Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Irrawaddy Magazine

The Irrawaddy Magazine

Religion Minister Raises Concerns Over Pagoda-Crazed Monk

Posted: 04 May 2016 06:49 AM PDT

 Supporters of the monk U Thuzana pay respects at a pagoda he ordered constructed near a church in Karen State. (Photo: Saw William Kyaw / Facebook)

Supporters of the monk U Thuzana pay respects at a pagoda he ordered constructed near a church in Karen State. (Photo: Saw William Kyaw / Facebook)

MANDALAY — Unresolved religious tensions in Karen State could affect national peace, stability and reconciliation, according to Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Aung Ko, who was referring to one monk's recent spree of pagoda-building on other faiths' lands.

U Thuzana, a Buddhist monk and spiritual leader to an ethnic Karen armed group, and his followers recently built pagodas in Christian compounds and near a mosque in Karen State, prompting the minister's comments at an event on Wednesday in Mandalay, where he met with members of an interfaith group based in the city.

"Since there are armed groups involved, solving these urgent problems could affect the peace and stability of the region, as well as the ongoing national reconciliation and peace process," he said, referring to members of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), some of whom helped build the pagodas.

He added that the matter is currently being handled by the regional Mahana, an association of appointed Karen State Buddhist monks that oversees and regulates local Buddhist clergy; however, resolution in at least one case may not come quickly due to a dispute over which of the groups, Christians or Buddhists, are the rightful claimants to the land.

"We need to be patient, wait for an appropriate time, and work step by step starting from within," Aung Ko said. "After the Mahana makes their decision, the state government will step in."

Despite protests from the Christian community, the monk continued his mission last month, believing that rebuilding on the sites of demolished pagodas would bring good Karma.

Since he imposed on church compounds in Hlaingbwe and Hpa-an townships, and near a mosque in Mya Pyi village, hundreds of people have taken to social media to criticize and condemned the monk's actions.

Meanwhile, U Thuzana has plans to build additional structures in a church compound in Kondawgyi village, where monks chanted on Tuesday to bless the area marked for construction.

The monk first built on the church property last month, despite objections from religious authorities. Tensions increased again when he recently began laying the foundation for Buddhist ordination and assembly halls nearby.

Karen State Religious Affairs Minister Min Tin Win told The Irrawaddy that officials from his ministry and religious groups would visit Kondawgyi village on Wednesday night to see where U Thuzana intends to build on the Christian property and decide what to do afterwards.

"A Buddhist ordination hall should be built on Buddhist land," he said. "But, this land belongs to Christians."

Lawi Weng reported from Rangoon.

The post Religion Minister Raises Concerns Over Pagoda-Crazed Monk appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Villagers Pinned Down by Landslides, Floods in Northern Kachin State

Posted: 04 May 2016 06:41 AM PDT

An aerial view of homes affected by flooding in Kachin State. (Photo: Burma Army Commander-in-Chief's Office)

An aerial view of homes affected by flooding in Kachin State. (Photo: Burma Army Commander-in-Chief's Office)

RANGOON — Landslides and flooding caused by heavy rains have destroyed hundreds of houses in northern Kachin State's Chipwi Township, according to sources in the region, with rescue personnel struggling to reach the affected population.

Five villages were hit by the severe weather in Chipwi, not far from the Chinese border.

The area is isolated and remote. A landslide blocked the only major road in or out, obstructing attempts by authorities and local aid groups to reach the survivors, who have been trapped in the area for almost two weeks.

It is still unclear how many people live in the affected area, which is home predominately to the Lisu ethnic minority.

"One-hundred-thirty-five houses in five villages were destroyed on April 24," said Zar-Ki a Lisu former state lawmaker from Chipwi Township. "Even a motorbike cannot travel on the road right now, but the Burma Army used two helicopters to transport the injured and bring aid to survivors on April 30."

Some members of the Kachin State government are waiting to enter the disaster area, according to Zar-Ki, but they have to wait for the road to be cleared to gain access to the valley.

No one was killed in the natural disaster, he said.

Heavy rainstorms and wind felled a group of trees that then clogged a nearby river, acting like a natural dam. When the flow of the river burst through the tangle of fallen trunks, it created a flash flood that inundated the villages, Zar-Ki said.

The area has experienced intensive logging by a Kachin militia, the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), according to Zau Lai, a former Lower House parliamentarian from the National League for Democracy (NLD).

"The deforestation in the area has created ripe conditions for landslides," said Zau Lai. "I warned the people many times about the natural disasters that can occur due due to logging, but they did not believe me."

The area has been at peace since 1990, when the militia signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government. Since then, the NDA-K has generated most of its income from logging.

The post Villagers Pinned Down by Landslides, Floods in Northern Kachin State appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Lashio Residents Hope Slashings Will Stop After Drug Bust

Posted: 04 May 2016 04:30 AM PDT

Alleged drug traffickers are seated in front of seized contraband in Lashio, Shan State. (Photo: Lashio News Diary / Facebook)

Alleged drug traffickers are seated in front of seized contraband in Lashio, Shan State. (Photo: Lashio News Diary / Facebook)

RANGOON — Counter-narcotics police in Lashio, Shan State, raided a drug trafficking camp early Wednesday morning, arresting 46 alleged drug traffickers and seizing methamphetamine pills, hypodermic needles, machetes and swords, according to Aung Myat Moe, a deputy colonel of the Shan State Police.

The camp was located near Ma Nar village, eight miles outside of Lashio town. The state police officer said authorities were still cataloguing the confiscations and that an investigation had been launched. He declined to provide additional details about the arrests.

Police forces burned down the camp's 11 tents after arresting the people who had been allegedly using it as a base to trade drugs. They also seized more than 30 soap containers of opium, 80 bottles of cocaine and nearly 3,000 methamphetamine pills. The police have not yet calculated the total value of the seizure.

