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Dialogue/reform/transition - analyses and statements

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Constitutional Review
Description/subject: A useful collection of articles, documents, analyses etc.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Network Myanmar
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 25 March 2014


Individual Documents

Title: In Pursuit of Justice: Reflections on the past and hopes for the future of Burma
Date of publication: 07 July 2014
Description/subject: INTRODUCTION: "Since 2011, Burma has begun to emerge from 50 dark years of dictatorship. Now, under President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government the possibility has arisen for Burma to begin rebuilding and reconciling divided segments of the nation, and to provide justice to victims for decades of human rights abuses. Burma’s minority ethnic communities have experienced grave human rights abuse at the hands of the SPDC regime and its strong arm of the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw. In order to transition successfully towards true democracy and national reconciliation, the Burmese government must address, and act upon, the specific needs expressed by victims of past abuse, documented and expounded herein, in order to move away from the abusive culture of the past towards a united future. Within this report you will find a detailed history of Burma’ ethnic conflict, how that conflict has been sewn into the very fabric of the SPDC regime’s ideology and governing strategy, and ways in which the Tatmadaw has implemented the regime’s strategy by crippling livelihoods, physically and mentally abusing, and destroying the security of Burma’s minority ethnic communities. The purpose of this report is to guide the Burmese government in the implementation of mechanisms of transitional justice in Burma. To achieve this goal, this report looks at Burma’s history of human rights violations and analyzes how to repair the relationship between the government and the citizens. The government has committed, and continues to commit, vast numbers of human rights abuses against its minority ethnic communities, violations including land confiscation; forced labor and forced portering; physical abuse, torture, and murder; and rape and sexual abuse. In order for the Burmese government to employ appropriate mechanisms of justice, this report identifies the effects such violations have had on the victims, and what the victims require from the government to provide adequate justice and reparations for such violations. Through this report, HURFOM hopes to hold a megaphone to the voices of Burma’s ethnic people regarding past human rights abuses. This report addresses victims’ expectations of the government for a future democratic Burma. Of utmost importance to building peace in Burma are three key elements of trust-building, national reconciliation, and transitional justice. The government must implement appropriate mechanisms to fulfill these three objectives in order to create sustainable peace throughout the country. Central to achieving these goals is the de-structuring of the SPDC’s pervasive culture of impunity surrounding human rights violations against its citizens. While impunity, unaccountability, extortion, and corruption continue to exist, there can be no repair of trust or unity within the society. Without eliminating all impunity, there will be no reconciliation in Burma. Minority ethnic communities in Burma have been traumatized by decades of abuse and exploitation. It is HURFOM’s hope that this report will push the government to provide healing to the victims from such trauma with realistic solutions and reparations. HURFOM also hopes to attract the world’s attention and urge international agencies and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to support reparations in Burma."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB-reduced version; 1.91MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://rehmonnya.org/archives/3198 (Media release)
http://www.rehmonnya.org/reports/in-pursuit-of-justice.pdf
Date of entry/update: 15 July 2014


Title: Myanmar’s Military: Back to the Barracks? (English)
Date of publication: 22 April 2014
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has been the dominant institution in the country for most of its post-independence history. After decades of military rule, it began the shift to a semi-civilian government. A new ge neration of leaders in the military and in government pushed the transition far further and much faster than anyone could have imagined. Major questions remain, however, about the Tatmadaw’s intentions, its ongoing involvement in politics and the economy, and whether and within what timeframe it will accept to be brought unde r civilian control. Transforming from an all-powerful military to one that accepts democratic constraints on its power will be an enormous challenge..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (Asia Briefing 143)
Format/size: pdf (289K-reduced version; 2.5MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/b143-myanmar-s-military-back-to-the-barracks.pdf
Date of entry/update: 06 June 2014


Title: Myanmar’s Military: Back to the Barracks? ျမန္မာ့တပ္မေတာ္ စစ္တန္းလ်ားသို႔ ျပန္ၿပီလား (Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 22 April 2014
Description/subject: I ၿခဳံငုံသုံးသပ္ခ်က္ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၏ စစ္တပ္ သို႔မဟုတ္ တပ္မေတာ္သည္ လြတ္လပ္ေရးအလြန္ သမိုင္း တစ္ေလွ်ာက္လုံးတြင္ တိုင္းျပည္၌ ၾသဇာလႊမ္းေသာ အင္စတီက်ဴး႐ွင္းတစ္ခု ျဖစ္ခဲ့သည္။ ဆယ္စု ႏွစ္မ်ားခ်ီေသာ စစ္အုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ေရး အၿပီးတြင္မူ အရပ္သားတစ္ပိုင္းအစိုးရအျဖစ္သို႔ ကူးေျပာင္းမႈကို စတင္ခဲ့သည္။ အစိုးရအဖြဲ႕ႏွင့္ စစ္တပ္မွ မ်ဳိးဆက္သစ္ေခါင္းေဆာင္မ်ားသည္ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္း မႈကို လူတကာ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ထားသည္ထက္ မ်ားစြာ ပိုမို ျမန္ဆန္စြာျဖင့္ ေ၀းေ၀းတြန္းခဲ့ၾကသည္။ သို႔ရာတြင္ ႏိုင္ငံေရးႏွင့္ စီးပြားေရးတြင္ ဆက္လက္ပတ္သက္ေနမႈႏွင့္ မည္သည့္အခ်ိန္ကာလ ေရာက္မွ အရပ္ဖက္အစိုးရ၏ ထိန္းခ်ဳပ္မႈေအာက္သို႔၀င္ရန္ လက္ခံမလဲ စေသာ တပ္မေတာ္၏ ရည္႐ြယ္ခ်က္မ်ားႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္၍ သံသယျဖစ္ဖြယ္ အဓိကေမးခြန္းမ်ား က်န္႐ွိေနသည္။ အရာရာ ၾသဇာအာဏာႀကီးေသာ စစ္တပ္အျဖစ္မွ ယင္း၏အာဏာအေပၚ ဒီမိုကေရစီနည္းက်ကန္႔သတ္မႈကို လက္ခံေသာ စစ္တပ္အျဖစ္သို႔ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈသည္ ႀကီးမားေသာ စိန္ေခၚမႈ တစ္ခုျဖစ္လိမ့္ မည္။
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (Asia Briefing 143)
Format/size: pdf (549K-reduced version; 1MB-original)
Date of entry/update: 06 June 2014


Title: Myanmar leaves old dichotomies behind
Date of publication: 14 March 2014
Description/subject: "Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. The rise of Myanmese President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government in 2011 was met largely with skepticism that his administration would be a continuation of military rule by different means. Such concerns were justified, as Thein Sein had served as prime minister under the previous ruling military junta. First introduced as the "seven step roadmap" to democracy in 2003, the entire democratic "reform" process was designed and implemented exclusively by the ruling generals. The culmination of this process resulted in the staging and rigging of the 2010 general elections to ensure the victory of the military's political surrogate, the Union of Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), led by a number of recently retired senior military officers. To be sure, the military's manipulation of the electoral process and new democratic structures has been obvious. The exact motivations behind the military's introduction of a new democratic order and move away from direct military rule are still unclear. The implication of such an extensive reconfiguration of the state is, however, significant in its own right..."
Author/creator: Adam P MacDonald
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 May 2014


Title: On the Road to Democracy? Political Liberalization in Myanmar
Date of publication: January 2014
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s liberalizing reforms initiated by President Thein Sein after taking office in March 2011 are raising high hopes of peace and democracy in the country. Progress, after nearly three years, has however been uneven: there have been positive developments in the area of press freedom, with regard to political prisoners and in dealing with the political opposition. At the same time the dialogue with ethnic groups has stagnated and ethnic and religious violence has escalated. This Asia Policy Brief critically assesses the reform policy and weighs up the chances of democratization of the long-time military regime..."
Author/creator: Marco Bünte
Language: English
Source/publisher: Bertelsmann Stiftung (Asia Policy Brief 2014 | 01)
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/cps/rde/xbcr/SID-25BF207D-4E4ACE5C/bst_engl/xcms_bst_dms_39245__2.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 March 2014


Title: Dearth of ideas in Myanmar transition
Date of publication: 13 December 2013
Description/subject: "On paper, few countries have had as good a year as Myanmar. It has seen the lifting of economic sanctions, the write-off of a substantial portion of the country's debts, strong levels of gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the winning the Association of Southeast Asia Nations' (ASEAN) chairmanship, the hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, and praise from almost every government, donor and economic institution in the world. This progress report is surprising considering that 2013 also brought evidence of the government's role in stoking religious hatred across the country, the number of internally displaced people resulting from civil conflict and land grabbing burgeoned, and the country continued to languish towards the bottom of almost every global economic and social index. The wheels of Myanmar's transition are in motion; progress is being made, but obstacles remain before the reform process realizes its potential. Few people have contested this narrative of progress - in a sense, the impossibility of being able to contest this is what makes it such an effective rhetorical device..."
Author/creator: David Baulk
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 May 2014


Title: Myanmar’s arms purchases are a problem
Date of publication: 11 December 2013
Description/subject: "It is very important for Burma watchers to have a clear understanding of the goals and interests of the Myanmar Government. Not having a clear understanding imperils the peace and democratization processes and also threatens to embolden radical elements within the regime. Such miscalculations threaten to facilitate further human rights violations and could easily lead to backsliding toward authoritarianism. With this in mind this short opinion piece argues first, that Burma is not part of the Southeast Asian trend in rearmament designed to balance against Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea, second, that Burma is seriously at risk of failing to democratize in a meaningful way and is seriously at risk of following in the path of a faux democracy like Cambodia and third, that policy goals of the Myanmar Government need to be seen in non-sensationalist terms that address issues of post-transition power and wealth sharing amongst the government and opposition groups..."
Author/creator: Jacob Sommer
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 July 2014


Title: Minerals, militants and Myanmar peace
Date of publication: 23 October 2013
Description/subject: "A recent spate of bombings in Myanmar was attributed by police to local mining businessmen intent on stopping foreign investment. These rogue commercial elements were seemingly worried of the impact on their business interests. The shadowy assaults, including a bomb that detonated in a room occupied by an American in the Traders Hotel, demonstrates just how complex the climate for investors is in Myanmar. It also reveals how opaque mining interests could derail the peace process underway between the government and armed rebels and jeopardize the country's democratic transition. Hype persists over Myanmar's resource wealth, with the country gearing up for new waves of investment and new mining laws predicted to shortly come into effect. A recent Asian Development Bank study noted that Myanmar could become Asia's next "rising star" if it can leverage its rich resource potential. However, regardless of much optimism, difficulties remain and if not addressed could unsettle the peace process. The most important issue for investors, but also populations living near resources, is the reform of legal and regulatory frameworks. The current uncertainty in these frameworks has undermined the investment climate. Similarly, land tenure must be defined and a sustainable agreement reached with armed ethnic groups for their greater inclusion into the democratic process. Greater transparency is also needed to boost confidence in local actors that remain entangled with military powerbrokers. If such a prudent approach is not achieved, resources could become more of a burden than a boon in the country's transformation..."
Author/creator: Elliot Brennan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 28 May 2014


Title: Adjusting to Myanmar’s reform mood
Date of publication: 01 October 2013
Description/subject: "How is the process of reform travelling in Myanmar? In some areas there is considerable transparency and it can be said that things are moving forward more or less satisfactorily. But in some other areas, such as decentralisation, we mostly are forced to speculate about the overall future trajectory of reform or political change: new structures are taking shape, but the process is “messy” and not very transparent. Overall, there seems to be a growing view that the 2010 election was only the start of political reform process, which is now increasingly seen as likely to be consolidated by the next 2015 election (which almost everyone assumes will take place according to schedule). In other words, popular opinion seems to be discounting the possibility of a military coup against the reform agenda that has been laid out, but is acknowledging that reforms are somewhat incomplete and imperfect.[18] Some domestic leaders in Myanmar are now urging a slightly more cautious approach to reform, as it is becoming increasingly obvious that achieving results will not be instantaneous and that complete reform may need to go through several iterations. Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann reportedly said during a tour of Shan State in early September 2013 that: “Myanmar needs to carefully consider the long-term impact of proposed reforms and ensure it does not make ‘reckless’ mistakes”.[19] Aung San Suu Kyi was also reported around the same time as urging countries who had applied sanctions not to be too optimistic about the prospects for reform in Myanmar.[20] There seems to be growing recognition that popular expectations are an important indicator of desirable policy directions and outcomes. This in itself suggests that “more of the same” is entirely feasible. However, ethnic groups are now insisting on scrapping the present constitution and drafting a completely new constitution. This option stands very little hope of success, and ethnic leaders are not really negotiating from a strong position. Aung San Suu Kyi has also been reported recently as urging a more radical approach on her September 2013 visit to Eastern Europe. Democracy activist Ko Ko Gyi quotes her as criticising Myanmar flawed political process and calling for constitutional change as soon as possible.[21] This position is somewhat surprising, and seems at odds with the closer relationship she has been developing with the Thein Sein Government since she entered parliament in 2012...."
Author/creator: Trevor Wilson
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 16 July 2014


