Tag Archives: UN

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: March 31, 2022

Afghanistan
Central Bank Holds Street Demonstration to Free Foreign Assets: Tolo News

The Central Bank held an exhibit on a street in Kabul city displaying photos and banners to encourage the international community and particularly the US to release the Afghan assets that remain in the US banks. Click here to read…

China, US, Russia, Pakistan to Hold Talks on Afghanistan: Tolo News

A top US diplomat will meet this week in China to discuss issues in Afghanistan with his Chinese, Russian and Pakistani counterparts, the Chinese foreign ministry and the State Department said on Tuesday. Click here to read…

Prosperous Afghanistan is in interest of regional countries, international community: President Xi: The Khaama Press

China’s President Xi Jinping said a prosperous, peaceful, and stable Afghanistan is not only a hope of the Afghanistan people but also in the interest of the countries in the region and the world community. Click here to read…

Bangladesh
Indo-Bangla ties vital for South Asia’s stability- The Daily Star

Constructive Bangladesh-India ties could be a major stabilising factor for South Asia, said State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, insisting on resolving the irritants and harnessing the potentials of the two countries. Click here to read…

UNGA vote on Russia: Dhaka stood for humanity- The Daily Star

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution reprimanding Russia for invading Ukraine as it was against a particular country. Click here to read…

Malaysia’s role in Rohingya issue lauded- The Daily Star

Malaysia’s strong support to Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis was lauded at a webinar that focused on shared heritage and good relations between the two countries. Click here to read…

Misuse of law stifles press freedom- The Daily Star

The country’s newspapers have made significant contribution to the Liberation War struggle, creating a nation as well as establishing democracy, said speakers yesterday. Click here to read…

Border deaths a major stain on bilateral engagement with India: Shahriar- The Daily Star

The death toll of Bangladeshis on the border has become a major stain on bilateral engagement with India, along with the thorny water-sharing issue of transboundary 54 rivers, said State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam today. Click here to read…

PM enjoys concert while public struggle to buy food: BNP- The Daily Star

BNP today slammed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for joining a gala concert that was organised by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) spending crores of taka, while they claimed that common people are struggling to cope with skyrocketing prices of daily essentials. Click here to read…

The biggest joy: PM breaks down in tears in parliament- The Daily Star

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today broke down in tears in the parliament while stating that providing land and houses from the government to the destitute in Bangladesh has been one of the biggest joys of her life. Click here to read…

Bangladesh Embassy gives reception to diplomats in Egypt marking Independence Day- The Daily Star

On the occasion of the Independence Day and National Day of Bangladesh, the Embassy of Bangladesh hosted a reception and dinner in honour of foreign diplomats in Egypt. Click here to read…

Bhutan
Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal meet Sri Lankan President: Colombo Page

The Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal who are in Sri Lanka to attend the BIMSTEC Summit called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the President’s House in Colombo this afternoon (30). Click here to read…

Maldives
MMPRC launches campaigns to market Maldives in Southeast Asia: Raajje Mv

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) have launched campaigns to promote Maldives in the Southeast Asian market. Click here to read…

Myanmar
Response to Ukraine underscores foot-dragging on Myanmar crisis- Frontier Myanmar

But in Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup more than one year ago, the expressions of support for the Ukrainian people are all the more moving because of the terrifying risks implicit in the very act of gathering – being shot by soldiers or police officers, or arbitrary arrest, torture and death in custodyClick here to read…

Response plan launched to support 1.4 million Rohingya and Bangladeshis – UN News

“Humanitarian agencies are seeking more than $881 million to support approximately 1.4 million people, including over 918,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, and around 540,000 Bangladeshis in neighbouring communities,” UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists during a press briefing in Geneva. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s rebellion, divided, outgunned and outnumbered, fights on – Washington Post

Nearly seven months after Myanmar’s parallel government declared a “people’s defensive war” against the military junta, pro-democracy rebels are hanging on — not winning, but not losing either — using explosives, black market weapons and widespread popular support to keep junta soldiers out of key territories. Click here to read…