"We believe that some of the culprits also committed machete attacks," the state police colonel said.

Ko Thet, a Lashio resident, said he assumed those apprehended had been responsible for several savage attacks recently, in which roadside assailants slashed bags from the backs of motorcyclists before disappearing into the jungle.

"Residents are very happy," Ko Thet said. "Recently people have been frightened to walk alone at night."

In April, at least 20 locals were wounded in machete and sword attacks in Lashio Township, said Sai Myint Maung, a National League for Democracy (NLD) member who unsuccessfully contested a regional legislature seat in the township in last November's election.

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No Quick Return for Border Refugees Despite High Hopes for NLD Era

Posted: 04 May 2016 04:23 AM PDT

 Refugees who fled Burma walk at the Mae La refugee camp, near the Burma border in Thailand's Mae Sot district, Tak province, on July 21, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Refugees who fled Burma walk at the Mae La refugee camp, near the Burma border in Thailand's Mae Sot district, Tak province, on July 21, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — The repatriation of some 120,000 refugees along the Thai-Burma border was discussed during a meeting of stakeholders last week, but an official from the United Nations' refugee agency insists there remains no firm timetable on a large-scale return of the displaced despite talks on the matter between Burma's new government and its Thai counterpart.

"The main focus of the meeting was on refugee registration and resettlement [to third-party countries], which is winding down after 11 years. The subject of voluntary return was not on the agenda but was prompted by a question," said Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok.

Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) spokesperson Naw Blooming Night Zar confirmed that the April 27 meeting, which included officials from both governments, NGOs and representatives of the UNHCR and from refugee camps, did not focus on repatriation of those living in nine camps on the border.

"We concentrated on how to handle those who are not yet registered with the United Nations and the Thai government," she told The Irrawaddy. "We want to ensure that the Thai policy on refugee repatriation has not changed. There is no pressure on the refugees to return home. They will be required to return home only when there is genuine peace."

She added that the Thai government acknowledged that it was not the right time for them to return to Burma, despite an abatement of conflict in eastern Burma.

"Even internally displaced people [IDPs] in Karen State can't go home, so it will be difficult for those living in Thailand to return," she said.

At the meeting, Thai official and Tak province Deputy Governor Suttha Saivanid said the Thai government had been in contact with Burma's newly elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government to arrange for repatriation, according to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).

DVB reported that Suttha said Thai officials expected repatriation of the refugees would take place "within two to three years' time."

While the new NLD government has emphasized Burma's peace process and national reconciliation as core priorities, prospects for a lasting peace will to a large degree be determined by the Burma Army, which remains outside of civilian control.

Karen State, where most of the border refugees fled from, has seen relatively little conflict in recent years, but elsewhere in Burma renewed fighting has cast doubt on the military's stated commitment to peace.

Tan said the UNHCR continues to talk with the governments of Thailand and Burma about options for the eventual, voluntary return of refugees.

"Our position remains unchanged: Any refugee return must be voluntary. It must be based on an individual, informed decision, and must take place in safety and dignity," said Tan.

She said the UNHCR would only facilitate the voluntary return of refugees who approach the agency for support.

"We are not proactively promoting or encouraging returns, but will try our best to support those who have decided that they wish to return shortly. We are exploring how best to facilitate their return," said Tan.

Details of that support are still being discussed on both sides of the border between governments, the United Nations, NGOs, ethnic groups and community-based organizations, she added.

The KRC spokeswoman said NGOs had already begun preparing for repatriation back in 2012.

"The return won't happen overnight," said Naw Blooming Night Zar. "We provided vocational training and skills for them to apply when they return home, spent three years preparing them in order to smooth the process and trained them to stand on their own feet," she added.

She emphasized that before repatriation occurs, there should a stable nationwide ceasefire agreement, a guarantee for safety, household support and proper housing.

She added that success would also depend on contributions from the West, but that a sluggish global economy and the varying interests of foreign donors had contributed to a decline of humanitarian support for the refugees.

"It depends on the interests of the donors. Some believe that Burma is peaceful, so they have [moved their focus] inside the country. But there are others who will continue supporting the refugees until they can return home," she said.

The post No Quick Return for Border Refugees Despite High Hopes for NLD Era appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Parliament OKs Review of Private Hospital Project in Rangoon

Posted: 04 May 2016 03:46 AM PDT

 The 4.3-acre site of a new US$70 million, 250-bed private hospital development near Rangoon General Hospital. (Photo: Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy)

The 4.3-acre site of a new US$70 million, 250-bed private hospital development near Rangoon General Hospital. (Photo: Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Parliament has given the green-light to discuss the future of a plot of ministry-owned land in Rangoon after a lawmaker objected to its use by the private sector.

San Shwe Win, a National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker in the Lower House, submitted a proposal on Wednesday urging the national government to halt a US$70 million international hospital project being built on land owned by the Ministry of Health near Rangoon General Hospital.

Situated on a 4.3-acre plot of land at the corner of Pyay and Bogyoke Aung San roads, IHH Healthcare Berhad, through its subsidiary Parkway Healthcare Indo-China Pte. Ltd., broke ground for the 250-bed hospital in Rangoon in January. However, the project was quickly panned by critics who said it would only siphon off government land for private use.

"The plot of land has been earmarked for the expansion of RGH [Rangoon General Hospital] since 2013," San Shwe Win said when he submitted his proposal to the Lower House.

The lawmaker said the land should be used for the public since Rangoon residents overwhelmingly rely on public hospitals for medical care.

"The reality is that most people can't afford private hospitals. There was no transparency or consideration for the public interest when the [previous] government and the Myanmar Investment Commission made the deal. That's why I urge the Union government to halt this project," San Shwe Win said.