Title: Burma’s Ethnic Challenge: From Aspirations to Solution
Date of publication: October 2013
Description/subject: Conclusion: "Ultimately, it must be for Burma’s peoples to decide their political future. As in previous times of change, the present landscape looks uncertain and complex. But for the first time in decades, the issues of peace, democracy and promises of ethnic equality agreed at Burma’s independence are back for national debate and attracting international attention. This marks an important change from the preceding years of conflict and malaise under military rule, and expectations are currently high. It is vital therefore that opportunities are not lost and that the present generation of leaders succeed in achieving peace and justice where others before them have failed. Realism and honesty about the tasks ahead are essential. Burma’s leaders and parties, on all sides of the political and ethnic spectrum, still have much to achieve.".....Recommendations: "To end the legacy of state failure, the present time of national transition must be used for inclusive solutions that involve all peoples of Burma. The most important changes in national politics have started in many decades. Now all sides have to halt military operations and engage in sociopolitical dialogue that includes government, military, ethnic, political and civil society representatives. Political agreements will be essential to achieve lasting peace, democracy and ethnic rights. National reconciliation and equality must be the common aim. The divisive tradition of different agreements and processes with different ethnic and political groups must end. In building peace and democracy, peoplecentred and pro-poor economic reforms are vital. Land-grabbing must halt, and development programmes should be appropriate, sustainable and undertaken with the consent of the local peoples. Humanitarian aid should be prioritized for the most needy and vulnerable communities and not become a source of political advantage or division. As peace develops, internally displaced persons and refugees must be supported to return to their places of origin and to rebuild divided societies in the ethnic borderlands. The international community must play a neutral and supportive role in the achievement of peace and democracy. National reform is at an early stage, and it is vital that ill-planned strategies or investments do not perpetuate political failures and ethnic injustice."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI), Burma Centrum Nederland
Format/size: pdf (1.13MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs16/TNI-Burma%92s_Ethnic_Challenge-From_Aspirations_to_Solution-en.pdf
Date of entry/update: 07 December 2013


Title: Burma and the Road Forward: Lessons from Next Door and Possible Avenues Towards Constitutional and Democratic Development
Date of publication: 25 July 2013
Description/subject: "The chapter of authoritarian rule may finally be ending in Burma’s complicated narrative. The Burmese government has taken visible steps towards democratic reform. Despite reports of military control and intimidation at the polls,the country transitioned to civilian rule in 20103 after fifty years of control by a military junta. The government also released the country’s preeminent democratic leader and icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been on house arrest sporadically since 1989. Rapid political reforms soon followed. The ability to reconcile Burma’s political history and transition to a democracy will be a challenging one. A successful transformation requires more than legal formalism; legal formalism cannot work without the development of a civil society. However, legal formalism, as Suu Kyi has urged, ensures a rule of law that will allow Burmese citizens, including minority groups, to protect themselves from their government’s historical abuse of power. This Comment discusses how the expansion of legal rights for individuals and minorities is the direct way for Burma to secure a democratic future..."
Author/creator: Connie Ng
Language: English
Source/publisher: Santa Clara Law Review (Vol 53, No. 1)
Format/size: pdf (198K)
Date of entry/update: 21 August 2014


Title: Rain for Myanmar's peace parade
Date of publication: 25 June 2013
Description/subject: "A grand ceremony is expected to be held next month in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw, where a nationwide ceasefire with various ethnic resistance armies will be announced to an audience of United Nations representatives and other foreign dignitaries. Ten of Myanmar's 11 major ethnic rebel groups who have signed individual ceasefire agreements with the government will be highlighted at the high-profile event. The one main rebel outlier, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has not yet reached a ceasefire agreement. The most recent round of talks between KIA and government representatives in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina held between May 28-30 failed to yield the deal government authorities anticipated. The two sides agreed only to a seven-point agreement stating that "the parties undertake efforts to achieve de-escalation and cessation of hostilities" and "to hold a political dialogue" - though no firm commitment was made concerning when such talks would commence..."
Author/creator: Bertil Lintner
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 May 2014


Title: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return
Date of publication: 02 June 2013
Description/subject: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return: Preliminary Recommendations to the Government of Myanmar, Ethnic Actors and the International Community.....Executive Summary: "Of the many challenging issues that will require resolution within the peace processes currently underway between the government of Myanmar and various ethnic groups in the country, few will be as complex, sensitive and yet vital than the issues comprising housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Viewed in terms of the rights of the sizable internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee populations who will be affected by the eventual peace agreements, and within the broader political reform process, HLP rights will need to form a key part of all of the ongoing moves to secure a sustainable peace, and be a key ingredient within all activities dedicated to ending displacement in Myanmar today. The Government Myanmar (including the military) and its various ethnic negotiating partners – just as with all countries that have undergone deep political transition in recent decades, including those emerging from lengthy conflicts – need to fully appreciate and comprehend the nature and scale of the HLP issues that have emerged in past decades, how these have affected and continue to affect the rights and perspectives of justice of those concerned, and the measures that will be required to remedy HLP concerns in a fair and equitable manner that strengthens the foundations for permanent peace. Resolving forced displacement and the arbitrary acquisition and occupation of land, addressing the HLP and other human rights of returning refugees and IDPs in areas of return, ensuring livelihood and other economic opportunities and a range of other measures will be required if return is be sustainable and imbued with a sense of justice. There is an acute awareness among all of those involved in the ongoing peace processes of the centrality of HLP issues within the context of sustainable peace, however, all too little progress has thus far been made to address these issues in any detail, nor have practical plans commenced to resolve ongoing displacement of either refugees or IDPs. Indeed, the negotiating positions of both sides on key HLP issues differ sharply and will need to be bridged; many difficult decisions remain to be made..."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Alternate URLs: http://displacementsolutions.org
http://displacementsolutions.org/landmark-report-launch-bridging-the-housing-land-and-property-gap-in-myanmar/
Date of entry/update: 17 June 2013


Title: Mapping of Myanmar Peacebuilding Civil Society
Date of publication: 07 March 2013
Description/subject: This paper was prepared in the framework of the Civil Society Dialogue Network (CSDN) http://www.eplo.org/civil-society-dialogue-network.html The paper was produced as background for the CSDN meeting entitled ‘Supporting Myanmar’s Evolving Peace Processes: What Roles for Civil Society and the EU?’ which took place in Brussels on 7 March 2013...."The peace process currently underway in Myanmar represents the best opportunity in half a century to resolve ethnic and state-society conflicts. The most significant challenges facing the peace process are: to initiate substantial political dialogue between the government and NSAGs (broaden the peace process); to include participation of civil society and affected communities (deepen the peace process); to demonstrate the Myanmar Army’s willingness to support the peace agenda. Communities in many parts of the country are already experiencing benefits, particularly in terms of freedom of movement and reduction in more serious human rights abuses. Nevertheless, communities have serious concerns regarding the peace process, including in the incursion of business interests (e.g. natural resource extraction projects) into previously inaccessible, conflict-affected areas. Concerns also relate to the exclusion thus far of most local actors from meaningful participation in the peace process. Indeed, many civil society actors and political parties express growing resentment at being excluded from the peace process..."
Author/creator: Charles Petrie, Ashley South
Language: English
Source/publisher: Civil Society Dialogue Network
Format/size: pdf (266K)
Alternate URLs: http://eplo.org/geographic-meetings.html (This EPLO page has links to related studies and papers)
Date of entry/update: 16 April 2013


Title: Prospects for Peace in Myanmar: Opportunities and Threats
Date of publication: 12 December 2012
Description/subject: ABSTRACT: "This paper examines the peace process in Myanmar from the perspectives of the Myanmar government and Army, and non-state armed groups, as well as ethnic nationality political and civil society actors and conflict affected communities. It argues that this is the best opportunity to resolve ethnic conflicts in the country since the military coup of 1962. However, the peace process will not ultimately succeed unless the government demonstrates a commitment to engage on the political issues which have long structured armed conflicts in Myanmar, and can also bring fighting to an end in Kachin and Shan States. On the political front, important progress was made in October-November 2012 in the relationship between government peace envoys and non-state armed groups. The government seems committed to political talks, although it is not yet clear how and when these will begin in earnest. In some ways, it will be easier for the government to initiate political talks with opposition groups, than to ensure that the Myanmar Army follows the peace agenda. Recent negotiations with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) have made little progress, resulting in a worrying continuation of armed conflict in northern Myanmar. This paper sketches different - sometimes contested - positions regarding the peace process in Myanmar, on the part of different ethnic actors, and analyses their strategies. It goes on to describe and discuss some of the winners and losers in the peace process. The paper argues that, in order to build a sustainable and deep-rooted peace process, it is necessary to involve conflict-affected communities and civil society organisations and above-ground ethnic political parties; it is also necessary to re-imagine peace and conflict in Myanmar as issues affecting the whole of society, including the Burman majority. The paper concludes by sketching a ‘framework agreement’, by which the government and representatives of minority communities could move onto a substantial political discourse.".....CONTENTS: 1. Abstract; 2. Introduction; 3. Key Challenges; 4. Background; 5. 2012: Prospects for Peace; 6. The Myanmar Government and Army; 7. Ethnic Actors; 8. Potential Spoilers; 9. Supporting the Peace Process, Doing No Harm; 10. Ways Forward; 11. References; 12. List of Non State Armed Groups (NSAGs)
Author/creator: Ashley South
Language: English
Source/publisher: Peace Reserch Institute, Oslo (PRIO)
Format/size: pdf (706K)
Date of entry/update: 12 December 2012


Title: Military minefields blocking transition to democracy
Date of publication: 09 December 2012
Description/subject: "Protests such as those against the Latpadaung copper mine are putting a spotlight on powerful conglomerates run by former generals who have traded their uniforms for business suits and are accused of carving up the country's natural wealth with China...The term ''irreversible transformation'' is popular these days with Myanmar's former military generals who use it at international roadshows, but as the Latpadaung copper mine unrest shows, the transformation may be largely superficial. When protests at the mine led by monks and local activists were brutally broken up by the government late last month, injuring more than 50 protesters, it was stark proof of military's lingering dominance. The unrest also highlights concerns over political and economic ties between the Myanmar military and the Chinese government. The Latpadaung copper mine project is a joint venture between the Chinese-owned Wanbao Mining Company and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Company (UMEH), which not coincidentally is run by former military officers..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Bangkok Post" (Spectrum)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 December 2012


Title: Myanmar Facing Unfolding Crisis ,
Date of publication: 17 November 2012
Description/subject: "... The violence in Rakhine State represents a major test for the government as it seeks to maintain law and order without rekindling memories of the recent authoritarian past. It also represents a challenge for Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy to demonstrate a greater commitment, publicly and privately, to the fundamental rights of all those who live in Myanmar. Above all, both government and opposition need to show moral leadership to calm the tensions and work for durable solutions to a problem that could threaten Myanmar’s reform process and the stability of the country."
Author/creator: Louise Arbour
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (ICG)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 November 2012


Title: MYANMAR: STORM CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON (English; Burmese Executive Summary)
Date of publication: 12 November 2012
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Myanmar’s leaders continue to demonstrate that they have the political will and the vision to move the country decisively away from its authoritarian past, but the road to democracy is proving hard. President Thein Sein has declared the changes irreversible and worked to build a durable partnership with the opposition. While the process remains incomplete, political prisoners have been released, blacklists trimmed, freedom of assembly laws implemented, and media censorship abolished. But widespread ethnic violence in Rakhine State, targeting principally the Rohingya Muslim minority, has cast a dark cloud over the reform process and any further rupturing of intercommunal relations could threaten national stability. Elsewhere, social tensions are rising as more freedom allows local conflicts to resurface. A ceasefire in Kachin State remains elusive. Political leaders have conflicting views about how power should be shared under the constitution as well as after the 2015 election. Moral leadership is required now to calm tensions and new compromises will be needed if divisive confrontation is to be avoided...The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern, and there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface. The difficulty in reaching a ceasefire in Kachin State underlines the complexity of forging a sustainable peace with ethnic armed groups. There are also rising grassroots tensions over land grabbing and abuses by local authorities, and environmental and social concerns over foreign-backed infrastructure and mining projects...A key factor in determining the success of Myanmar’s transition will be macro-political stability. In 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) will compete for seats across the country for the first time since the abortive 1990 elections. Assuming these polls are free and fair, they will herald a radical shift in the balance of power away from the old dispensation. But an NLD landslide may not be in the best interests of the party or the country, as it would risk marginalising three important constituencies: the old political elite, the ethnic political parties and the non-NLD democratic forces. If the post-2015 legislatures fail to represent the true political and ethnic diversity of the country, tensions are likely to increase and fuel instability. The main challenge the NLD faces is not to win the election, but to promote inclusiveness and reconciliation. It has a number of options to achieve this. It could support a more proportional election system that would create more representative legislatures, by removing the current “winner- takes-all” distortion. Alternatively, it could form an alliance with other parties, particularly ethnic parties, agreeing not to compete against them in certain constituencies. Finally, it could support an interim “national unity” candidate for the post-2015 presidency. This would reassure the old guard, easing the transition to an NLD-dominated political system..."
Language: English, Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ (exec. Sum)
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (Asia Report N°238)
Format/size: pdf (454K-OBL version; 2.73MB-original); Exec Sum in Burmese (166K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/Burmese/238-myanmar-storm-clouds-on-the-horizon-burmese-exec-sum.ashx - Executive Summary in Burmese
http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/238-myanmar-storm-clouds-on-the-horizon.pdf
Date of entry/update: 12 November 2012


