DUKU, Thailand (Reuters) – Rusnee Maeloh slept through the 30-minute gunfight that killed her husband, but her neighbors in the notoriously violent Bacho district of southern Thailand heard distant explosions and feared the worst.
Mahrosu Jantarawadee, 31, was Rusnee’s childhood sweetheart, the father of their two children, and part of a secretive Islamic insurgency fighting a brutal nine-year war with the Thai government that has killed more than 5,300 people.
ROVIENG, Cambodia (Reuters) – The remote district of Rovieng was once a battleground between Cambodian government troops and Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge. Unexploded bombs still lurk in its fields and forests.
So does something more desirable – iron ore – and supposedly in such huge quantities two Chinese companies have an $11-billion plan to extract it.
Ever heard of Tun Aung? I hadn’t until researching my recent Reuters special report on Myanmar’s year of reforms. Human rights activists claim his plight is proof that the country’s reformist government, like the military junta it replaced, is relying on repressive laws and secretive trials to silence perceived enemies.
Tun Aung, a practicing medical doctor and Islamic leader, was arrested in June 2012 after clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine State killed at least 80 people. He was accused of inciting unrest in the town of Maungdaw, although Amnesty International said credible eyewitness reports suggested that Tun Aung “actively tried to defuse the violence.”
MONYWA, Myanmar (Reuters) – Pyinyananda was chanting with dozens of fellow Buddhist monks when an object landed in the folds of his orange robes and blew up.
The canister contained tear gas, the police later said, but the explosion flayed so much skin from his arms and legs that he remains in hospital weeks later.
NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Aung Thaw was a teenager when he joined Myanmar’s armed forces, which seized power in 1962 and led a promising Asian nation into half a century of poverty, isolation and fear.
Now 59, he has a new mission as deputy minister of defense: explaining why the military intends to retain a dominant role in a fragile new era of democratic reform.
BANGKOK, Nov 16 (Reuters) – There is a Jekyll-and-Hyde
quality to President Thein Sein, the bookish-looking former
general Barack Obama will meet on Monday during the first visit
by a U.S. president to Myanmar.
Thein Sein has been both a dictator’s henchman and a man
widely seen as a Nobel Peace Prize contender. He rose to power
in a rabidly anti-American military junta, yet spearheaded its
efforts to build better relations with the United States.
PAIK THAY, Myanmar (Reuters) – On a hot Sunday night in a remote Myanmar village, Tun Naing punched his wife and unleashed hell.
She wanted rice for their three children. He said they couldn’t afford it. Apartheid-like restrictions had prevented Muslims like Tun Naing from working for Buddhists here in Rakhine State along Myanmar’s western border, costing the 38-year-old metalworker his job.
YANGON (Reuters) – In the 1970s, Oo Hla Saw organized street protests against Myanmar strongman General Ne Win. Today, he faces a very different fight as defender of a political party that is dominated by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and linked to bloody assaults on Muslims.
The secretary-general of the Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP) denies his party led or organized attacks against Rohingya Muslims in a wave of sectarian violence in late October that killed at least 89 people. But grass-roots members may be involved, he conceded in an interview with Reuters. A military intelligence officer told Reuters RNDP members were among the instigators.
SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) – Muslim survivors of six days of sectarian violence in western Myanmar spoke on Sunday of fleeing bullets and burning homes to escape on fishing boats after an attack by once-peaceable Rakhine neighbors.
The United Nations said 22,587 people had now been displaced after unrest between Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines claimed at least 67 lives in Rakhine State and tested the reformist mettle of the quasi-civilian government that replaced Myanmar’s oppressive ruling junta last year.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – The United States will invite Myanmar to the world’s largest multinational military field exercise, a powerful symbolic gesture toward a military with a grim human rights record and a milestone in its rapprochement with the West.
Myanmar has been invited to observe Cobra Gold, which brings together more than 10,000 American and Thai military personnel and participants from other Asian countries for joint annual maneuvers, officials from countries participating in the exercises told Reuters.