According to an IHH Healthcare statement from February, the site of the new hospital, Parkway Yangon, is on land leased for 50 years, with the option of two 10-year extensions. The project was said to be slated for completion by 2020.

San Shwe Win's proposal, which was seconded by a fellow NLD lawmaker, did not face any opposition from Parliament and is scheduled for further discussion next week.

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Burma’s Media Landscape Through the Years

Posted: 04 May 2016 03:39 AM PDT

A man arranges newspapers at a wholesale market in Rangoon on Nov. 15, 2014. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters)

A man arranges newspapers at a wholesale market in Rangoon on Nov. 15, 2014. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters)

Recent years have seen dramatic changes to Burma's media landscape, with the previous quasi-civilian government taking steps to unshackle a press corps long muzzled by successive military regimes dating back to 1962.

In the wake of World Press Freedom Day, which was celebrated on Tuesday, The Irrawaddy revisits a media history stretching back to the 1800s.

2011 – 2015

2015 — Much of the year's news coverage is devoted to the Nov. 8 general election, Burma's first poll in more than half a century to take place in a relatively free media environment. The Myanmar Times, for 15 years a weekly, goes daily in March, taking up the mantle of Burma's only English-language daily newspaper, a title previously held by the now defunct Myanma Freedom Daily.

2014 — The year begins inauspiciously for Burma's media with the detention of four journalists and the CEO if the Unity journal in connection with a January report alleging the existence of a government chemical weapons factory. Charged and convicted under the State Secrets Act, the men were sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was later reduced to seven. The men were released as part of a broader amnesty by the new government last month.

March sees passage of two new media laws that are received with mixed reactions, while the press corps is rocked to its core in October by news that the freelance journalist Par Gyi was killed while in military custody. No one was ever convicted of a crime in the case.

2013 — On April 1, four Burmese-language private dailies begin publishing after the government granted licenses to 16 private dailies. In August, Myanma Freedom Daily emerges as the first English-language daily in almost five decades. The paper folds less than a year later.

According to government figures, the Information Ministry has so far issued 35 licenses for private and state-run dailies, and 22 are in publication. It has granted licenses for 32 news agencies, of which 23 are in operation. And 260 out of 437 licensed journals are being published.

Obama Meets DASSK2012 — President Thein Sein's government allows international news agencies, which were technically banned under the military regime, to conduct reporting in Burma. Exile media like The Irrawaddy are also allowed to return. Founded by Aung Zaw in 1993, The Irrawaddy distributed its magazine for the first time in Burma in December 2012, and also shifted its online operations to Rangoon while maintaining a small office in Thailand's Chiang Mai. The Irrawaddy published its first Burmese-language weekly in January 2014, and switched to an all-digital format early in 2016.

The Burma Press Council (Interim) is formed with 29 members on Oct. 17.

As part of its media reforms, the government announces in December 2012 that it will allow the uncensored publication of private daily newspapers, dissolving its notorious Press Scrutiny and Registration Division under the Information Ministry in a follow-up move after it did away with decades-long draconian pre-publication censorship in August 2012.

2011 — With the Thein Sein government coming to power, local publications in Burma are allowed to feature articles written by—and interviews with—pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time.

1988 – 2010 

* In 1988 Burma enjoyed press freedom for the short time of one month due to pro-democracy uprisings. In 1997 Burma was labeled as the regions number one adversary of the press. Today, it has about 100 publications, all censored by Press Scrutiny Boards.

2007 — Kenji Nagai, a Japanese photojournalist seasoned in conflict reporting, is shot dead by a Burma Army soldier during the 2007 anti-government protests in Rangoon. The 50-year-old was the only foreign national killed in the protests. The military regime of the time, which ruled as the State Peace and Development Council, ultimately quashed the demonstrations and continued to hold a tight grip on the media until Thein Sein's government came to power in 2011.

April 28, 2004—An international pro-democracy group, Freedom House, ranks Burma as one of the top five "Worst of the Worst" countries for press freedom in the world.

2004February 2000—The English-weekly Myanmar Times & Business Review is launched by an Australian businessman and military officials. Sonny Swe, the son of Brig-Gen Thein Swe who is a high ranking Military Intelligence officer, is the deputy CEO of the journal. Later, it starts to publish a Burmese-language version.

1997—US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, describes Burma and Indonesia as the region's two foremost enemies of the press. Yet, since the fall of Suharto in the same year, Indonesia's mass media blossoms, leaving Burma as the region's number one adversary of the press.

88Mid-1990s—The junta launches the Kyemon that was also nationalized in 1964.

April 1993—The regime changes the name of the Loktha Pyithu Nezin (the Working People's Daily) to Myanma Alin (the New Light of Myanmar) that was banned in 1969.

1989—After taking power again, the military amends the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act to heavily increase the fine payable by offenders.

September 1988—Immediately after the military ceases power on September 18, all newspapers are banned except for the Loktha Pyithu Nezin and its English version, the Working Peopl's Daily. Strict censorship is imposed and many journalists are arrested.

At first, foreign journalists are allowed into the country but later they are banned and only a few selected foreign journalists are given press visas.

August – September 1988—After 26 years of silence, about 40 independent newspapers and journals, including the Light of Dawn, the Liberation Daily, Scoop, the New Victory and Newsletter, appear in Rangoon for about a month during the period of nationwide pro-democracy uprisings. The publications run political commentaries, biting satires and humorous cartoons of the rulers.

Even the state-run newspapers like the Guardian and the Working People’s Daily publish outspoken political articles.

1958 – 1970s

* About 30 newspapers emerge. The year 1964 is said to be Burma's last year of press freedom. At this time, dictator Ne Win’s Revolutionary Council shuts down some newspapers and nationalizes most newspapers.