Title: What next for Myanmar’s reforms?
Date of publication: 19 October 2012
Description/subject: "Earlier in the year I wrote a report for New York-based Freedom House on Myanmar as a “country at the crossroads“. My analysis is available here. It is divided into sections such as Accountability and Public Voice, Civil Liberties, and Rule of Law. The goal of such reports is to provide an opportunity for meaningful comparisons between countries, and over time. The standard format of these reports also includes a section for recommendations to the government in question. I think these are worth reproducing in the interest of opening up a discussion about exactly what further reforms Myanmar requires. Please bear in mind that they were written early in 2012. What I suggested was: The government of Burma has embarked on a political transition that has been welcomed by the Burmese people. To reinforce recent positive moves and generate confidence that progress toward democratic governance is irreversible, the government should: Implement an immediate release of all remaining prisoners of conscience and disavow any future incarcerations for political crimes. Encourage the plurality of public opinion by abolishing the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division and resisting the temptation to create a new body for coercive media regulation. Declare a unilateral ceasefire in the civil war with the Kachin Independence Army, demonstrating goodwill and encouraging the Kachin leadership to begin negotiations for a final peace treaty. Implement a truth and reconciliation process to account for human rights abuses committed by current and former members of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, and intelligence services during the years of military rule. Of course, while the report was in press number two on this list eventuated. The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division is gone and time will tell whether the authorities resist the temptation to re-institute its draconian controls. At this stage it’s unclear, at least to me, exactly how much appetite remains for immediate moves on the other three. Perhaps some of these are still achievable in the short-term. What do you think? I have heard it said that the key issue for Myanmar’s reforms is getting the sequencing right. So what do you think the Myanmar government should do next?"
Author/creator: Nicholas Farrelly
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2014


Title: NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD: BURMA’S FACADE OF REFORM
Date of publication: October 2012
Description/subject: "When President Thein Sein took office on 30 March 2011, Burma ranked near the bottom of virtually all international indexes that measured adherence to civil and political rights, press freedom, corruption, and economic freedom. With a baseline so low, Thein Sein was able to undertake a series of initiatives that gave the appearance of reform but which, in fact, brought very limited benefits for the overwhelming majority of Burmese people. Thein Sein’s failure to stop human rights violations and to initiate fundamental legislative and institutional reforms effectively blocks Burma’s progress towards genuine democracy and national reconciliation. The regime has so far failed to meet the minimum benchmarks that the UN established to measure Burma’s progress toward democratization, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights. It is time for the international community to shape their policies vis-à-vis Burma based on the regime’s concrete progress (or lack thereof) towards implementing genuine reforms, without being swayed by Naypyidaw’s well-orchestrated public relations campaign. Truly democratic reforms must focus on halting impunity and implementing measures to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations. They must include: the unconditional release of ALL political prisoners; amendments to the 2008 constitution and laws not in line with international standards; the end of all military offensives in ethnic areas as well as the holding of time-bound genuine political dialogue with ethnic armed groups; and tangible steps towards the respect and promotion of human rights."
Language: English
Source/publisher: ALTSEAN-Burma (Issues & Concerns Vol. 8):
Format/size: pdf (604K)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2012


Title: Myanmar reshuffle: the reform agenda
Date of publication: 22 September 2012
Description/subject: "President Thein Sein reshuffled his cabinet on 27 August 2012, for the first time since the installation of his government on 30 March 2011. Speculation about an imminent cabinet reshuffle had been heard for some months; the fact that it took so long to accomplish might indicate some lingering vulnerability in Thein Sein’s position, although on the surface the outcome has strengthened his personal authority, reinforced the government’s reformist impulses, and sidelined the last conservative elements among his ministers. Thein Sein has brought key ministers overseeing his reform initiatives into his own office, as ministers without portfolio: notably Investment Commission Chair, Soe Thein, who has become the leading advocate of micro-economic policy reform; former Railways Minister, Aung Min, who has assumed responsibility for negotiating peace agreements with several ethnic groups (including the Karen National Union); and the ministers formerly in charge of Finance and National Development..."
Author/creator: Trevor Wilson
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2014


Title: Thein Sein shuffles to restart reform
Date of publication: 30 August 2012
Description/subject: "A cabinet reshuffle in Myanmar aims to put President Thein Sein's increasingly stalled reform process back on track. The highly anticipated shake-up, announced on Monday, will empower reformers at the expense of hardliners and could provide new impetus behind the president's stated policy priorities of national reconciliation and economic development. Nine cabinet ministers were replaced and 16 new deputy ministers appointed in the biggest personnel overhaul of government since Thein Sein assumed power last year and embarked on his ambitious and widely lauded political and economic reform program. Those reforms have included the release of hundreds of political prisoners, a loosening of press censorship and allowances for pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi to win a seat in parliament. The cabinet reshuffle replaced the ministers responsible for information, economic planning, development, finance, industry and railways, all significant and powerful positions. These ministries' authority will be transferred directly to the president's office as part of the reshuffle. Thein Sein earlier this month appointed Admiral Nyan Tun as one of two vice presidents, considered a largely ceremonial post, replacing Tin Aung Myint Oo, who retired reportedly due to ill health..."
Author/creator: Larry Jagan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 31 August 2012


Title: New reform balance in Myanmar
Date of publication: 17 August 2012
Description/subject: "After a drawn-out selection process, Myanmar's military parliamentarians have appointed Admiral Nyan Tun as the country's new vice president, a choice that may help to consolidate President Thein Sein's position and signal a shift in the military's position on his ambitious reform agenda. The highly anticipated appointment came after the disqualification of the previous frontrunner, Myint Swe, a perceived hardliner aligned with the previous junta's senior leaders, and amid widespread speculation about whether the next vice president would strengthen or weaken the hand of reformers in government..."
Author/creator: Brian McCartan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 15 September 2012


Title: MYANMAR: THE POLITICS OF ECONOMIC REFORM
Date of publication: 27 July 2012
Description/subject: Conclusion: "Along with sweeping political reforms, Myanmar has embarked on an ambitious program of economic changes, aimed at rebuilding its moribund economy and integrating it with the global system. It has begun a managed float of the currency, and is dismantling the old system of monopolies and privileged access to licenses, permits and contracts. These changes will have a big impact on the entrenched economic elite – crony businessmen, the military and former political heavyweights linked to the government party – who will have to compete on a more level playing field and even start paying tax. Given their wealth or political influence, these interests might have been powerful spoilers, but there are no indications that they are attempting to derail the economic reforms. They know which way the winds are blowing and appear to have accepted the inevitability of the changes. They are aware that the political risks of challenging the reforms would outweigh the likely benefits and see that they may be well-positioned to benefit from a vibrant and growing economy, even if their share of it is reduced. To this end, the business elite have embarked on efforts to reposition and rebrand themselves. The military recognises that its sprawling business interests, if they continue to be inefficiently run, could become a drain on its budget rather than a supplement to it. Yet, the path of economic reconstruction will not be smooth or straightforward. To achieve President Thein Sein’s objective of broad-based and equitable growth, well-crafted and effectively implemented policies are also required. With so much to be changed, and limited capacity at both the policy-formulation and policy-implementation levels, there is a risk that the administration will be overwhelmed. Beyond this, success in such an endeavour depends on ensuring macroeconomic and political stability. Unanticipated economic shocks, social unrest or political uncertainty in the lead-up to the next elections in 2015 all represent potential risks to that stability. But if it is able to manage this complex process, Myanmar has the possibility to finally realise its enormous economic potential, catching up with its neighbours while avoiding some of their mistakes."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (Asia Report N°231)
Format/size: pdf (541K-OBL version; 3.15MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/231-myanmar-the-politics-of-economic-reform.pdf
Date of entry/update: 27 July 2012


Title: Build Burma from the Ground Up
Date of publication: 22 June 2012
Description/subject: Relying only on the state to implement democratic reforms in Burma is a fool’s errand. But there’s a better way... "Burma has entered a new period of political evolution. It's a process rife with opportunity, to be sure. But perhaps this is also a good time to consider the risks. Defining a political path as "democratization" does not necessarily ensure that it will be democratic. In today's Burma there is a distinct possibility that political elites -- in league with outside experts or capitalists --- will push ahead with reforms while ignoring the interests or ideas of average people, leaving many sections of the population even worse off than under tyranny. Such an approach must be contested. The voices of average Burmese must be incorporated into the decisions that will govern their future...a remarkably robust and powerful set of citizens, self-organized into groups outside of the state, has performed the necessary heavy lifting that has enabled society's survival under a capricious and abusive military government. Many observers may have missed this because these groups have always flown under the radar. Their genius under the regime was to deliver services, subvert abusive policies, and mobilize local resources, all the while steering clear of anything that could be construed as politically threatening. Simply put, they learned to beg -- and beg quietly -- for permission to do the job the state should have been doing..."
Author/creator: Elliott Prasse-Freeman
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Foreign Policy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 June 2012


Title: Myanmar: The slow road to democracy
Date of publication: 22 June 2012
Description/subject: While Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom marks a step towards normality, the fallout from ethnic conflict remains
Author/creator: Donna Jean Guest
Language: English
Source/publisher: Al Jazeera
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 June 2012


Title: Changing the unchangeable: the role of dialogue in transition - Panel debate with Aung San Suu Kyi, Jonas Gahr and Bono (video)
Date of publication: 18 June 2012
Description/subject: "Aung San Suu Kyi and Bono joined Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre this week to discuss the role of dialogue in countries in transition during the tenth Oslo forum retreat of conflict mediators... Minister Støre opened the panel discussion. Drawing on the examples of peace actors from Nelson Mandela to Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister Støre underlined that “dialogue is the strategy of the brave”. Aung San Suu Kyi and Bono highlighted the importance of dialogue and of maintaining a genuine desire to find “common ground” to ensure that transitions moved in a positive direction. In reflecting on her own experiences, Ms San Suu Kyi emphasised that “the best way to bring about change is through non-violent peaceful means, through establishing a tradition of dialogue and consensus”. “The wounds that are opened up by violent conflict take a long time to heal,” she said, “and while the peaceful way might take longer, in the end there are fewer wounds to be healed.” Bono also reflected on key turning points during Northern Ireland's troubles and the importance of dialogue in that context. The opening plenary marked the beginning of two days of frank discussions – from 18 to 19 June 2012 - around the theme of this year’s forum: ‘Negotiating Through Transition’. The forum, the 10th in the series, brought together more than 100 peacemakers and mediators, who discussed a range of issues including: Afghanistan and the influence of its neighbours in shaping its future; the growing concerns around the situation in Sahel; challenges to the two-state solution in the Israel/Arab peace process; the Arab Spring ‘second wave’, in particular the role of mediation in Syria and Yemen and the internal dynamics of negotiating transitions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia; recent developments in the Philippines; and reform and peacemaking in Myanmar..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Oslo Forum (Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Norwegian Foreign Ministry)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (1 hour 3 minutes)
Alternate URLs: http://www.prnewschannel.com/2012/06/20/aung-san-suu-kyi-meets-bono-at-the-oslo-forum/
http://www.hdcentre.org/press
Date of entry/update: 20 June 2012


Title: Burma at the Crossroads - Maintaining the Momentum for Reform
Date of publication: June 2012
Description/subject: Conclusions and Recommendations: "* After decades of division in national politics, the recent steps towards reconciliation and democratic reform by the Thein Sein government are welcome. The participation of the National League for Democracy in the April by-elections, new ceasefires with armed ethnic opposition groups and prioritization of economic reforms are all initiatives that can contribute to the establishment of peace and democracy. * The momentum for reform must now continue. Remaining political prisoners must be released; a sustainable ceasefire achieved with the Kachin Independence Organisation and other armed opposition groups; and the provision of humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons and other vulnerable peoples needs to be accelerated. * The 2015 general election is likely to mark the next major milestone in national politics. In the meantime, it is vital that processes are established by which political reform and ethnic peace can be inclusively developed. Burma is at the beginning of change – not at the end. * The international community should support policies that encourage reconciliation and reform, and which do not cause new divisions. Burma’s needs are many, but local and national organisations are ready to respond. Aid priority should be given to health, education, poverty alleviation, displaced persons and other humanitarian concerns."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute, Burma Centrum Nederland (Burma Policy Briefing Nr 9)
Format/size: pdf (279K-OBL version; 496K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/bpb9.pdf
Date of entry/update: 06 June 2012


