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Dec 31, 2012

Jailing dissidents is not only a Burmese tradition

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.”

Oct 5, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi is in the House

 The worst-kept secret in Naypyitaw, the eerily under-populated capital of Myanmar, is who lives in a new bungalow in its dusty northern suburbs.

The house looks unwelcoming, and perhaps it’s meant to. It is painted a penitential shade of beige and ringed by a high fence topped with razor wire. “To protect against enemies,” said a guard through a mouthful of betel juice, before shutting the heavy wooden gate that separates Naypyitaw’s famous new resident, Aung San Suu Kyi, from a curious world.

Mar 12, 2012

ANALYSIS: Big win for Suu Kyi’s party in Myanmar election? Maybe not

By Andrew R.C. Marshall

MAWLAMYAING, Myanmar (Reuters) – Cho Cho May knows who she will vote for in next month’s Myanmar by-elections: the candidate for the party created by the former military junta. “No need to ask me that question,” she says. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidate is her boss.

Finding another USDP supporter elsewhere in this normally sleepy river town is harder. When Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the rival National League for Democracy (NLD), is on a two-day campaign tour of the region, Mawlamyaing’s streets throng with people waving NLD flags and shouting “Long live Mother Suu!” Watch Suu Kyi’s huge convoy go past — it includes a truck just to carry the flowers that people give her — and you wonder how anyone could beat her party at the polls.

Feb 21, 2012

SPECIAL REPORT: MYANMAR DECLARES WAR ON OPIUM

By Andrew R.C. Marshall

TAR PU VILLAGE, Shan State, Myanmar (Reuters) – In Myanmar’s new war on drugs, meet the weapon of mass destruction: the weed-whacker.

Its two-stroke engine spins a metal blade, which is more commonly deployed to tame the suburban gardens of wealthy Westerners. But today, in a remote valley in impoverished Shan State, Myanmar police armed with weed-whackers are advancing through fields of thigh-high poppies, leaving a carpet of stems in their wake.

Feb 20, 2012

NO FLIES ON US

By Andrew R.C. Marshall

“When you open the windows for fresh air, flies sometimes get in.” So declared one of Myanmar’s ruling generals after his long-isolated country started welcoming foreign tourists in the late 1990s. The “flies” were undesirables like us, the journalists, who exploited this new openness to enter Myanmar as tourists and buzz around the place.

I recalled the general’s words (which he stole from Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping) while researching a Special Report on Myanmar’s new opium war with photographer Damir Sagolj. We were invited by the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), Myanmar’s main anti-narcotics taskforce, to witness its opium-eradication efforts and hear an appeal for half a billion dollars to help wean impoverished farmers off poppy-growing.

    • About Andrew

      "I joined Reuters in January 2012 and am Special Correspondent, Southeast Asia. I have lived in and reported from Asia for 20 years. I am the author of The Trouser People, a political travelogue about Myanmar and football, and co-author of The Cult at the End of the World, about Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth Cult and high-tech terrorism."
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