1974—The Socialist party's new constitution grants freedom of expression. However, all forms of public expression are subject to Press Scrutiny Boards to ensure that these "freedoms" are only expressed within the accepted limits of the 'Burmese Way to Socialism.'

1969—The right-wing Hanthawaddy and the Myanma Alin (the New Light of Burma) are nationalized. Eventually, only six newspapers are left: the Loktha Pyithu Nezin, the Botataung, the Kyemon and the Hanthawaddy, the Guardian and the Working People's Daily.

The News Agency Burma controls the flow of news in and out of the country. All foreign correspondents, except those working for the Soviet Tass and China's Xinhua, are expelled. Visits by foreign journalists are officially banned. Locally based foreign news agencies are forced to appoint Burmese citizens as correspondents that must be approved by the authorities. In the late 1990s, the British Broadcasting Company and the Voice of America pull out after being unable to appoint their own correspondents.

1966—The government announces that private newspapers are to be banned altogether.All Chinese and Indian language newspapers are stopped as printing is required to be done in Burmese or English language only.

1964—Said to be the last year Burma enjoyed a free press, the government nationalizes all private newspapers, the liberal Kyemon (theMirror), Botataung (A Thousand Officers) and the Guardian. The left-wing Vanguard offers itself for nationalization. Smaller newspapers are shut down and several editors and journalists are arrested.

October 1963—The government launches the Loktha Pyithu Nezin (the Working People’s Daily) to compete with exiting private newspapers. In January 1964, the English version of the Working People's Daily appears.

July 1963—The government establishes the News Agency Burma.

1963—The military government closes down the Nation, an outspoken defender of press freedom, arresting its editor Law Yone three months later.

1962—The Burma Press Council, or BPC, is founded "to promote and preserve freedom of the press through a voluntary observance of a code of press ethics." Writers and journalists from 52 newspapers, journals and magazines signed the BPC Charter.

Later that year, the Dictator Ne Win's Revolutionary Council revokes all existing press laws and enactes a single law, the Printers and Publishers Registration Act. The act establishes Press Scrutiny Boards to scrutinize all material prior to publication, or in some cases after publication.

1946 – 1957

* About 70 newspapers come out during this period.


April 16, 1957—The Mirror Daily, the Reporter Daily and the Pyidawsoe News Daily appear on Burmese New Year day.


August 21, 1949—The parliamentary government introduces a Bill in Parliament to limit press criticism, saying: "Any person, making criticism, defamatory allegations or charges concerning public servants, including ministers, and officials, would be recognized as committing a criminal offense."

1948—Burma gains independence. There are 39 newspapers published in various languages throughout the country. Seven of the papers are printed in English, 11 in foreign languages, five in Chinese and six in Gujarati, Urdu, Tamil, Telgu and Hindi.

1947—Burma's first constitution guarantees citizens the right to freely express their opinions and convictions. This gives the country a reputation for having one of the freest presses in Asia.


* More than 60 newspapers emerge across the country, including Japanese-language and ethnic newspapers.

1943 – 1945Kanbawza newspaper, the Kachin-language Shi Laika Ningnan, the Rangoon Liberator, the Shwe Man Aung Si, Tai-4, the British government published New Age, the Tavoyan, the Lanhnyun Daily, the Freedom, the Morning Star, Burma Economic Daily, the People’s Voice and the Guide Daily are all in circulation.

Kachin's Shi Laika Ningnan is printed in India and airdropped into the Kachin-inhabited area of northern Burma.

September 1942Domei News Service publishes a Japanese daily newspaper.


1942—The Tavoy Daily appears in Tavoy. The New Light of Burma and the Sun emerge again. Bamakhit and Mandalay Thuria appear.

1941—A Christian newspaper, the Sower and the Daily Mirror appear in Rangoon.

1940—The Mon Bulletin, the Student, World Telegrams Daily and Saturday News are published in Rangoon and Mandalay.

1939—The Advance Daily, the Burmese News Mandalay, the Shwe Pyi Daw (Burma News), Thakin Thadinsa, the Local Bodies, Lu-Nge-Let-Yone Daily and the Nationally Daily are published in Rangoon and Mandalay.

1938—The Progress, the Aazaanee, Burma's Voice, the Deedok Daily and the Leader emerge in Rangoon and Mandalay. The editor of Deedok, Ba Cho, is assassinated together with national leader Aung San on July 19, 1947.

1937Doat-Let-Yone (the Arm), claiming to be the only Arakan-language paper, is published in ArakanState. Asariya and the 10, 000, 000 (the Ten Million) are set up in Rangoon.

1935—The Rakhine-Pyi-Thadinsa, an Arakan newspaper, is published in Sittwe for four years. Ye newspaper, the Myanmar Uzun, the Burma Daily Mail and the Burmese Improvement come out in Rangoon and Mandalay.

1924 – 1934

* About 40 new newspapers emerge, tripling the number of papers since the press laws of 1908 and 1910 are repelled and amended.

1934—The Mawriya Daily appears.

1933Myanma Myochit, Daung-Settkya, the Laborer, the Success, Daung, the New Mandalay Sun Daily and the Evening Report appear.

1932Tharrawaddy, Anawyahtar, the Myanma Zeyyar, the Ma-Haw-Tha-Dha and the Rangoon Optic newspapers emerge.

1931Ratanathiha and Lawkasara Daily News come out in Sibaw, ShanState and Rangoon.

1929Kesara, the Burma Advertiser, the Burman and the Mandalay Daily Supplement to the Sun are set up in Rangoon, Mandalay and Moulmein.

1928—The National Observer and the Shwenannyun Gazette are published in Rangoon and Mandalay.

1927—The Bandoola, the Traders Spectacles, the pro-British Headman's Gazette, Essence of Buddhism and another Dhamma newspaper emerge in Rangoon.