Title: Mae Tao Clinic Briefing on the Current Reforms in Burma May 2012
Date of publication: 22 May 2012
Description/subject: Mae Tao Clinic Position on the Current Political Situation...Mae Tao Clinic's Role During the Transition Period...Recommendations to the Burmese Government and Other Actors Engaged in Local and National Dialogue...Mae Tao Clinic's Recommendations to the International Community.....Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) is cautiously optimistic about the positive developments made by the Burmese government in the past year. While the political reforms and tentative ceasefire agreements bring a degree of hope, the chronic humanitarian crisis facing the ethnic displaced and rural populations has yet to be addressed. The following points demonstrate that the recent political changes have yet to deliver positive change in the economic, political, social and health status of disadvantaged ethnic groups assisted by MTC: 1. The patient caseload at MTC continues to rise despite euphoria over the reforms; MTC still experienced a 5% increase between 2010 and 2011, receiving almost 117,000 cases last year. One sign of genuine commitment by the Burmese government not only to positive political reform, but also to advance the welfare of the entire population, would be a substantial decrease in patient numbers at MTC and an equivalent rise at the nearby government-run hospital across the border in Myawaddy, Burma. This has yet to happen; Myawaddy Hospital continues to refer cases to Thailand due to their poor facilities. Last year over 3,000 babies were born at MTC, in comparison to the 1,200 born at Myawaddy Hospital. Furthermore, MTC continues to receive patients from Burma with malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, despite the fact that government hospitals, such as that at Myawaddy, are supposed to have specific programmes to treat these conditions. Until we see more patients opting for treatment at government facilities, we cannot yet assert that the political developments are enabling better access to quality, affordable public services. It will take much time and investment to strengthen the healthcare system, particularly in ethnic areas, after decades of neglect by the Burmese government. 2. There has also been a 30% increase between 2010 and 2011 in the number of unaccompanied children supported by MTC who have crossed the border to seek protection and education in Thailand. MTC now supports almost 3,000 displaced children, many of whom have been sent to Thailand to escape conflict and the risk of being recruited as child soldiers or child labourers. A lack of opportunity to access education beyond primary level, as well as a lack of means for families to pay for education also remain key push factors. May 2012 1 P.O. Box 67, Mae Sot, Tak 63110, Thailand. 865 Moo 1, Intarakiri Rd., Tha Sai Luad, Mae Sot, Tak Province 63110 Fax: (055) 544-655, email: info@maetaoclinic.org Despite recent political dialogue, the situation for ethnic and rural children remains poor in Burma and no decrease in enrollment rates at migrant schools is anticipated for the upcoming academic year..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Mao Tao Clinic
Format/size: pdf (242K)
Alternate URLs: http://maetaoclinic.org
Date of entry/update: 29 May 2012


Title: A capitalist class emerges in Myanmar
Date of publication: 17 May 2012
Description/subject: "Myanmar has a widely underestimated array of home-grown business families who are likely to provide the foundation of the country's future capitalist class - and a bulwark against any attack on the core privileges of the military-linked elite. In the excitement over the opening of the "biggest emerging market opportunity since China", commentaries have portrayed Myanmar in words and images akin to those used in describing America's 19th century Wild West. The Economist Intelligence Unit recently espied "vast untapped natural resources and land". The International Monetary Fund Dilbert says the country could be "the next economic frontier in Asia". Local pundits agree: "Myanmar is the last resourceful investment destination in the Southeast Asian region," said Thinn Htut Thidar, a Yangon-based consultant. There is undoubtedly truth in these words but they overlook the local tycoons, often disparaged as cronies of the regime, as well as myriad lesser entrepreneurs, whose businesses fill out the space left by the military's own large economic presence..."
Author/creator: William Barnes
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html, pdf (76K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs13/A_capitalist_class_emerges_in_Burma.pdf
Date of entry/update: 16 May 2012


Title: One Year of Myanmar’s Thein Sein Government: Background and Outlook of Reforms
Date of publication: 07 May 2012
Description/subject: Myanmar Column by PDFpdf(133KB) May, 2012 In November 2010, Myanmar held its first general election in 20 years. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won a landslide victory and established a ‘new’ ‘civilian’ government the following March, demilitarizing the government for the first time in 23 years. However, headed by President Thein Sein, former prime minister of the military government, the USDP government effectively began as an extension of military rule, with little prospects for democratization and economic reforms. But in a sudden wave of reforms that began around August, the new government held talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, deregulated the media, freed many political prisoners and halted the country’s controversial large Chinese-led hydro-power project. The striking developments that followed included Myanmar’s appointment to chair ASEAN in 2014, improved relations with the US, the reinstatement of major opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD), and Aung San Suu Kyi’s candidacy in the by-election held on April 1, 2012. The NLD won a landslide 43 out of 45 seats in parliaments in the election. While this overwhelming victory is largely an indicator of Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity, it also reflects the Thein Sein government’s reforms.
Author/creator: Toshihiro KUDO
Language: English
Source/publisher: IDE-JETRO
Format/size: pdf (133K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Research/Region/Asia/201204_kudo.html
Date of entry/update: 01 December 2012


Title: Reform in Myanmar: One Year On (English)
Date of publication: 11 April 2012
Description/subject: CONCLUSION: "One year after the new Myanmar government took office, a remarkably rapid transition is underway. The president has made clear that he intends to do much more to acceler-ate democratic reform, rebuild the economy, promote ethnic peace, improve rule of law and heal the bitter wounds of the past. By-elections held on 1 April were relatively free and fair, and the opposition National League for Democ-racy won a landslide victory, taking 43 of the 45 seats be-ing contested. Aung San Suu Kyi won her seat with a large majority. Although these results will not alter the balance of power in the legislature, they make the NLD the larg-est opposition party and give it a powerful mandate as the voice of popular opinion within the legislatures. There is a broad consensus among the political elite on the need for fundamental reform. This makes the risk of a reversal relatively low. However, the reform process faces several challenges, including a lack of technical and insti-tutional capacity to formulate policy and implement deci-sions; rebuilding a moribund economy and meeting rising expectations for tangible improvements in living stand-ards; and consolidating peace in ethnic areas. The NLD electoral landslide, which came at the expense of the gov-ernment-backed USDP, can add further momentum to the reforms but may also alarm many in the political estab-lishment. This could expose the president to greater inter-nal criticism and stiffen resistance to further democratic reform. The international community has an important role to play in supporting reform. In addition to providing technical advice and assistance, political support for the reform ef-fort is also crucial. Myanmar has turned away from five decades of authoritarianism and has embarked on a bold process of political, social and economic reform. Those in the West who have long called for such changes must now do all they can to support them. The most important step is to lift the sanctions on Myanmar without delay. Failing to do so would strengthen the hand of more conservative el-ements in the country and undermine those who are driving the process of change."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (ICG) - Asia Briefing N°136
Format/size: pdf (English-605K - OBL version; 1.05MB - original; Burmese-723K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/b136-reform-in-myanmar-one-year-on.pdf
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs13/ICG-Reform-in-myanmar-one-year-on-bu-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 11 April 2012


Title: Reform in Myanmar: One Year On .... ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံမွ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ တစ္ႏွစ္ျပည့္ခ်ိန္ (Burmese)
Date of publication: 11 April 2012
Description/subject: အဆံုးသတ္ေကာက္ခ်က္ျမန္မာအစိုးရသစ္ အာဏာရယူၿပီး တစ္ႏွစ္အၾကာတြင္ သတိထား မိေလာက္ေအာင္ ျမန္ဆန္ေသာ အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းမႈ စတင္ျဖစ္ေပၚ ေနၿပီျဖစ္သည္။ သမၼတကလည္း ဒီမိုကေရစီ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲမႈကို အ႐ွိန္ျမႇင့္ရန္၊ စီးပြားေရး ျပန္လည္တည္ေဆာက္ရန္၊ တုိင္းရင္းသား ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး အစီအစဥ္ကို အားေပးျမႇင့္တင္ရန္၊ တရားေသာ ဥပေဒစိုးမိုးမႈ တိုးတက္ ေစရန္ႏွင့္ အတိတ္က ခါးသီးေသာ ဒဏ္ရာ ဒဏ္ခ်က္မ်ား အနာက်က္ေစရန္ အတြက္ မ်ားစြာ ပိုမို လုပ္ေဆာင္သြားရန္ ရည္႐ြယ္ထားေၾကာင္း ႐ွင္း႐ွင္းလင္းလင္း အသိေပးထားသည္။ ဧၿပီ ၁ရက္တြင္ က်င္းပခဲ့ေသာ ၾကားျဖတ္ေ႐ြးေကာက္ပြဲမ်ားသည္ သိသိသာသာ လြတ္လပ္၊ မွ်တမႈ႐ွိခဲ့ၿပီး အတိုက္အခံ NLD ပါတီ အျပတ္အသတ္ အႏုိင္ရ႐ွိကာ၊ က်င္းပေနရာ ၄၅ ေနရာ အနက္ ၄၃ ေနရာ အႏုိင္ရ႐ွိခဲ့သည္။ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္သည္လည္း သူမ၏ မဲဆႏၵနယ္တြင္ မဲအမ်ားစု အသာျဖင့္ အႏုိင္ရ႐ွိသည္။ အဆိုပါ ရလဒ္မ်ားသည္ လႊတ္ေတာ္အတြင္းမွ ၾသဇာအာဏာ ဟန္ခ်က္ကို ေျပာင္းလဲေစမည္ မဟုတ္ေသာ္လည္း NLD ပါတီကို အင္အားအႀကီးဆံုး အတိုက္အခံ ပါတီ ျဖစ္လာေစၿပီး လႊတ္ေတာ္တြင္း၌ လူထုအႀကိဳက္ အယူအဆကို ေျပာေရးဆိုခြင့္ ႐ွိေသာ ပါတီအျဖစ္ အင္အားႀကီး အခြင့္အာဏာကို ရ႐ွိေစသည္။ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ၌ အေျခခံက်က် ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲရန္ လိုအပ္ေနျခင္းကို ႏုိင္ငံေရးအာဏာရ အလႊာ အၾကား က်ယ္က်ယ္ျပန္႔ျပန္႔ သေဘာတူညီမႈ ရ႐ွိထားသည္။ ထို႔အတြက္ေၾကာင့္ ေနာက္ျပန္ဆုတ္မည့္ အႏၲရာယ္ကို သိသိသာသာ အားနည္း သြားေစသည္။ သို႔ေသာ္ျငားလည္း ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ အေနျဖင့္ မူဝါဒ ေရးဆြဲမႈႏွင့္ ဆံုးျဖတ္ခ်က္ အေကာင္အထည္ေဖာ္မႈတြင္ နည္းပညာဆုိင္ရာ၊ အင္စတီက်ဴး႐ွင္းဆိုင္ရာ စြမ္းေဆာင္ရည္ ခ်ိဳ႕တဲ့ေနျခင္း၊ လူေနမႈ အဆင့္ သိသိသာသာ တိုးတက္လိုသည့္ ေမွ်ာ္လင့္ခ်က္မ်ား ႀကီးထြားလာျခင္းကို လိုက္မီေအာင္ ျဖည့္ဆည္းရျခင္းႏွင့္ ခၽြတ္ၿခံဳက် စီးပြားေရးကို ျပန္လည္ တည္ေဆာက္ရျခင္း၊ တိုင္းရင္းသားေဒသမ်ားတြင္ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး ခိုင္မာေအာင္တည္ေဆာက္ရျခင္း စသည္တို႔ အပါအဝင္ စိန္ေခၚမႈ ေျမာက္မ်ားစြာႏွင့္ ရင္ဆိုင္ေနရသည္။ ၾကားျဖတ္ေ႐ြးေကာက္ပြဲမွ NLD ပါတီ၏ ေအာင္ပြဲသည္ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲမႈကို ထပ္မံ၍ အ႐ွိန္တင္ ေပးႏုိင္ေသာ္လည္း၊ ျပည္ခုိင္ၿဖိဳးပါတီ၏ ႐ႈံးနိမ့္မႈေၾကာင့္ ႏုိင္ငံေရးအာဏာရ အသိုင္းအဝိုင္းထဲမွ ပုဂၢိဳလ္မ်ားစြာကို တပ္လွန္႔လိုက္သလို ျဖစ္သြားႏိုင္ပါသည္။ ဤအခ်က္ေၾကာင့္ သမၼတအား ပါတီတြင္း ျပင္းထန္စြာ ေဝဖန္မႈ ျဖစ္ေပၚႏုိင္ၿပီး၊ ဒီမိုကေရစီ ဆက္လက္ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲျခင္း အေပၚ ခုခံျငင္းဆန္မႈ ပိုမို မာေၾကာလာႏုိင္သည္။ ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အသိုင္းအဝိုင္း သည္ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ ၏ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲမႈကို ေထာက္ခံ အားေပးရာတြင္ အေရးႀကီးေသာ က႑မွ ပါဝင္ေနသည္။ ဤေနရာတြင္ နည္းပညာ အႀကံဥာဏ္ႏွင့္ အကူအညီေပးျခင္းအျပင္ အစိုးရ၏ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး ႀကိဳးပမ္းမႈ ကို ႏုိင္ငံေရးအရ အားေပးေထာက္ခံရန္ လိုအပ္ သည္။ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံ သည္ ႏွစ္ေပါင္း ၅၀ အာဏာ႐ွင္အုပ္ခ်ဳပ္မႈ စနစ္ ႏွင့္ လမ္းခြဲကာ ႏုိင္ငံေရး၊ လူမႈေရး၊ စီးပြားေရး ႀကီးႀကီးမားမား ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲမႈ လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ကို စတင္လ်က္႐ွိသည္။ ယင္းကဲ့သို႔ အေျပာင္းအလဲမ်ားကို အစဥ္တစုိက္ ေတာင္းဆိုခဲ့ေသာ အေနာက္အုပ္စု အေနျဖင့္ ယခုအခ်ိန္တြင္ သူတို႔တတ္ႏုိင္သမွ် အရာအားလံုးကို ကူညီပံ့ပိုး ၾကရလိမ့္မည္။ အေရးႀကီးဆံုး ေျခလွမ္းမွာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံအေပၚ ခ်မွတ္ထားေသာ အေရးယူဒဏ္ခတ္မႈ sanctions မ်ားကို ေႏွာင့္ေႏွးျခင္းမ႐ွိ ႐ုတ္သိမ္းေပးရန္ပင္ ျဖစ္သည္။ ထိုသို႔ ျပဳလုပ္ရန္ ပ်က္ကြက္ျခင္းသည္ ႏုိင္ငံတြင္းမွ အေျပာင္းအလဲ ျငင္းဆန္သူမ်ားကို အားေကာင္းသြားေစႏိုင္ၿပီး၊ ျပဳျပင္ေျပာင္းလဲေရး ျဖစ္စဥ္အား ေမာင္းႏွင္ေနသူမ်ားကိုပါ အားနည္းသြားေစလိမ့္မည္ဟု မွတ္ခ်က္ေပး တင္ျပလုိက္ပါ သည္။
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (ICG) - Asia Briefing N°136
Format/size: pdf (Burmese-723K; English-605K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs13/ICG-Reform-in-myanmar-one-year-on-op-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 June 2012