Misreading the room: Why Hun Sen is failing on Myanmar – Aljazeera

When Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen became the first head of state to visit Myanmar since the military seized power in a coup last year, he seemed to think he would be able to bring the generals back into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) despite the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis. Click here to read…

Damning report exposes atrocities committed by junta forces in Myanmar – People’s Dispatch

The 193-page report accuses army chief General Min Aung Hlaing of creating a special command that deployed snipers to kill unarmed protesters. It also identifies 61 military and police officials from the junta forces who it recommends must be investigated for committing crimes against humanity Click here to read…

Nepal
Nepal PM Deuba’s visit to India: How New Delhi can drive Kathmandu’s policy of strategic diversify: Daiji World

Nepal PM Deuba’s visit to India: How New Delhi can drive Kathmandu’s policy of strategic diversific. Additionally, it has also been reported that Deuba and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are likely to inaugurate the Kurtha-Jayanagar Railway Project. Click here to read…

Milestones in India-Nepal development partnership: ANI

Recent initiatives and milestones in India’s development cooperation with Nepal are likely to be highlighted during the upcoming visit of Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India, his first official trip since his appointment as PM in July last year. Click here to read…

Pakistan
Editorial: Fait accompli: Dawn

THE prime minister is as good as gone. With the MQM’s departure, the coalition government has lost the sliver of a margin it stood on. There is at the moment not much that Prime Minister Imran Khan can do politically to prevent further desertions. The mysterious foreign letter he had hoped would rehabilitate his misfortunes seems now to have been of limited utility. Click here to read…

PM discloses contents of ‘threat letter: Dawn

The government confirmed on Wednesday that its allegation about a foreign conspiracy against the prime minister was based on a diplomatic cable received from one of the country’s missions abroad. Click here to read…

No-trust vote: Sindh nationalist parties unhappy with PPP, MQM-P pact: The Express Tribune

Hours after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership reached written agreements, Sindhi nationalist parties on Wednesday expressed “serious concerns” over it. Click here to read…

China agrees to fresh rollover of $2.5bn commercial loans: The News

Out of the approximately $21 billion in outstanding official loans, including commercial, bilateral and safe deposits, China has agreed in principle for granting a fresh rollover of $2.5 billion in commercial loans to Pakistan for one year. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Explained: Sri Lanka economic crisis and India’s $2.5 billion line of credit: Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka economic crisis: India has lent over $2.5 billion in credit so far, in addition to $500 million for a shipment of diesel. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka: No medicines, 10-hour power cuts as economic crisis worsens: Business Standard

Ceylon Petroleum requested the public not to queue for diesel on Wednesday and Thursday after the state-run refiner failed to unload a shipment of 37,500 metric tonnes of the fuel. Click here to read…

Myanmar Round Up – February 2022

01 February 2022 marks the first anniversary of the military coup. Last year on this day the Myanmar military took over the power in the country and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and the elected leaders of the National League of Democracy. In the past year following the coup, the military has faced widespread protests and discontent because of its actions. The military has used force and various other tactics to curb the resistance. However, the opposition and resistance continue. Internationally, as the military coup and atrocities continue, countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have imposed further sanctions. The Russian actions against Ukraine received mixed responses in Myanmar, which are discussed in the latter part of the article.

Domestic and Political Situation

On the eve of the first anniversary of the military coup, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing proposed to extend the military rule for another six months, which Myint Swe, the military-appointed president, approved. On 01 February, the country witnessed large scale protests and rallies. A nationwide strike marked the first anniversary of the military seizure of power. The photos and videos of ‘silent strike’ were all over the social media. The streets were emptied and businesses were shut in a show of opposition to the military rule. The people also raised the three fingers resistance salute. At places, bombings were carried out targeting a police station and homes of military officers and other sites. Opposition militants carry out daily hit-and-run guerrilla attacks, while the military generally engages in larger-scale assaults that are blamed for many civilian casualties. [1]