1926—The Myanma-Myo-Nwe, Aung Myanma, Mawrawadi News, the Shwe Pyi, the Ledi Religious Instructor are published in Rangoon.

1925—The Independent Weekly, the Truth, the Market Report, the Victor (Zeya), the Trades Exchange and the Silver Moon come out in Rangoon and Mandalay.

1924—The Burmese-language Yarmanya and the Myochit newspapers appear in Moulmein and Rangoon.

1913 – 1923

* One of the longest-running newspapers, still being published by the junta today, Myanma Alin (the New Light of Burma), appears in 1914. Associated Press of India, known as API, opens an office in Rangoon and a Muslim newspaper also emerges.

1923—According to an official statement, there are 31 newspapers being published in Rangoon, Mandalay, Moulmein, Sittwe, Bassein and Tharawaddy.


1923—The Associated Press of India, known as API, opens an office in Rangoon.

1923—The Muslim Herald, the Comet, the Burmese Review and the Myanmahlut News are established. Fair Play (in Karen and English), the Rangoon Daily News and the Irrawaddy Times (in Burmese and English) are already being published. The Wunthanu (the Patriot) is also published in Rangoon with a circulation of around 5,000.

1922—The Karen Times and the New Leader appear in Rangoon and Mandalay. The following year, the New Leader changes its name to Shae-saung. In October, the Servant of Burma emerges in Rangoon. The Myanma Myo Taw Saunt and Aungzeya newspapers also begin to be published.

March 1922—The Press Law Repeal and Amendment Act is enacted. The act allows the authorities to confiscate any newspaper that runs news and opinion pieces considered as instigating revolt against the government.

1921—Burma's Progress is published by the British government but stops two years later.

1921—The Home Rule is published in Mandalay.

1920—The New Burma is set up in Rangoon and continues to be published until 1942.

May 1919Myanma Alin Thadinsa Athit (a second New Light of Burma) is published in Rangoon.

1918—The Knowledge (Pyinnya Alin) and the Burma Observer are published in Rangoon. The paper is halted in 1924 and again in 1929.

1917—The Burma Guardian and the Rangoon Mail are published in Rangoon. The Tharrawaddy Record is set up in a town near Tharrawaddy, central Burma, with a female editor.

1914Thuria and Myanma Alin publish a newsletter called War Telegrams about World War I. Thuria‘s circulation reaches about 10,000.

August 1914Myanma Alin (the New Light of Burma), an outspoken newspaper, appears no later than May 1919. It is published three times a week in Burmese. In December 1924, it becomes a daily newspaper until its publication ceases in 1929.

1901 – 1912

* Reuters News Agency opens in Rangoon. Other outspoken newspapers appear, such as the Thuria (the Sun). By 1904, there are about 15 newspapers running with circulations of up to 1,500. New newspapers continue to be established.

July 4, 1911—One of the most outspoken Burmese-language newspapers, Thuriya (the Sun), emerges three times a week. In March 1915, it becomes a daily newspaper and continues to be published until October 14, 1954. In the same year, the Salween Times appears in English.

Newspapers Running in 1910s:

The Rangoon Gazette, the Rangoon Times, the Friend of Burma, the Rangoon Advertiser, Publicity, the Maha-Bodhi News, the Burma Herald, the Burma Printer News are all published in Rangoon.

The Upper Burma Gazette, the Mandalay Herald, the Star of Burma, the Mandalay Times, Moulmein Advertiser, Moulmein Gazette and the Burma Times are all published in Mandalay.


1909—The Dawkale, published in the Karen-language of Sagaw, is published once a week by Karen Magazine Press in Bassein, Irrawaddy Division.

1908—The Burma Commercial Advertiser is published twice a week in Rangoon.

November 1907—The Burma Educational Journal is established.

May 18, 1907—The Burma Echo appears once a week in Rangoon.

April 1907—The Burma Critic begins publication in Mandalay. In the same year, a religious newspaper with the name of Dhamma Day-Tha-Nar Thadinsa appears.

August 2, 1904—The Burma Printer News emerges three times a week in Rangoon, but is stopped three years later.

July 22, 1903—The Myanmahitakari Fortnightly Journal is established.

1903—A Reuters News Agency office opens in Rangoon.

March 3, 1901—The religious Maha-Bodhi News appears once a week in Rangoon and continues to be published up until 1926.

1880 – 1900

* King Thibaw, the last Burmese monarch, is removed and Upper Burma is annexed by the British. One of the most outspoken newspapers,Hanthawaddy Thadinsa, is established along with some other new newspapers.

1900—The pro-British Burmese-language Star of Burma is published in Mandalay. It continues to be published up until 1948.


1899—The Times of Burma and the Upper Burma Gazette are established in Rangoon and Mandalay.

February 1895—The Mawlamyaing Myo (MoulmeinTown) is published in Moulmein.

1894—The English-language newspapers, the De Vaux Press Advertiser, the British Burma Advertiser, the Rangoon Commercial Advertiser and the Burma Chronicle News are all being published in Rangoon. De Vaux Press Advertiser's circulation was said to be around 1,000 a day.

The Karen National News, the Bassein Weekly News and the Advertiser are also published weekly in Bassein, Irrawaddy Division. The Karen National News written in the Karen-language of Sagu (Sgaw) reaches circulation of about 500.

1892—The English-language papers, the Daily Advertiser, the Arakan Echo and the Arakan Advocate are established in Sittwe. Later, the Daily Advertiser and the Arakan Echo combine to form the Arakan Times.

1889—The Hanthawaddy Thadinsa (the Hanthawaddy Weekly Review) appears twice a week in Rangoon. It is regarded as one of the most outspoken newspapers of its time. The newspaper covers foreign news from Reuters news agency through an agent. In 1904, its circulation reaches about 1,000.