Title: The Lady and the generals meet half-way
Date of publication: 06 April 2012
Description/subject: "Myanmar's highly anticipated by-elections, held on April 1 for some 45 parliamentary seats, has borne its first diplomatic fruit. The United States announced a relaxation of certain economic sanctions and movement on the resumption of full diplomatic relations with Naypyidaw in reward for the country's recent democratic progress. However, the opposition National League for Democracy's landslide victory of 43 out of the 45 seats may be somewhat overstated and questions remain about the sincerity of President Thein Sein's government's commitment to sustainable reform..."
Author/creator: Brian McCartan
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asia Times Online
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 11 April 2012


Title: Burma: between elections and democracy
Date of publication: 05 April 2012
Description/subject: The by-election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in Burma (Myanmar) raises the question of whether the country is at last on an irreversible path towards democracy. A detailed analysis of the context suggests seven reasons for caution, says Joakim Kreutz.
Author/creator: Joakim Kreutz
Language: English
Source/publisher: openDemocracy
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 05 April 2012


Title: 16 Ways to Fix Burma
Date of publication: 30 March 2012
Description/subject: On the eve of the country's historic elections, 16 experts give us their prescriptions for the future:- Brian Joseph: Create a multi-ethnic state... Tom Kramer and Martin Jelsma: Tackle Burma's drugs problem... Christina Fink: End the civil war... Ronald Findlay: Export or die... Francis Wade: Invite investment -- but with protections... Muang Wuntha: Support press freedom... Myat Htoo Razak: Health is wealth... Timothy Ryan: Let workers unionize freely... Sean Turnell: Cut the bloated military budget... Soe Thinn: Train Burma's new diplomats... Dr. Thein Lwin: Teach the children well... Tin Muang Muan Than: Unleash grassroots entrepreneurship... Andreas Valentin: Come visit, sustainably... David Steinberg: Promote the rule of law... Hanna Hindstrom: Make extractive industries more transparent... Ko Tar: Let the monks lead the way
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Foreign Policy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 31 March 2012


Title: Assessing Burma/Myanmar’s New Government - Challenges and Opportunities for European Policy Responses
Date of publication: 09 March 2012
Description/subject: Amsterdam, 22 & 23 February 2012 "A two-day conference under Chatham House rule was organized on 22-23 February in Amsterdam by BCN-TNI to assess ongoing social and political changes in Burma/Myanmar under the government of President Thein Sein. Sixty people at­tended, including representatives of Bur­mese civil society as well as international non-governmental organisations, diplo­mats and academics.Burma/Myanmar is in the midst of its most important period of political transition in over two decades. Previous times of government change since independence have led to conflict and division rather than inclusion and national progress. Thus the conference focused on developments in five key areas – politics, ethnic relations, the economy, social and humanitarian affairs, and the international landscape – in order to consider the challenges and opportunities that present changes bring. Analysis during the conference reflected the rapid speed of recent change, welcoming the potential that this provides for reconciliation and addressing long-neglected needs. But progress also requires realism and the inclusion of all citizens to foster stability and national advancement. The rapprochement between the government and National League for Democracy, promised economic change and recent spread of ethnic ceasefires are providing grounds for optimism that Burma/Myanmar could be embarking on a road to democratisation and reform. Western governments are keen to support such processes. But the social and political landscape is uneven, with differences between Yangon, for example, and the rest of the country. Burma/Myanmar is at the beginning of a new time of socio-political change – not at an end. It is thus essential that domestic and international policies are reflective of realities and support inclusive reform. The divisions and state failures of the past must not be repeated. In politics, the new government under President Thein Sein appears determined to make the new constitutional system work. Censorship has reduced; many political prisoners have been released; and the door opened to political exiles and international critics. But there remain many uncertainties about how the new political system will evolve. Through the Union Solidarity Development Party, a governmental transition has taken place from the military State Peace and Development Council. But it is unclear how the NLD, ethnic and other opposition parties will fit into the political process. Peace talks in the coming month and parliamentary by-elections on 1 April may answer some of these questions. But, in the meantime, there are many shades of grey in the functioning of government..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute, Burma Centrum Nederland (Burma Policy Briefing Nr 8)
Format/size: pdf (206K)
Date of entry/update: 09 March 2012


Title: The master plan for Myanmar
Date of publication: 10 February 2012
Description/subject: "Myanmar is winning more foreign friends while international criticism of the current and previous government's abysmal human rights records has all but ceased. Old adversaries in the United States and European Union have scrapped - or are planning to scrap - economic sanctions against the regime, and big-time multinational companies are preparing to lunge into what many seems to believe is Asia's last investment frontier. A nearly unanimous Western world has heaped praise on President Thein Sein's supposed moves towards "democratic reform" and "national reconciliation". But what has actually changed and what's behind the hype?..."
Author/creator: Bertil Lintner
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asia Times Online
Format/size: html,
Date of entry/update: 06 May 2012


Title: MYANMAR: A NEW PEACE INITIATIVE
Date of publication: 30 November 2011
Description/subject: Conclusion: "Myanmar has faced ethnic turmoil and armed conflicts since the early days of its independence. Today this remains probably the single most important issue facing the country. In the last few months, the new government has begun implementing an extraordinary series of social, economic and political reforms and a peace initiative that offers steps no previous government has been willing to take. This has convinced most of the armed groups to agree new ceasefires or enter into peace talks. While serious clashes continue in Kachin State and parts of Shan State, momentum is clearly building behind the government’s initiative. It may offer the best chance in over 60 years for resolving these conflicts. Finding a sustainable end to some of the longest-running armed conflicts in the world would be a historic achievement. But lasting peace is by no means assured. Ethnic minority grievances run deep, and bringing peace will take more than reaching ceasefire agreements with the armed groups. It requires addressing the grievances and aspirations of all minority populations and building trust between communities. The way the country deals with its enormous diversity would need to be fundamentally rethought. This is an issue in which every person in the country has a stake. The international community has an important role to play in support of peace and development in Myanmar. It is crucial first to understand the complexities. No one party to the conflict, including the government, can solve the problem by itself; and pressuring one party to a conflict is never likely to be effective. In particular, resolving once and for all the conflict should not become another benchmark that the government must meet in order to achieve improved relations with the West or have sanctions lifted. With respect to a government that has demonstrated a commitment to major reform and closer ties with the West, there are far better diplomatic tools available to keep a focus on the ethnic conflict. The same is true of the serious human rights abuses associated with that conflict. These will only be ended definitively by reforming the institutional culture of the armed forces, changing key military policies that lead to such abuses, strengthening domestic accountability mechanisms to ensure that the prevailing sense of impunity among soldiers in operational areas is addressed – and by peace. The international community must be ready to move quickly to support emerging peace deals with political and development support. Many of the grievances of ethnic minority communities relate to socio-economic and minority rights, and it is important that there be an immediate dividend for any ceasefires, in order to build the constituency for peace. Supporting socio-economic development, greater regional autonomy and peacebuilding and contributing to greater understanding and trust between communities is vital."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (ICG)
Format/size: pdf (454K - OBL version; 3.17MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/214%20Myanmar%20-%20A%20New%20Peace%20Initiative.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 December 2011


Title: Burma Policy: Hope and Reality (video)
Date of publication: 13 October 2011
Description/subject: A charm offensive by the ruling regime in Burma is raising hopes of real change there and expectations of a change in America’s long-standing sanctions policy. How much has really changed in Burma? How real are the government reforms and liberalizing rhetoric? And how might a change in U.S. policy impact the situation on the ground? Join us as we discuss the answers to these questions and others with an eminently qualified panel of experts..... More About the Speakers: Tom Malinowski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch... Aung Din, Executive Director, U.S. Campaign for Burma... Jared Genser, Founder and President, Freedom Now... Walter Lohman (chair), Director, Asian Studies Center
Author/creator: Ko Aung Din, Tom Malinowski, Jared Genser (panelists); Walter Lohman (chair)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Heritage Foundation
Format/size: Adobe Flash (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2011


Title: Between China And India Lies Myanmar's Future - Interview by Host Scott Simon with Thant Myint U (audio and transcript)
Date of publication: 24 September 2011
Description/subject: "Myanmar mostly makes news in the West these days with blood and iron, when the brutal military regime cracks down on monks and others protesting for democracy. Host Scott Simon chats with Thant Myint-U, author of "Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia", who says the country may have a bright and bold future as a bridge between China and India's growing economies."
Language: English
Source/publisher: National Public Radio (NPR)
Format/size: MP3 (audio - 6 min 23 sec ) and html (transcript)
Date of entry/update: 25 September 2011


Title: Myanmar: Major Reform Underway
Date of publication: 22 September 2011
Description/subject: "Six months after the transition to a new, semi-civilian government, major changes are taking place in Myanmar. In the last two months, President Thein Sein has moved rapidly to begin implementing an ambitious reform agenda first set out in his March 2011 inaugural address. He is reaching out to long-time critics of the former regime, proposing that differences be put aside in order to work together for the good of the country. Aung San Suu Kyi has seized the opportunity, meeting the new leader in Naypyitaw and emerging with the conviction that he wants to achieve positive change. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) seems convinced that Myanmar is heading in the right direction and may soon confer upon it the leadership of the organisation for 2014. This would energise reformers inside the country with real deadlines to work toward as they push for economic and political restructuring. Western policymakers should react to the improved situation and be ready to respond to major steps forward, such as a significant release of political prisoners..."
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group -- Asia Briefing N°127
Format/size: pdf (377K - OBL version; 3MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/B127%20Myanmar%20-%20Major%20Reform%20Underway.pdf
Date of entry/update: 22 September 2011


Title: Political Events in Burma: New or Recycled? (Burma Briefing No. 15, September 2011)
Date of publication: September 2011
Description/subject: Introduction: "Since November 2010 there have been a series of political developments in Burma, many of which have variously been hailed as ‘new’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘progress’. In August 2011 the slow drip of ‘positive’ developments became a steady stream, with a number of initiatives which have gained positive publicity for the dictatorship. While some remain cautious, there is an increasing perception that something new is happening in Burma. Once again, many governments are arguing that now is not the time to increase pressure for reform or for an improvement in human rights. They argue that we must wait and see what happens. Some are even arguing for some existing measures to be relaxed. This is despite the fact that on the ground in Burma, the human rights situation has deteriorated, most significantly with the increase of rape and gang rape of ethnic minority women committed by the Burmese Army. The dictatorship in Burma has a long track record of lying, and of dangling the prospect of impending change to the international community, in order to avoid increased pressure, or to try to get pressure relaxed. This briefing paper assesses whether events in Burma in the past year really are new. Are recent events in Burma a sign that real change is on the way at last? Or is this more spin and propaganda from the dictatorship, designed to relax international pressure while maintaining their grip on power?"
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Campaign UK
Format/size: pdf (451K)
Date of entry/update: 10 September 2011


Title: Burma's New Government: Prospects for Governance and Peace in Ethnic States
Date of publication: 29 May 2011
Description/subject: Conclusions and Recommendations: * Two months after a new government took over the reins of power in Burma, it is too early to make any definitive assessment of the prospects for improved governance and peace in ethnic areas. Initial signs give some reason for optimism, but the difficulty of overcoming sixty years of conflict and strongly-felt grievances and deep suspicions should not be underestimated... * The economic and geostrategic realities are changing fast, and they will have a fundamental impact – positive and negative – on Burma’s borderlands. But unless ethnic communities are able to have much greater say in the governance of their affairs, and begin to see tangible benefits from the massive development projects in their areas, peace and broadbased development will remain elusive... * The new decentralized governance structures have the potential to make a positive contribution in this regard, but it is unclear if they can evolve into sufficiently powerful and genuinely representative bodies quickly enough to satisfy ethnic * There has been renewed fighting in Shan State, and there are warning signs that more ethnic ceasefires could break down. Negotiations with armed groups and an improved future for long-marginalized ethnic populations is the only way that peace can be achieved.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI) & Burma Centrum Nederland (BCN). Burma Policy Briefing Nr 6, May 2011
Format/size: pdf (352K - OBL version; 1.1MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/bpb6.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 May 2011


Title: Ethnic Politics in Burma: The Time for Solutions
Date of publication: February 2011
Description/subject: Conclusions and Recommendations: * An inclusive endgame has long been needed to achieve national reconciliation. But political and ethnic exclusions are continuing in national politics. If divisions persist, Burma’s legacy of state failure and national under-achievement will continue... * The moment of opportunity of a new government should not be lost. It is vital that the new government pursues policies that support dialogue and participation for all peoples in the new political and economic system. Policies that favour the armed forces and military solutions will perpetuate divisions and instability... * Opposition groups must face how their diversity and disunity have contributed to Burma’s history of state failure. If they are to support democratic and ethnic reforms, national participation and unity over goals and tactics are essential. All sides must transcend the divisions of the past... * As the new political era begins, the international community should prioritise policies that promote conflict resolution, political rights and equitable opportunity for all ethnic groups in national life, including the economy, health and education. Continued repression and exclusion will deepen grievances – not resolve them.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI) & Burma Centrum Nederland (BCN). Burma Policy Briefing Nr 5, February 2011
Format/size: pdf (462K - OBL version; 1.26 - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/TNI-BCN%20Burma%20policy%20briefing%20no.%205.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 May 2011


