Burma’s history: sending a message to the conference.

Hkun Htun Oo, the leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), who has accepted the President’s request to help foster harmony among different groups and communities in Shan State earlier this year. His efforts resulted in the founding of the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) on 17 October. He told us that the peace process should not necessarily end in 2015 with the possible retirement of President Thein Sein. It must continue after 2015 whoever the next President is. “I also hope that this is not going to be a repetition of the Sri Lankan peace process (which ended with a return to war and subsequent Tamil Tigers’ defeat),” he said.

At 14:15, we were off to Myitkyina on Air KBZ, owned by “Sra Kyawng” U Aung Ko Win whose daughter Nang Leng Kham is the company’s chair. The inflight magazine is obviously named “Mai Hsoong,” the Shan equivalent of “Hello”.

A rousing reception had been prepared by the Peacetalks Creation Group (PCG) formed by Yup Zau Hkawng, a grizzled Kachin businessman, when we arrived in Myitkyina at 16:30, from the airport all the way to the Nanthida Riverside Hotel on the western bank of the Irrawaddy.

Nanthida River-side Hotel (Photo: Nyiwin)

From that date to until we flew back on 5 November, I found nothing to find fault with the Kachins’ famous hospitality:

  • One or two automobiles were assigned to each EAO delegation, with the group’s banner in front
  • Each delegate was given a separate room in Laiza and accorded a free laundry
  • Three main meals per day plus two coffee/tea breaks
  • Medics were assigned at each hotel to look after the delegates with health complaints
  • A trip to Myitsone, where the Chinese-led hydropower dam project was put to a halt by the President in 2011

As I had informed them just before our departure, it was a perfect demonstration of the Shans’ famous saying on the Kachins:

“The Chinese are nice (to you) on the road
The Kachins are nice (to you) at home”

“Our worry is that we won’t be able to reciprocate your hospitality to our satisfaction,” KNU leader Gen Mutu Sayphoe told his KIO counterpart Zawng Hra who came to say goodbye on 3 November. “We may have to ask you to bring your own hammocks, blankets and mosquito nets.”

Zawng Hra (center), chairman of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) (Photo: kachinnet)

Well, I’m sure you can make up for all the short comings with ample supply of the famous Karen brew to match the Kachins’ Sabbyi, Mr Chairman. We can all go to Pa-an happy afterward.

To Hopeland and Back (Part V)

I have a confession to make. I have bad habits. More than I care to admit.

One of them is reading the last page of a whodunnit first before turning on the story’s first page.

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To Hopeland and Back (Part V): When “We will meet again” means “No”

The first and perhaps the only lesson I received after I was appointed as the foreign relations officer for the Shan United Revolutionary Army in 1980 came from a Thai visitor to the SURA headquarters. It was a succinct one which I remember up to this day:

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Kachin Conflict: Burma Army Accused Of Raping Villagers

Saw Blacktown-In recent months and as peace negotiations with the government continue, human rights abuses including rape and arbitrary killings at the hands of the Burma Army continue against Kachin people, according to community-based organisations and frontline backpack medics.

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