March 3, 1887—The Mandalay Herald emerges three times a week in Mandalay. It becomes a daily in 1899 up until 1902, when the paper stopped being published.

1886—The Mandalay Times newspaper appears twice a week in Mandalay.

1884—The English-language weekly, the Maulmain Almanac, is published in Moulmein. The Burmese-language Friend of Burma is also set up in Rangoon and eventually becomes a daily newspaper before its publication stopped in 1929.


1869 – 1879

* Freedom of the press is guaranteed by King Mindon, the second last Burmese monarch, in an Act of 17 articles that is regarded as Southeast Asia’s first indigenous press-freedom law. The Kingdom publishes an official newspaper.

March 11, 1878—The British government enacts a law called the Vernacular Press Act to ban newspapers from reporting and picturing defamation of the government.


1878—The Burma Herald is set up by the King of Mandalay to counter the pro-British views of Rangoon newspapers. Two other English newspapers, the Rangoon Daily Mail and the Daily Review, are established and halted six months later.

1876—The Burmese-language Tenasserim Thadinsa (The Tenasserim News) appears in Moulmein.

March 20, 1875Yadanabon Nay-Pyi-Daw (with the heading of Mandalay Gazette in English on the masthead) is published weekly by King Mindon, possibly as early as 1874. Publication ceases in 1885 when Upper Burma is annexed by the British.

1875Yadanabon Thadinsa (British Burma News) appears in Rangoon.

August 15, 1873—King Mindon (1853 – 1878) bestowes immunity on the local press corps with the introduction of an act consisting of 17 articles that ensure freedom of the press.

November 1874—The Burmese-language Friend of Maulmain newspaper appears in Moulmein.

January 11, 1873Law-Ki-Thu-Ta (the Worldly Knowledge) newspaper emerges in Rangoon.

May 8, 1871—The Burmese-language paper, the Burmah Gazette, appears in Rangoon. This weekly newspaper alters its name to the Burma News in May 1872. It ceases publication in 1916.

1869Myanmar Thandawsint Thadinsa (the Burmah Herald) is published once a week by Myanmar Thandawsint Press, possibly as early as 1871. It is the first Burmese-language newspaper in Rangoon. In 1884, it becomes a daily with a circulation of around 500. It ceases publication in 1912.


1858 – 1868

* At least three new newspapers emerge. There are six newspapers being published during this period.

1862—The Dhamma Thadinsa (the Religious Herald), first published by the Baptist mission in 1843, changes its name to the Burman Messenger.

The Times Commercial Advertiser, the Daily Advertiser, Pole Star, British Burma Gazette, the Mercantile Gazette and the Arakan News are still published during this period according to newspaper research conducted in 1868.

1861—The Rangoon Gazette is established as a rival of the Rangoon Times. It is published twice a week and later daily. It ceases publication in 1942.

June 2, 1858—The English-language Rangoon Times is published, possibly as early as 1854. The newspaper began as a twice-weekly publication, however, it increased to three times a week by 1861 and later became a daily. It ceased publication in 1942, when the British left Rangoon.

1847 – 1857

* About four English-language newspapers emerge. One is published by ethnic Arakan in the capital of Sittwe, Arakan state. The British legislation council enacts a law, known as the "law to shut mouth" banning the publication of news without prior approval.

June 13, 1857—Lord Canning, the Governor General of India from 1856-1862, introduces a law banning the publication of any news without prior approval in an attempt to regulate the press.

1853—The twice-weekly English-language Akyab (Sittwe) Commercial Advertiser is published in Sittwe, by Arakan Weekly News Press. The following year, the paper changes its name to the Arakan News. Circulation reached about 150.

January 5, 1853—The Rangoon Chronicle newspaper is published twice a week. Later, it changes its name to the Pegu Gazette. It ceased publication in May 1958.

1849—A weekly publication, the English-language Friend of Burmah newspaper, starts in Moulmein.

July 1, 1848—The English-language paper, the Maulmain Advertiser, is published in Moulmein. It may have first appeared as early as 1846. The paper, published three times a week by W. Thomas & Co, altered its name to the Maulmain Times in 1850, but the following year it resumed its previous name.

1836 – 1846

* During this period the first English-language newspaper was launched under British-ruled Tenasserim, southern Burma. The first ethnic Karen-language and Burmese-language newspapers also appear in this period.  36

 1846—The Maulmain Free Press newspaper is published by an English merchant in Moulmein.

January 1843—The Baptist mission publishes a monthly newspaper, the Christian Dhamma Thadinsa (the Religious Herald), in Moulmein. Supposedly the first Burmese-language newspaper, it continued up until the first year of the second Anglo-Burmese War in 1853. In 1862 the paper resumed publication under a different name, the Burman Messenger.

September 1842—Tavoy's Hsa-tu-gaw (the Morning Star), a monthly publication in the Karen-language of Sgaw, is established by the Baptist mission. It is the first ethnic language newspaper. Circulation reached about three hundred until its publication ceased in 1849.

March 3, 1836—The first English-language newspaper, The Maulmain Chronicle, appears in the city of Moulmein in British-ruled Tenasserim. The paper, first published by a British official named E.A. Blundell, continued up until the 1950s.


Index of Burma Newspapers, Volumes 1 and 2, by Htin Gyi

A Journalist, A General and An Army in Burma, (1995), by U Thaung

Inked Over, Ripped Out, by Anna J. Allott

Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, Status of Media in, by Bertil Lintner

His Majesty’s Newspaper, by Htin Gyi

Some Early Newspapers in Myanmar, by Hla Thein

Research by Kyaw Zwa Moe.

Additional Updates: Thet Ko Ko & Wei Yan Aung.