Title: The Role of Political Prisoners in the National Reconciliation Process
Date of publication: March 2010
Description/subject: "...This report sets out the vitally important role of Burma's political prisoners in a process of national reconciliation, leading to democratic transition. A genuine, inclusive process of national reconciliation is urgently needed to resolve the current conflicts and make progress towards peace and democracy. A crucial first step in a national reconciliation process is official recognition of ALL Burma's 2,100 plus political prisoners, accompanied by their unconditional release. This is an essential part of trust-building between the military rulers, democratic forces, and wider society. In order for progress towards genuine national reconciliation and democratic transition to be sustainable, ordinary people across Burma must believe in the process. As long as activists remain in prison or continue to be arrested for voicing their political dissent, the people of Burma will have no trust in any political process proposed by the SPDC..."
Language: English (full text); Shan, Kachin, Burmese (executive summary)
Source/publisher: Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP)
Format/size: pdf (4.74MB- OBL version; 9.25MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.aappb.org/The_Role_of_political_prisoners_in_the_national_reconciliation_process.pdf
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs08/The_Role_of_political_prisoners-es-bu.pdf (Executive Summary, Burmese)
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs08/The_Role_of_political_prisoners-es-ka.pdf (Executive Summary, Kachin)
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs08/The_Role_of_political_prisoners-es-sh.pdf ((Executive Summary, Shan)
Date of entry/update: 21 May 2010


Title: The Dynamics of Conflict in the Multiethnic Union of Myanmar
Date of publication: October 2009
Description/subject: * Crucial developments are taking place in Burma / Myanmar's political landscape. Generation change, the change of the nominal political system, and the recovery from a major natural disaster can lead to many directions. Some of these changes can possibly pave the way for violent societal disruptions. * As an external actor the international community may further add to political tensions through their intervening policies. For this reason it is very important that the international community assesses its impact on the agents and structure of conflict in Burma / Myanmar. * This study aims at mapping the opportunities and risks that various types of international aid interventions may have in the country. * The study utilizes and further develops the peace and conflict impact assessment methodology of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
Author/creator: Timo Kivimaki & Paul Pasch
Language: English
Source/publisher: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (PCIA - Country Conflict-Analysis Study)
Format/size: pdf (1.3MB)
Date of entry/update: 24 May 2010


Title: MYANMAR: TOWARDS THE ELECTIONS
Date of publication: 20 August 2009
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "The bizarre prosecution and conviction of opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for violating her house arrest has returned attention to repression in Myanmar, as preparations were underway for the first national elections in twenty years, now scheduled for 2010. This further undermined what little credibility the exercise may have had, especially when based on a constitution that institutionalises the militaryâ�" a number of prominent regime opponents have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms over the last year â�" the constitution and elections together will fundamentally change the political landscape in a way the government may not be able to control. Senior Generals Than Shwe and Maung Aye may soon step down or move to ceremonial roles, making way for a younger military generation. All stakeholders should be alert to opportunities that may arise to push the new government toward reform and reconciliation. At first glance, the obstacles to change seem over­whelming. The 2008 constitution entrenches military power by reserving substantial blocs of seats in the national and local legislatures for the army, creating a strong new national defence and security council and vesting extraordinary powers in the commander-in-chief. It prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from standing for president, even if she were not imprisoned. It is extremely difficult to amend. And while not all regulations relating to the administration of the elections have been an­nounced, they are unlikely to offer much room for manoevre to opposition parties. But the elections are significant because the controversial constitution on which they are based involves a complete reconfiguration of the political structure â�" establishing a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature as well as fourteen regional governments and assemblies â�" the most wide-ranging shake-up in a generation. The change will not inevitably be for the better, but it offers an opportunity to influence the future direction of the country. Ultimately, even assuming that the intention of the regime is to consolidate military rule rather than begin a transition away from it, such processes often lead in unexpected directions. This report looks at the elections in the context of Myan­mar�s constitutional history. It examines key provisions of the 2008 constitution and shows how many of the controversial articles were simply taken from its 1947 or 1974 predecessors. Noteworthy new provisions include strict requirements on presidential candidates, the establishment of state/regional legislatures and governments, the reservation of legislative seats for the military, military control of key security ministries, the authority granted to the military to administer its own affairs (in particular military justice) and the creation of a constitutional tribunal. Criticism of the constitution from groups within Myan­mar has focused on military control, ethnic autonomy, qualifications for political office, and the very difficult amendment procedures. The main reaction of the populace to it and the forthcoming elections is indifference, rooted in a belief that nothing much will change. Some of the so-called ceasefire groups â�" ethnic minorities that have ended their conflicts with the government â�" are endorsing ethnic political parties that will take part in the polls. These groups take a negative view of the constitution but feel that there may be some limited opening of political space, particularly at the regional level, and that they should position themselves to take advantage of this. There are increased tensions, however, as the regime is pushing these groups to transform into border guard forces partially under the command of the national army. The National League for Democracy (NLD), winner of the 1990 elections, has said it will only take part if the constitution is changed, and it is given the freedom to organise. Assuming this will not happen, it is not yet clear if it will call for a complete boycott in an attempt to deny the elections legitimacy or urge its supporters to vote for other candidates. A boycott could play into the hands of the military government, since it would not prevent the election from going ahead and would mainly deprive non-government candidates of votes, potentially narrowing the range of voices in future legislatures. The Myanmar authorities must make the electoral process more credible. Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners must be released now and allowed to participate fully in the electoral process; politically-motivated arrests must cease. It also critical that key electoral legislation be promulgated as soon as possible, in a way that allows parties to register without undue restriction, gives space for canvassing activities and ensures transparent counting of votes. The international community, including Myanmar�s ASEAN neighbours, must continue to press for these measures while looking for opportunities that the elections may bring. This will require a pragmatic and nuanced strategy towards the new government at the very time, following a deeply flawed electoral process, when pressure will be greatest for a tough stance. The new Myanmar government, whatever its policies, will not be capable of reversing overnight a culture of impunity and decades of abuses and political restrictions. But following the elections, the international community must be ready to respond to any incremental positive steps in a calibrated and timely fashion. To have any hope of inducing a reform course, it is critical to find ways to communicate unambiguously that a renormalisation of external relations is possible..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (Asia Report N°174)
Format/size: pdf (2.5MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/south-east-asia/burma-myanmar/174_myanmar___towards_the_elections.ashx
Date of entry/update: 24 August 2009


Title: Listening to Voices from Inside: Myanmar Civil Society’s Response to Cyclone Nargis
Date of publication: 03 May 2009
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Cyclone Nargis is believed to be the worst recorded natural disaster in Myanmar’s history. It swept through the South Eastern region of Myanmar in early May 2008. It caused widespread destruction and devastation. This book contains a collection of narratives obtained through interviews with key actors involved in the cyclone relief effort. We primarily interviewed members of local organisations but have also included a number of alternate perspectives from external actors who work closely with the Myanmar context. The following summary reflects the main points gained from this project: * On the one hand, Cyclone Nargis brought so much destruction. At the same time, it brought people together and provided the opportunity for people in civil society to take action and mount a response to the disaster. This is of particular significance in the Myanmar context where civil society is struggling with the impact of decades of civil war and division amongst identity groups such as clan, ethnicity, religion, or geographic/regional affiliation, or a mixture of these. * As these narratives outline, the response to Cyclone Nargis was massive, immediate and greatly increased people’s capacities in building relationships, working with communities outside traditional target areas, integrating existing programs and working with the authorities. Those providing the response comprised NGOs, business entities, religious institutions, government authorities, and community organisations both highly organised and loosely organised. * Cyclone Nargis provided a number of opportunities for collaboration amongst actors who had previously been looking to work together for some time. It created the conditions for alliances to be forged and many organisations set out strategically to build their networks and integrate existing programs such as environmental awareness, participatory community organising, peacebuilding, etc. have had a much greater destructive impact. A great deal of international assistance was prevented from reaching affected populations due to Government restrictions on entering Myanmar. This situation provided the opportunity for local and international organisations, including the UN, to build their connections and develop strong relationships for their field operations during the relief effort. * Capacity building work carried out by NGOs prior to Cyclone Nargis was able to be capitalised upon in the wake of the disaster. Networks already existed so organisations were able to quickly mobilise community organisers, trauma healers and, in some instances, disaster response teams. Despite this however, capacity building was highlighted by the organisations we interviewed as a significant need of organisations in Myanmar and an area where external organisations can greatly assist. * Through Cyclone Nargis, young people were able to gain volunteer experience and employment as a result of the expansion in NGO activities in responding to the disaster. The focus on building the younger generation is particularly important in the Myanmar context as decades of civil war has led to a decline in education standards and employment opportunities for young people. Building a sense of community by engaging young people in community work and exposing them to different contexts can inspire and encourage young people to become socially active. * External organisations in Myanmar need to understand the local context and the conflict dynamics. This understanding is critical if the assistance provided by external organisations is going to have any resonance. Moreover, without understanding the context and conflict dynamics, local organisations will be unnecessarily burdened by the expectations of outside entities and can potentially be put at risk. * Isolationist policies adopted by the international community towards Myanmar need to be reconsidered. These policies further polarise issues resulting in the Government becoming more entrenched in their position. The majority of civil society groups we interviewed for this project were balancing working with the Government with their commitment to communities. * In carrying out emergency response work for Cyclone Nargis, organisations became aware of the interdisciplinary nature of relief work and the need to work holistically in responding to the context. This necessitated being flexible and creative. * An acceptance that organisations can develop a working relationship with Government and benefit from it, was a key learning expressed by many of the organisations we interviewed. This learning reinforces the importance of networking and building relationships. * A number of organisations interviewed expressed that external organisation should trust the local people to do the work and also support and strengthen local mechanisms in program cycle management. This includes building skills in reporting, monitoring and evaluation. A strong recommendation emerged that participation in developing frameworks and co-operation between external and local organisations and community people, is required."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS)
Format/size: pdf (810K) 230 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/SNAA-7RR92S?OpenDocument
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2009.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/SNAA-7RR92S-full_report.pdf/$File/full_report.pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 July 2010


Title: Burma: Mapping the Challenges and Opportunities for Dialogue and Reconciliation
Date of publication: 31 October 2008
Description/subject: The Union of Myanmar (Burma) has suffered political and ethnic conflict for more than half a century, which continues to hamper the country's social, political and economic development. The present report, prepared by the Crisis Management Initiative for the European Commission, seeks to map the conflict landscape, including its history, the actors involved, and the main obstacles and opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation. It assesses the change processes currently underway in the country and considers relevant comparative experiences from similar transitions elsewhere in the world. The final section contains specific recommendations to the EU and its member states, with particular attention to the possible role for a private (track-2) facilitator.....CONTENTS: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... II. INTRODUCTION... A. Background... B. CMI and Its Mandate... C. The Report... III. OVERVIEW OF THE CONFLICTS... A. General Overview... 1. Types of Conflict... 2. Patterns of Conflict... 3. Consequences of conflict... B. The History of the Main Conflicts... 1. The Struggle over Democracy and Human Rights... 2. The Struggle over Ethnic Autonomy and Equal Rights... 3. Inter-linkages between the Two Struggles... IV. CONFLICT ACTORS... A. The Military Regime... 1. Leadership... 2. Regime structures... 3. Political Agenda ... 4. Underlying values and interests... B. The Democracy Movement... 1. The NLD... 2. Popular activism... 3. Border politics... 4. Exile groups... 5. Challenges for the democracy movement... 6. Facing the challenges: The "new opposition"... C. The Ethnic Nationalist Movement... 1. Ethnic organisations... 2. Ethnic grievances and aspirations... 3. Strategies for change... 4. Recent Trends... 5. Comparing constitutions... V. CONFLICT DIAGNOSIS... A. Obstacles to Reconciliation... 1. Complexity... 2. Mutually exclusive solutions... 3. Institutionalisation of the conflicts... 4. Asymmetric power (and conflict trends)... B. Opportunities for Reconciliation... 1. The search for legitimacy... 2. Institutional reform... 3. Generational change... 4. Burmese views and hopes... VI. PEACE AND THE NEED FOR INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT... A. The State... B. Civil society... VII. EU BURMA POLICY IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE: GLOBAL LESSONS FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT TO DEMOCRATISATION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION... A . European Objectives of Economic Pressure and Support of Democracy and Conflict Prevention... B. International Influence and Domestic Power Settings in Democratising Nations... C. Successful Strategy of Sanctions... 1. How to Make Sanctions Work?... D. Can Positive Means of Supporting Conflict Management Supplement Economic Pressure? ... 1. Burma's ethnic conflict structures... 2. Conflict Resolution in Burma ... E. Can Economic Pressure Be Complemented by Positive Means of Building Good Governance?... F. How Should Positive Work for Democracy Complement Economic Pressure?... VIII. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS... A. How to Prevent Violence in Burma?... B. Conflict Resolution... 1. Sanctions and beyond ... 2. Positive European Contribution for Conflict Resolution ... C. Could Europe Help the Transformation of Structures of Conflict in Burma?... LIST OF REFERENCES... Annex 1: The procedure for invoking Article 96 (consultation article) of the Cotonou Agreement... Annex 2: 20 Most Dramatic Processes of Democratization Since 1900.
Author/creator: Timo Kivimäki & Morten B. Pedersen
Language: English
Source/publisher: Crisis Management Initiative: Martti Ahtisaari Rapid Reaction Facility
Format/size: pdf (2MB)
Date of entry/update: 03 November 2008