To counter these protests and rallies, the military regime organised more than 170 pro-military rallies a week preceding the coup anniversary in 140 towns across Myanmar. The regime also organised sports events, forced shops to open and required people to receive COVID-19 jabs. The regime had earlier warned that anyone who closed their business or shop on the day could face charges carrying sentences of up to life imprisonment, including confiscation of their properties. The military also arrested a few shop owners who notified customers that they would close their businesses on 01 February.[2]

On the anniversary of the coup, Min Aung Hlaing justified the coup for the protection and promotion of Buddhism. He argued that Buddhism declined under the NLD government and criticised the NLD for banning the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion.[3] The group is under attack internationally for its hate speech and was banned by the NLD in 2017. They are known internationally for its hate speech against non-Buddhists. Recently, Min Aung Hlaing visited former chair, Ashin Tilawkar Biwonsa and even conferred a religious title on him. He also criticised the NLD government for prohibiting visits to pagodas and religious buildings, which he re-opened recently. The buildings were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions to prevent crowds.

The following day, Min Aung Hlaing held the first cabinet meeting of the year and highlighted the three sectors that would be prioritised in 2022. These are – to improve the economy; set up a genuine, disciplined multi-party democracy through the general election scheduled for 2023; and form an all-inclusive defence system.[4]

There was also news to dismantle six departments under Myanmar’s police and incorporate the officers into the military to strengthen its fight against the anti-coup resistance movement. These police departments are under the “special departments” of maritime, aviation, tourist, oil field, forestry and highway police forces. The police battalions are combat-trained, and since last year’s coup, they have been involved in crackdowns on protests and clashes with the armed resistance movement. As an institution, Myanmar’s police is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs and under military control as per the 2008 Constitution.

On 08 February, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, U Wunna Maung Lwin, gave a diplomatic briefing on the recent developments in Myanmar. The Union Minister briefed regarding the formation of the State Administration Council (SAC), transferring three branches of state to the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and scrutinizing the 2020 electoral process and the SAC’s endeavours to implement a five-point roadmap. He also emphasised establishing friendly relations with foreign nations, Myanmar’s cooperation with the ASEAN countries and Myanmar’s cooperation with the United Nations.

In addition to these, issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidents of killings and damages of public buildings and infrastructure by PDF, the seizures of arms and ammunition and notifying of NUG and PDF as terrorist groups to UNCTED, ACCT, ASEANAPOL and INTERPOL, positive cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and implementation of democracy and federalism in the country were discussed. Similar issues were discussed by U Khin Maung Oo, member of the Union Election Commission (UEC), Dr Yin Yin Nwe, Member of Advisory Board of the Chairman of the SAC, Dr Salai Ngun Cung Lian, and Police Brig. Gen. Aung Htay Myint of Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs.[5]

During the month, attacks and conflicts were noted across the country. For instance, hundreds of houses were burned down by the military in the northwestern Sagaing region. However, the state-run Myanmar Alinn Daily newspaper claimed that houses were burned by members of the opposite resistance defence force. [6] The allied KIA and Putao PDF seized a base belonging to a military-aligned militia in Putao, and in response, the military opened fire on the area with helicopters. [7] The informal ceasefire between Arakan Army and the military also came under attack as a clash broke out in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township on 04 February.[8]

According to a United Nations Spokesperson, around 114 children have been killed by the Myanmar military since the 2021 coup. Recently, the military took a group of civilians, including at least 80 children, in the Sagaing region, hostage for two days. The National Unity Government (NUG) accused the army of a “grave violation” of international law. [9] Following the participation of children against the military forces, several parents have posted notices cutting ties with their children. The military has claimed that it would take over the properties of its opponents and arrest people giving shelter to protesters.[10]

In order to help the local economy, the military is planning to release a digital currency. According to a report from Bloomberg, Major General Zaw Min Tun said rolling out a digital currency would “help improve financial activities in Myanmar”. The digital currency is aimed at supporting payments within Myanmar as well as improving the economy. The country’s shadow government announced in December 2021 that it would recognise Tether (USDT) as an official currency.[11]