The post Burma's Media Landscape Through the Years appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Broadcaster’s Terminology in Arakan Conflict Coverage Irks Military

Posted: 04 May 2016 01:02 AM PDT

A screenshot of the MRTV-4 broadcast about the conflict between the Arakan Army and government troops in Arakan State. (Photo: Myawaddy / Facebook)

A screenshot of the MRTV-4 broadcast about the conflict between the Arakan Army and government troops in Arakan State. (Photo: Myawaddy / Facebook)

RANGOON — Burma's military, officially known as the Tatmadaw, strongly condemned a Burmese broadcaster for calling an ethnic armed organization the "Rakhine Tatmadaw" and referring to Tatmadaw troops as "government forces," according to a military statement released Tuesday night.

MRTV-4, a private broadcaster affiliated with Burma's Ministry of Information, aired a story on Friday in which it reported that 1,100 locals in Arakan State, also known as Rakhine State, were recently displaced by fighting between the "Rakhine Tatmadaw"—in reference to the Arakan Army—and "government forces."

The military took exception to the word "Tatmadaw" being used to describe any group that is not the state armed forces, officially translated as the Defense Services in English. Further stoking ire was the replacement of the word Tatmadaw with "government forces," a term which the military apparently felt had diminished its authority.

"In every country in the world, there is only one armed forces to safeguard the country," read a statement from the Tatmadaw True News Information Team. "And Section 337 of the 2008 Constitution states that the Tatmadaw is the main armed force assembled for the defense of the Union."

"This misuse of the word 'Tatmadaw' defames the image and dignity of the Tatmadaw, and implies that MRTV-4 supports the Rakhine insurgent group," continued the Tatmadaw statement.

"MRTV-4 failed to follow media ethics and it was an unfair broadcast. On behalf of the Defense Services [Army, Navy and Air], we strongly condemn and call upon officials to take necessary action."

The military's indignation—"fumes" was the verb chosen by English-language state media to describe the Tatmadaw's mood—was not ineffectual.

Shortly after the Tatmadaw statement was issued, MRTV-4 posted an apology on its official Facebook account.

MRTV-4 "unintentionally misused" the term "[Rakhine] Tatmadaw" in reference to the "AA insurgent group," according to the apology.

"The editorial team failed to properly check the story and apologizes to the Defense Services … for upsetting them," it continued.

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Press Freedom in Burma

Posted: 04 May 2016 12:00 AM PDT

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The post Press Freedom in Burma appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Nobel Laureate Urges Modi to Curb Child Slavery as India Reels from Drought

Posted: 03 May 2016 11:37 PM PDT

 Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, takes part in a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York on Sept. 27, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, takes part in a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York on Sept. 27, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

NEW DELHI — Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has appealed to the prime minister of India to prioritize children and ensure they are not trafficked, forced into marriage or put into bonded labor as the country reels from its worst drought in decades.

In a letter to Narendra Modi, the child rights activist urged him to declare the drought a national emergency, saying that the lives of more than 160 million children were at stake.

"Reports of children being forced into child labor, trafficking, child marriage, and the devadasi [dedicating girls to service in temples] system are coming to light with children increasingly dropping out from school … and large scale migration due to this crisis," Satyarthi wrote.

The letter was circulated to the media on Tuesday by his office.

"Owing to this drought and the ongoing water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable. In the coming months, there is an increased risk of lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of children becoming victims of these circumstances."

The government estimates more than 330 million people—almost a quarter of India's population—have been hit by the scarcity of water in states such as Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south.

As crops wither and livestock perish, tens of thousands of people are migrating in search of food, water and jobs, leaving behind women, children and older family members who are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.

Figures given by Satyarthi's office showed the number of children dropping out of school in the 10 drought-affected states had risen by 22 percent, while child trafficking cases had increased by 24 percent.

Satyarthi, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, ended his letter calling upon Modi make children "a top priority" in the government's relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The post Nobel Laureate Urges Modi to Curb Child Slavery as India Reels from Drought appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Tough-Talking Mayor Keeps Poll Lead a Week Before Philippine Elections

Posted: 03 May 2016 10:28 PM PDT

 Supporters pose for a picture with a mascot depicting Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte before a May Day campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, on May 1, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Supporters pose for a picture with a mascot depicting Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte before a May Day campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, on May 1, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

MANILA — A tough-talking mayor running for the presidency of the Philippines has kept his double-digit lead five days before elections, despite allegations he had undeclared millions of pesos in a bank, the latest opinion poll has showed.

Rodrigo Duterte was the number one choice among 33 percent of Filipinos in the Pulse Asia survey done on April 26-29, the same numbers from a similar survey among 4,000 respondents a week earlier, the poll released late on Tuesday showed.

Manuel Roxas, President Benigno Aquino's hand-picked successor, moved up a spot into second place for the first time since June 2015 after rising 2 points to 22 percent support.

Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars, fell back to third after dropping a point to 21 percent.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was in fourth place with 17 percent after losing a point, while support for Senator Miriam Santiago was unchanged at 2 percent.

"The survey did not reflect significant changes," Pulse Asia president Professor Ronald Holmes said.

Political analysts said Duterte had struck a chord with most Filipinos who were frustrated and disappointed with the government's inability to address mass transport and traffic problems in the capital, Manila.

His strong anti-crime platform also resonated among voters across all economic classes and in all geographical regions.

However, Holmes noted a dip in Duterte's support in Manila over allegations he had not declared 211 million pesos (US$4.5 million) in his bank account.

The allegations about the undeclared money were made last week by Senator Antonio Trillanes, a candidate for vice president. Peter Lavina, a spokesman for Duterte, said the allegations were "nothing but a publicity stunt."

The poll follows a tricky week for Duterte, who has also been trying to manage the fallout from controversial remarks he made at a campaign rally about an Australian missionary murdered and raped during a 1989 prison riot.