Title: The Emperor’s New Clothes
Date of publication: May 2008
Description/subject: Has Than Shwe dug himself into a hole by overestimating his support in the forthcoming referendum?... "THE fate of military-ruled Burma is inextricably linked to some clear promises made by its strongman, the commander in chief of the armed forces, Snr-Gen Than Shwe. His promises of democracy were carved in stone when he announced on February 9 the government’s plans for a constitutional referendum in May, followed by elections in 2010. Then, on March 27, in an Armed Forces Day address to 13,000 government troops in Naypyidaw, Than Shwe said the military would be ready to hand over power to a civilian government after elections in 2010. He went on to claim that the junta has “a sincere aim to develop the country without any cravings for power.” This should have been welcome news to Burma’s long-suffering citizens. Unfortunately, after so much deceit in the past, few Burmese are willing to give the 75-year-old general the benefit of the doubt..."
Author/creator: Yeni
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 16, No. 5
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2008


Title: Burma’s Long Road to Democracy
Date of publication: November 2007
Description/subject: Summary: • In August and September 2007, nearly twenty years after the 1988 popular uprising in Burma, public anger at the government’s economic policies once again spilled into the country’s city streets in the form of mass protests. When tens of thousands of Buddhist monks joined the protests, the military regime reacted with brute force, beating, killing, and jailing thousands of people. Although the Saffron Revolution was put down, the regime still faces serious opposition and unrest. • Burma’s forty-five years of military rule have seen periodic popular uprisings and lingering ethnic insurgencies, which invariably provoke harsh military responses and thereby serve to perpetuate and strengthen military rule. The recent attack on the monks, however, was ill considered and left Burma’s devoutly religious population deeply resentful toward the ruling generals. • Despite the widespread resentment against the generals, a successful transition to democracy will have to include the military. Positive change is likely to start with the regime’s current (though imperfect) plan for return to military-dominated parliamentary government, and achieving real democracy may take many years. When Than Shwe, the current top general, is replaced, prospects for working with more moderate military leaders may improve. In the end, however, only comprehensive political and economic reform will release the military’s grip on the country. • Creating the conditions for stable, effective democracy in Burma will require decades of political and economic restructuring and reform, including comprehensive macroeconomic reform, developing a democratic constitution and political culture, re- establishing rule of law, rebuilding government structures at national and state levels, and building adequate health and educational institutions. • The international community must give its sustained attention to Burma, continuing to press the regime for dialogue with the forces of democracy, beginning with popular democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and insisting on an inclusive constitutional process. International players should also urge the regime immediately to establish a national commission of experts to begin studying and making recommendations for economic restructuring to address the underlying concerns that brought about the Saffron Revolution. • Though China is concerned about the Burmese regime’s incompetence, it has only limited sway with the generals, who are fiercely anticommunist and nationalistic. Nonetheless, Beijing will cautiously support and contribute to an international effort to bring transition, realizing that Burma will be seen as a test of China’s responsibility as a world power. • The United States should restrain its tendency to reach simply for more unilateral sanctions whenever it focuses on Burma. Because a transition negotiated with opposition parties is still likely to produce an elected government with heavy military influence, the United States must prepare to engage with an imperfect Burmese democracy and participate fully in reconstruction and reform efforts, which will require easing some existing sanctions.
Author/creator: Priscilla Clapp
Language: English
Source/publisher: United States Institute for Peace (Special Report 193 November 2007)
Format/size: pdf (215K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs11/Burma%27s%20long%20road%20to%20democracy%20-%20Clapp.pdf
Date of entry/update: 09 September 2011


Title: Building Democracy in Burma
Date of publication: 04 July 2007
Description/subject: "There is no easy answer to the question of whether and to what degree external actors should intervene to trigger or force transition in extreme cases of autocratic or failed governance. Often in the zeal to hasten the demise of bad regimes inadequate consideration is given ahead of time to how the international community can best prepare a backward country for effective democratic governance. Burma – a prime case of arrested development brought about by decades of stubborn, isolationist military rule – provides ample illustration of this dilemma. The great hope for instant transition to democracy that was raised by the 1990 parliamentary elections in Burma was dashed almost immediately by the failure of the military regime to seat the elected parliament. Motivated by despair, many governments adopted policies making regime change a sine qua non for engagement with Burma, hoping this would force the military to follow through on its original promise to return to elected government. Seventeen years later, however, the military remains firmly entrenched in power and the country’s political, economic, and human resources have seriously deteriorated. Even if an elected government could be seated tomorrow, it would find itself bereft of the institutions necessary to deliver stable democratic rule. Starting from the assumption that some degree of transition is inevitable in the not-toodistant future, this study explores the depth of Burma’s deprivations under military rule, focusing on questions of how to make the country’s political, social, and economic institutions adequate to the task of managing democratic governance. It identifies the international mechanisms available to assist in this task, as well as innate strengths that can still be found in Burma, and it discusses what the limitations on assistance might be under various scenarios for political transition. Concluding that some degree of political transition will have to be underway before it will be possible to deliver effective assistance, the study suggests that the most productive policy approaches will require greater coordination and collaboration with Burma’s Asian neighbors."
Author/creator: PRISCILLA CLAPP
Language: English
Source/publisher: United States Institute for Peace
Format/size: pdf (820K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs11/Building_democracy_in_Burma-Clapp.pdf
Date of entry/update: 09 September 2011


Title: 'The Sound of One Hand Clapping'
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: Not a homegrown expression, but one Burmese politicians use to describe the state of political debate. In Burma, the sound of political dialogue is the pure white static of silence... "The problem is so bad that any article which even mentions "dialogue" immediately looks hopelessly off the mark. Burmese politicians aren't the only ones afflicted by one-hand-clapping syndrome. The entire Rangoon diplomatic corps woke in early November to discover that the capital was being relocated at an astrologically auspicious moment to Pyinmana, a semi-constructed command and control center to the north..."
Author/creator: Dominic Faulder
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Looking for Burma's Ramos
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: Philippine general's 1986 role could be a model for change in Rangoon... "The Philippines"Edsa" uprising against President Marcos's authoritarian rule inspired Burmese democrats. They followed the news of the peoples' resistance in Manila avidly. They admired the sight of Gen Fidel Ramos atop a tank, leading mutinying Philippine troops supported by thousands of pro-democracy protesters. And as Marcos fled the country and democracy was restored to Southeast Asia's once most vibrant democratic nation, the Burmese yearned for a similar scenario in Rangoon. Two years later, in 1988, Burma's democracy advocates had a shot at removing the ruling Burma Socialist Program Party led by despotic Gen Ne Win. But unlike the Philippine resistance, the Burmese failed. No reminder is needed, but that failure has brought untold misery to the nation. And most of Burma's 54 million people continue to pay the price to this day..."
Author/creator: Aung Naing Oo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Papering Over the Cracks
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: Burma's military is riven by internal conflicts. Snr-Gen Than Shwe, however, seems completely unfazed... "Burma's military leaders began expanding their army, navy and air force soon after crushing the nationwide democracy uprising in 1988. With the help of powerful neighbors and friends in the West, they began stocking up on new jet fighters, warships, tanks and ammunition. Today, Burma's military is one of the strongest in the region. The country's once powerful rebel armies are now under control, and traditional opposition groups and student activists have been largely obliterated. Despite this, Burma's all-powerful generals have never quite lost their siege mentality. Their incompetence in solving the country's economic and social woes is causing alarm throughout the region. Faced with threats from new, urban opposition, pockets of insurgency and increasing international pressure, Burma remains isolated and the generals paranoid..."
Author/creator: Aung Zaw
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Political Transition in Myanmar: A New Model for Democratisation
Date of publication: February 2005
Description/subject: ABSTRACT: "This article examines social and political transition in Myanmar (Burma). Strategies for transition in Myanmar have tended to focus on elite-level politics, rather than grass-roots democratisation and social mobilisation. However, both approaches are necessary - although neither is sufficient in itself. While change at the national/elite level is urgently required, sustained democratic transition can only be achieved if accompanied by local participation. The tentative re-emergence of civil society networks within and between ethnic nationality/ minority communities over the past decade is one of the most significant - but under-examined - aspects of the social and political situation in Myanmar. ‘Development from below’, and efforts to build local democracy from the ‘bottom-up’, using local capacities and social capital, are underway in government-controlled areas, and in some ethnic nationality-populated ceasefire and war zones (including insurgent-controlled areas), as well as in neighbouring countries. However, the sector is still under-developed, and changes coming from civil society will be gradual, and need to be supported. This article examines the strategic challenges facing ethnic nationalist leaders and communities at this key period in Myanmar’s history. It also addresses the roles that foreign aid can play in supporting the re-emergence of civil society in Myanmar, and advocates a policy of selective (or targeted) engagement’..."
Author/creator: Ashley South
Language: English
Source/publisher: Ashley South
Format/size: html (172K)
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2005


Title: Reconciliation 'Don't Let's Lose Hope'
Date of publication: December 2004
Description/subject: "The Irrawaddy spoke to Tin Maung Than on the possibilities for political change in Burma and the need for the opposition to make a realistic plan with the regime. Tin Maung Than is a researcher at the Burma Fund based in Washington DC. He was formerly editor of the banned Thintbawa ("Your Life") magazine in Rangoon. Question: Do you see any hope for change in Burma with the ouster of Gen Khin Nyunt? Answer: I still have hope for change after dreadful decades of military dictatorship. But, sadly, I don't see any sign of it. There are two different approaches and I do not hear anyone coming up with [any] creative idea[s] to bridge the gap between the parties. Q: How do you see the leadership change affecting the National Convention? Will it lead to democracy? A: I think the wine bottle is the same whether Gen Khin Nyunt or Sr-Gen Than Shwe holds it. [The] international community expected that Gen Khin Nyunt would hold a dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi within the framework of [the] National Convention. He just gave a hint but did not come forward with any political proposals. The road map, which Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] thought [of] as Prime Minister Khin Nyunt's proposal, was in fact, not different from the old one in 1993 and the adopted chapters would not lead the country to democracy. But if all parties are able to make a few concessions, it can lead to democracy..."
Author/creator: Tin Maung Than
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 11
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 31 January 2005


Title: Myanmar: sanctions, engagement or another way forward?
Date of publication: 26 April 2004
Description/subject: "...Since 1990, most Western governments have taken a self-consciously principled approach to Myanmar, applying coercive diplomacy and economic sanctions in an effort to force the military government to implement the results of the multiparty election held that year. The 30 May 2003 attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and her followers increased both political pressure and justification for strengthening this approach. However, the military government today is more entrenched and more recalcitrant than when it took power. The prodemocratic opposition -- although it maintains broad popular support -- has lost much of its momentum, and international actors have demonstrably failed to protect even Aung San Suu Kyi, not to speak of less prominent figures, from persecution. Meanwhile, the socio-economic conditions for a majority of the population have greatly deteriorated. In short, things are moving the wrong way. The much gentler 'engagement' policy embraced by most of Myanmar's Asian neighbours for most of the period of military rule has been equally unproductive. In the absence of any external pressure at all for change, it is highly unlikely that any change at all will occur. The people of Myanmar need greater say in the governance of their country. The failure of 40 years of military rule to provide human welfare and security consonant with the country's great natural potential is closely linked to the absence of popular participation in decision-making. For now, however, the configuration of power and interests inside the country are not conducive to major, quick change -- and there are no "magic bullets", no realistic policy options that can change that. In such circumstances, efforts are required to change political, social and economic realities over a longer period in ways that would facilitate better governance and the gradual introduction and consolidation of genuinely democratic institutions. That is only likely to happen if coercive measures are allied to a more flexible, intensive and sustained diplomatic strategy that does not in any way embrace the military government, but rather includes a greater willingness to pursue some half-measures, small steps and even limited cooperation in order to begin to move the country forward while protecting those who suffer under the status quo or might be hurt by future reforms. International objectives have to be rethought, new benchmarks for change adopted, a more supportive approach toward creating a positive internal climate of change adopted, and more support given to the UN in its important mediation and facilitation role. The road map put forward by the SPDC and realignments within the military government offer a sign of movement, slight though it may be, in the political situation. This provides an opportunity to encourage progress and should not be dismissed out of hand. Any government or institution that deals with Myanmar needs to maintain an acute sense of the realities of the country: change is often painfully slow and easily reversed, the military is an intensely difficult institution with which to deal, and outside influence on any of the actors is very limited. The international community should take whatever opportunity is presented to encourage whatever progress is possible. That means developing a new policy approach -- containing elements of the present sanctions approach of the West and engagement policy of the region, but more productive than either -- that brings together international actors rather than divides them, creates an environment for change in the country and offers a way out for all parties that has a chance of being accepted..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Crisis Group (ICG)
Format/size: pdf (635K)
Date of entry/update: 26 April 2004


