NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – With an historic general election just seven months away, Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is locked in a high-stakes showdown with a military-backed government she says isn’t interested in reform.
Some of her supporters within Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement have begun to question whether the country’s most popular politician has the political ability to prevail.
NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said boycotting an upcoming historic election was an “option” if a military-drafted constitution that bars her from becoming president remains unchanged.
In an interview on Friday, the Nobel laureate told Reuters that her opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party was “ready to govern” but that President Thein Sein was insincere about reform and might try to postpone the election.
THAE CHAUNG, Myanmar (Reuters) – In this teeming camp for displaced Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar, it’s easy to overlook the internet huts. The raw emotion they generate is much harder to ignore.
The huts have bamboo walls, thatched roofs and – most importantly – dusty laptop computers that allow Rohingya to reestablish contact with relatives who have left on boats for Thailand and Malaysia. The internet connection comes via cellphones jammed into the cobweb-strewn rafters.
THAE CHAUNG, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s decision to revoke temporary identification cards for minorities is raising tensions among its 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who have effectively been disenfranchised just days after parliament approved a law affirming their right to vote in a referendum.
Last week, the government of the Buddhist-majority nation announced that the temporary identification, known as white cards, would be revoked on May 31.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Myanmar Buddhist monk who called a U.N. human rights envoy a “whore” has violated his monastic code and could damage his religion, another prominent monk said on Tuesday, but he is unlikely to face censure.
Wirathu denounced Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, in a speech in Yangon on Friday, after she questioned draft laws that critics say discriminate against women and non-Buddhists.
MAUNGDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – The fence stretches as far as the eye can see, its concrete pillars carrying coils of barbed wire across the mountains and marshes of western Myanmar.
Beyond the fence, on the far bank of the Naf River, is a ragged horizon of mangroves: Bangladesh. There, say Myanmar officials, lurks the armed militant group the fence was partly designed to keep out.
MAUNGDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – For years, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim boat people have fled this remote corner of western Myanmar for nearby countries. But another huge exodus has grabbed far fewer headlines.
Ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, bitter rivals of the Rohingya, are also leaving Rakhine State to seek jobs in Malaysia and Thailand. Small numbers of Rakhine are even following the same smuggling routes plied by the Rohingya and, like them, falling victim to human traffickers.
PHANG NGA Thailand (Reuters) – When Afsar Miae left his home near Teknaf in southern Bangladesh to look for work last month, he told his mother, “I’ll see you soon.” He said he expected to return that evening.
He never did.
When he reported for work at a house on the outskirts of Teknaf, a man there gave him a drink of water. Soon, his eyelids sagged and his head started spinning.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai police found scores of sick and exhausted boat people hiding on a remote island on Monday, and all but one of the 79 suspected human-trafficking victims were from Bangladesh, according to local officials.
The discovery brings to more than 130 the number of people found since Saturday in the province of Phang Nga to the north of the famous resort island of Phuket, officials said.
BATTAMBANG Cambodia (Reuters) – Brigadier General Sar Theth is the police chief of Battambang, a languid riverside town in western Cambodia. You could also call him the seven million dollar man.
On Sept. 19, Sar Theth’s officers tracked three Thai men in a pick-up truck as it passed through a remote border checkpoint from Thailand. When the truck stopped in the Cambodian district of Phnom Proek, the police pounced.