About 54 million Filipinos, including overseas workers, are eligible to vote in Monday's elections.

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Bangkok Temple Now a Venerated Site for Leicester City Fans

Posted: 03 May 2016 09:57 PM PDT

Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan poses for a portrait next to holy cloths with Leicester City's logo on them, at his temple in Bangkok on April 18, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan poses for a portrait next to holy cloths with Leicester City's logo on them, at his temple in Bangkok on April 18, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

BANGKOK — Tucked in the Chinatown area of Bangkok is a Buddhist temple that has turned overnight into a venerated site for Leicester City's fans, at least the ones in Thailand.

After all, it was the chief monk of that temple who some months ago had predicted that the team, which was a 5,000:1 outsider at the start of the season, would win the English Premier League title.

The prediction came true on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning fans were flocking to the Golden Buddha temple, hoping to get their hands on Leicester City banners blessed by the monk, Phra Prommangkalachan, who is revered by the club's Thai owners.

But no banners were for sale, the monk's assistant, Korpsin Uiamsa-ard, told the throngs of disappointed fans.

"I never believed in blessings until now," said Ling Prakorpvoon, 51, who came from the neighboring province of Chonburi for the blessed banner. "He [the monk] is incredible. Leicester never won and now this miracle."

Premier League football is popular among Thais, but many are fans of better-known teams such as Manchester United or Chelsea.

"The odds [of Leicester winning the title] were quite low. I am a follower of the monk himself and I think he is magical and holy," said Songwit Suwannaram, who has been the monk's follower for more than 10 years. "I so badly want the Leicester banner now because this just happened."

In fact, only a few such banners exist, said Korpsin, wearing Leicester City's dark blue jersey. He showed The Associated Press one of them—a rectangular yellow silk cloth with blue tassels and the club's fox emblem emblazoned on it. The fox is surrounded by Buddhist religious symbols.

Korpsin said the banners will not be sold but will be given to people chosen by Prommangkalachan.

"At the start of the year, if I had forced someone to take the Leicester team banner, no one would have touched it. Who would've thought?" he said in an interview in a small room in the sprawling temple complex not far from the city's main train station.

The monk came into prominence when Thailand's King Power duty free company, owned by billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, bought Leicester City six years ago. Vichai is a devotee of Prommangkalachan and got him to bless the team.

The monk himself was not available for an interview but in an interview with Thailand's Spring News cable TV channel in March, Prommangkalachan said that when he traveled to England the first time to give the blessings he realized there were "no meditations or blessings related to football."

"I scoured through all my books and manual, for anything that could be used to bless a football team. But there was no football in ancient times," he said. However, "I found blessings for war, which is similar to football games … It seemed the most fitting for the situation, so I used this."

Vichai has also flown several monks from the temple—its Thai name is Wat Traimitr Withayaram—to England to bless the team, the King Power stadium in Leicester City, and also to lead spiritual sessions for the players.

Prommangkalachan said Leicester's success has less to do with his blessings than with Vichai's karma, or the results of a person's actions. "Not just his karma. So many people played a part in this success," he said. "All I helped to do is to make our home, the stadium, a holy ground."

The temple plans to give gold amulets, blessed by Prommangkalachan, to each of the club's players. The unblessed amulets are sold in the temple's shop for about $1,700. Korpsin said two bigger amulets are reserved for Vichai and the team coach Claudio Ranieri, probably valued at about $5,000.

Even the young disciples who live and work at the temple are now fans of Leicester City, said Korpsin. "They all used to be Manchester United or Liverpool fans."

Now they wear the team's dark blue jerseys as they sweep leaves off the temple grounds and carry on other chores.

And at night? "They all transform—they wear Leicester's white away-game jerseys and chant its name while watching the game," said Korpsin.

The post Bangkok Temple Now a Venerated Site for Leicester City Fans appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

National News

National News

YCDC presses forward with ‘new city’

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Yangon City Development Committee is breathing new life into the proposed new city project, a massive extension of Yangon that would create seven satellite cities over the next quarter-century.

Fire sweeps through Sittwe IDP camp

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

A devastating fire ripped through the Baw Du Ba 2 camp near the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe yesterday morning, destroying shelters for some 2000 Muslims confined there since communal conflict erupted in 2012.

ANP presses forced-porter issue

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Ignoring the denials and rising tempers of Tatmadaw MPs, the Arakan National Party has proposed bringing victims of the army's forced porter scheme into parliament.

US embassy asked to refrain from using ‘Rohingya’: official

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Bowing to nationalist pressure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday requested the US embassy in Yangon refrain from using the term "Rohingya", according to an official.

NLD wants fewer by-elections

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

A bill banning by-elections in the first and last year of a government's term was submitted to parliament by the National League for Democracy yesterday.

NLD punishes MP for peace mission

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

The National League for Democracy has disciplined one of its MPs for making an unauthorised mission to the Wa stronghold of Panghsang where he discussed the peace process with Myanmar's most powerful ethnic armed group.

MOI chief to push for broadcasting law reform

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Information Minister U Pe Myint has pledged to reform the controversial broadcasting law passed by the previous government, according to the Myanmar Media Council.

Media expresses frustrations with NLD restrictions on World Press Freedom Day

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Media organisations urged the government to implement a Freedom of Information Act during a World Press Day ceremony in Yangon.

Japan pledges more aid for Myanmar

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged his ongoing support for Myanmar's development as his government continues its large-scale assistance to the country.

Rakhine MP questions sluggish changes to ferry network

Posted: 03 May 2016 02:30 PM PDT

Private shipping companies have been profiting from the government's failure to resume ferry operations off southern Rakhine State since the Aung Takon 3 disaster of March 2015, a local MP has charged.