International Responses

The United States imposed new sanctions on Myanmar officials. The measures freeze any assets the listed officials may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them. Britain and Canada announced similar measures. At the anniversary of the military coup, several Church leaders have renewed their calls on the UK Government to use diplomacy to ensure that democracy is restored in Myanmar.[12] Further, Myanmar’s shadow government, NUG, stated that it accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear allegations that the country committed genocide against Rohingya. However, it urged the ICJ to deal with Myanmar’s permanent representative to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun. [13]

In a move to take down the makeshift tents, Thailand deported the refugees back to the Myanmar side. As a result, more than 3,000 Myanmar refugees are now stranded on the Myanmar side of the Thaung Yin River and are residing in temporary huts. Though many have returned home, some of the 20,000 refugees remain on the Thai side and have received support from residents.[14]

Australia’s Foreign Minister called for the “immediate release” of economics Professor Sean Turnell, who was detained by Myanmar’s military in February 2021. He was working as an adviser to civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The Australian economist has been charged with violating Myanmar’s official secrets law and faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison if found guilty. [15]

During the month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called upon the Japan-based Yokogawa Bridge Corporation to end its partnership with Myanmar military-owned conglomerate, Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). In March 2014, Yokogawa Bridge Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese Yokogawa Bridge Holdings Corp., signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with MEC. MEC is owned by Myanmar’s Defence Ministry and is a “direct source of revenue” for Myanmar’s military. However, in April 2021, Yokogawa Bridge Holdings Corp. stated that construction of the bridge had been halted due to the “situation on the ground” and that it would “conduct business that respects human rights.” But the documents for the same have not been revealed.[16]

Russian actions against Ukraine received mixed responses in the country. The military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, praised Russia for its actions in a “desire to consolidate Russian sovereignty” and depicted Russia as a force to ensure the balance of power. He also expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the pro-democracy protestors in Myanmar raised slogans against the Russian actions. In Yangon, activists staged a flash mob protest, shouting anti-regime slogans and waving placards with slogans like “In Solidarity with Ukraine.” In Kachin State, a rally to show their support for Ukraine was held. Further, the NUG said that it condemned the Russian war against Ukraine and its people, adding “Myanmar stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”[17]

Conclusion

Over the past year, there have been mass protests and armed resistance in the country. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners verified that the military has killed around 1500 people. In addition, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 320,000 people have been internally displaced because of the continued conflict over the last year. The solution to the current crises is bringing all the stakeholders together and holding the military accountable first for its actions.

Endnotes :

[1]https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/myanmar-takeover-anniversary-marked-strike-intl-concern-82594623
[2]https://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/guest-column/myanmar-junta-fails-the-sovereignty-test.html
[3]The group, known as Ma Ba Tha, was formed in 2012 out of the 969 movement, a nationalist campaign that called for a boycott of Muslim-owned businesses, and was rebranded as Ma Ba Tha the following year.
[4] https://www.mizzima.com/article/myanmar-military-junta-discusses-economy-voting-system-and-controversial-conscription
[5]https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/union-minister-for-foreign-affairs-briefs-diplomats-and-un-resident-representatives-in-yangon
[6] https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/myanmar-villagers-army-troops-burned-400-houses-82650389
[7]https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/thousands-of-civilians-displaced-by-military-air-offensive-in-ye-u
[8] https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/casualties-reported-junta-troops-clash-arakan-army-maungdaw-twsp
[9] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-troops-accused-holding-children-hostage-during-clashes-2022-02-28/
[10] https://thewire.in/world/myanmar-fearing-the-ruling-military-junta-hundreds-of-parents-disown-dissident-children
[11]https://cointelegraph.com/news/myanmar-s-military-government-considers-launching-digital-currency-report
[12] https://churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/2022/articles/first-anniversary-of-myanmar-military-coup-fresh-calls-for-diplomatic-solution
[13]https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-shadow-government-drops-objections-icjs-rohingya-genocide-case-2022-02-02/
[14] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/thailand-02012022092914.html
[15] https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/australia-urges-myanmar-to-free-detained-economist
[16] https://www.mizzima.com/article/japan-construction-giant-should-end-myanmar-military-partnership-says-ngo
[17] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-democracy-activists-hold-rallies-in-support-of-ukraine.html