Title: Interpreting the State of Burma - An Interview with Robert H Taylor
Date of publication: February 2004
Description/subject: "Robert H Taylor is a consultant on Myanmar and Southeast Asian Affairs and recently was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. He has taught in the US, UK, and Australia and has written and edited several books and articles on Burma’s politics and history. He spoke with The Irrawaddy about Burma under military rule and the government’s road map proposal for the country’s future. Question: Why are many Burmese and foreign observers and diplomats skeptical about the seven-point road map plan? Answer: Well, it’s a question of whether you see the cup half full or half empty. And whether your interim goal is immediate full democratization and the withdrawal of the Army from politics or some sort of transitional, interim step. If you take the view of the US State Department and people of that ilk that the Army has to give up power instantly and hand it over to the NLD, that’s definitely not going to happen. If you take the view that the compromise deal which allowed a greater degree of political space in Myanmar [Burma] society, the development of political institutions in conjunction with the Army, that the Army has a role for a while in the management of the state, perhaps in conjunction with groups in civil society and ceasefire groups and political parties, then you can see it as an optimistic possibility. I’ve always taken the view that things don’t leap overnight from black to white. There’s a lot of processes in the middle, provisional steps, evolutionary processes and go forward in that way..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 12, No. 2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 June 2004


Title: Lückenhafte Chronik eines sich ankündigenden Zusammenstoßes
Date of publication: September 2003
Description/subject: Überlegungen zur Vorgeschichte der Vorgänge des 30. Mai in Nord-Myanmar. Analyse des Verhältnisses zwischen Aung San Suu Kyi / Opposition und Militärregierung. Aussicht auf Versöhnung - Depayin clashes, transition process, relationship Aung San Suu Kyi and SPDC, talks
Author/creator: Hans-Bernd Zöllner
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: Burma Initiative Asienhaus
Format/size: pdf (132K)
Date of entry/update: 05 December 2003


Title: Wege aus der Isolation. Birmas nationaler und internationaler Aussöhnungsprozess
Date of publication: August 2003
Description/subject: Zu Beginn der neunziger Jahre reagierten die EU und die USA auf die 1988 erfolgte Machtübernahme des Militärs in Birma und die Nichtanerkennung des 1990 errungenen Wahlsiegs der Opposition mit der öffentlichen Verurteilung dieses Regimes und einer Reihe wirtschaftlicher und politischer Sanktionen. Die ASEAN-Staaten wie auch UNO-Generalsekretär Kofi Annan setzten hingegen auf eine Strategie des »konstruktiven Engagements«, die durch einen intensiven Dialog mit der Regierung in Rangun den Weg zu politischen Reformen zu ebnen versuchte. Beide Strategien haben bislang nicht zu den beabsichtigten Ergebnissen geführt. Ausgangspunkt dieser Studie ist daher die Frage, welche Faktoren zu jener fast unauflöslich erscheinenden Konfrontation zwischen der Militärregierung einerseits und der birmanischen Opposition sowie den westlich orientierten Staaten andererseits geführt haben und welche Strategie von außen, vor allem von der EU, entwickelt werden sollte, um eine Neugestaltung der politischen Machtverhältnisse und eine Verbesserung der mehr als desolaten Lebensverhältnisse vieler Einwohner Birmas zu erzielen. Die Studie kommt zu dem Schluß, daß die politische und wirtschaftliche Krise Birmas nur durch einen langfristigen und umfassenden Transformationsprozeß bewältigt werden kann, in dem Veränderungen der sozioökonomischen Basis und der politischen Strukturen eng miteinander zu verknüpfen sind. Von Seiten des Auslands - nicht zuletzt der EU - kann und sollte dieser Transformationsprozeß nach Kräften und in den unterschiedlichsten Bereichen gefördert werden. Hierbei müssen positive Anreize und Druck einander nicht ausschließen, sondern es wäre im jeweiligen Einzelfall zu prüfen, ob eine Zusammenarbeit möglich und nützlich erscheint oder aber verweigert werden muß. Ways out of isolation, Burma's national and international reconciliation process, transition and democratisation
Author/creator: Gerhard Will
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 July 2005


Title: Breaking the "Stagnant Embrace" - The Coming Negotiations and the Politics of Transition
Date of publication: September 2002
Description/subject: "As Burma moves toward a negotiated settlement to end its political impasse, the transition to democracy promises to be a messy one... The idea that negotiations between the Burmese military regime�the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)�and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democratic opposition, will lead to a democratic transition in Burma sooner or later is an idea whose time has come. A negotiated settlement is in the pipeline since there is no viable alternative to dialogue and a negotiated transition. However, this is not to say that both the camps are as committed to this path as it appears. Each would certainly prefer a less messy, more clear-cut solution: on the one hand, the overthrow of the military regime, and on the other, the collapse or "disappearance" of the democratic opposition..."
Author/creator: "Burma Observer"
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 10, No. 7, September 2002
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Women and Peace Building. Workshops on the role for Burmese women in developing peace building strategies
Date of publication: 21 May 2002
Description/subject: "On 16-17 May 2003 a workshop was held in New Delhi, India, and on the 19- 21 May 2003 a similar workshop was held in Chiangmai, Thailand, organized by International IDEA and the Women’s League of Burma (WLB). The aims of the workshops were to strengthen capacities of women from the ethnic nationalities to participate in and shape the National Reconciliation Process in Burma. The resources persons for the workshops were: Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Director of the International Center for Ethnic Studies who spoke both about the international context and standards of women’s participation in peace processes and about the Sri Lankan experience in particular. Ms. Myriam Méndez-Montalvo, Senior Programme Officer for International IDEA, who spoke about experiences in Colombia and Guatemala, Ms. Nomboniso Gasa, former Member of the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa, who spoke about women’s peace building initiatives in South Africa. Ms. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director of the Joint Women’s Program, India participated in New Delhi only and spoke of the experiences of women in India. Ms. Theresa Kelly, founding member of the Women’s Coalition of Northern Ireland, participated in Chiangmai only and spoke about the creation of the Women’s Coalition and its role in the peace process and in current politics in Northern Ireland..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma, International IDEA
Format/size: pdf (388.79 K)
Date of entry/update: 06 August 2010


Title: "Without inner freedom you can achieve nothing" An Interview with Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
Date of publication: December 2001
Description/subject: "To mark the tenth anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic agreed to share his views on her accomplishments, as well as on the current situation in Burma, with Irrawaddy readers. In this exclusive interview, conducted via e-mail with Irrawaddy correspondent Min Zin, President Havel expresses his agreement with Aung San Suu Kyi’s belief that the struggle for democracy needs to be "a movement very much of the spirit", and urges Burmese "to begin thinking not only about changes but also about what will come afterwards." ..."
Author/creator: Min Zin, Vaclav Havel
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 9, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burmas Democratic Transition: About Justice, Legitimacy, and Past Political Violence
Date of publication: December 2001
Description/subject: "Burma is a nation in crisis. It faces severe economic stagnation, endemic poverty, and serious health and social welfare challenges, all within a context of significant international isolation. Burmas status as an international pariah represents a global response to a history of gross violations of human rights as well as the refusal of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the ruling military regime, to recognize the National League of Democracy (NLD) partys overwhelming victory in the 1990 elections. It is difficult to imagine how Burma can respond to its current crisis without addressing its global political isolation, a process that will almost certainly require a political transition from authoritarian rule to a constitutionally-based electoral democracy. In this sense, the question facing Burma is not so much whether there needs to be a democratic transition, but rather how this transition will be managed and when it will take place..."
Author/creator: Daniel Rothenberg
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 10 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal_Issues_on%20Burma_Journal_10.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Secession and Self-Determination in the Context of Burma's Transition
Date of publication: December 2001
Description/subject: "The word 'secession' has originated from the concept of 'self-determination'. Apart from its historical context, 'self-determination' can also be seen in its plain meaning. The Oxford Dictionary defines 'self-determination as, 'The right of a nation or people to decide what form of government it will have or whether it will be independent of another country or not'. The second part of this definition is easy to understand. A nation or people has the right to be independent of another country when under subjugation of that country. But sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a nation striving for selfdetermination is actually a nation..."
Author/creator: B.K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 10 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal_Issues_on%20Burma_Journal_10.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Dialog in vermintem Gelaende
Date of publication: June 2001
Description/subject: Analytische Aspekte zu den im Oktober 2000 begonnenen Gesprächen zwischen der Militärjunta und der Opposition in Burma und den Reaktionen darauf von Hans-Bernd Zoellner, einem der führenden Burma-Wissenschaftler in Deutschland (Downlaod als pdf-Datei). Hans-Bernd Zoellner's analysis of the current talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the SPDC. (it is in pdf-format for download). (history, NLD, SPDC, politics, also: international community reactions and human rights movement mentioned in the article).
Author/creator: Hans-Bernd Zöllner
Language: Deutsch
Source/publisher: Südostasien, Jg. 17, Nr. 2 - Asienhaus
Format/size: PDF (114K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Public Participation and Minorities
Date of publication: 01 April 2001
Description/subject: "Public participation is a key issue in the context of minority and indigenous peoples' rights. This Report, by a leading constitutional lawyer, clearly describes the range of devices that can be used to provide for participation - representation, power sharing, autonomy and self-determination - and discusses the experiences of constitutional and political provision for minorities and indigenous peoples. This is supplemented with a wealth of examples: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Fiji, India, Northern Ireland and South Africa amongst others."
Author/creator: Yash Ghai
Language: English
Source/publisher: Minority Rights Group International
Format/size: pdf (203K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.agora-parl.org/sites/default/files/public%20participation%20and%20minorities_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 06 August 2010


Title: Burmas Transition to Rule of Law in Different Contexts
Date of publication: April 2001
Description/subject: In Brief: (1) "...In the case of Burma, the UN has successfully brought about on-going confidence-building talks between the military junta and the democratic opposition. The UN must continue to play this crucial role. Restoration of the Rule of Law in Burma cannot destroy the concerned parties; on the contrary, Rule of Law essentially provides the mechanism to resolve conflicts. If the domestic mechanism does not work, the only other option for the International Community is to take initiatives to prevent the outbreak of violence. The key to change (in Burma as well as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) by and large is in the hands of the International Community. Democratic transition can only emerge peacefully if there is interaction between the domestic and international forces. Rule of Law is without borders..." (2) a study of lessons for Burma in the transiton process in the Philippines. (3) "Burmas Transition: About Corruption and Abuse of Power"
Author/creator: B.K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 8 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%208.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Designing Constitution as Policy Formulation
Date of publication: April 2001
Description/subject: "An intensive people's movement for the restoration of democracy and human rights has been existing in Burma for more than a decade. In the meantime, both government and opposition groups have been drafting constitutions, to be put into force during the transition to a more open and democratic system of government..."
Author/creator: Khin Maung Win
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 8 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%208.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Ensuring Free and Fair Elections in a Democratic Burma: Establishing an Electoral System and Election Processes
Date of publication: April 2001
Description/subject: "A country embarking on a transition to democracy has many issues to deal with. One of the most critical is the question of elections, the type of system chosen and the manner in which elections are conducted.1 Free and fair elections are necessary to establish a democratic, human rights-based society, and to ensure that the government and the state are legitimate.2 The right to vote is an instrument of power for both the voter and the state. When giving the people the right to vote, it is necessary to determine who is permitted to vote, and to regulate the exercise of the vote through a system which could include legislation and ways of verifying the identity of people. Such a system helps to prevent non-resident citizens from voting, and to exclude residents who do not qualify to vote. In some countries, for example, prisoners may not vote..."
Author/creator: Jeremy Sarkin
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 8 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%208.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Human Rights and Legal Issues for a Democratic Transition of Burma
Date of publication: April 2001
Description/subject: Argues, with specific examples, that transition in Burma requires restoration of the rule of law. "Many people and organizations have commented that the event that never happened before in Burma has happened now. It refers to the current dialogue process between the military regime and the National League for Democracy (NLD). However, unfortunately, it is still not entirely certain whether it is an authentic process, which would successfully create a democratic transition of Burma, or a political strategy of the regime, prolonging its power. The NLD announced to resolve the issues of the country several times, by establishing a genuine political dialogue, and so did the major ethnic resistance organizations. Controversy is not attributed to the position of the NLD but to the previous actions of the military regime..."
Author/creator: Aung Htoo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 8 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%208.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Toward Transition With Rule of Law
Date of publication: April 2001
Description/subject: "The new political scenario in Burma has given hope for change. The scenario relates to the current talks between the Junta and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the democratic opposition. The scenario is new because the past has witnessed disastrous confrontation between the two forces. The Junta stated first that they wanted the annihilation of the National League for Democracy. Now the Junta has condescended to talks. Hope for change has come because an end to the long military rule since 1962 is in sight. The end of the military rule is pregnant with the expectations of the people that there will be a beginning of the Rule of Law. The transition from authoritarianism to democracy will be ambiguous if it is not founded on interim institutional changes on issues of Rule of Law..."
Author/creator: B.K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 8 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%208.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Negotiating a political settlement in South Aftica: Are there lessons for Burma?
Date of publication: 2001
Description/subject: Report of Workshops held in Chiangmai, Thailand & New Delhi, India April 2000.The South African experience; Lessons Learned. Distinguishing between Burma and South Africa. The pre-negotiation phase -Creating the conditions for a negotiated settlement: Subjective and objective factors; Objective factors; International pressure; Economic pressures; Military factors; Internal mass opposition ; The sustainability of minority rule ; Subjective factors; Liberation movements; The regime; Making the negotiations option attractive. Establishing and sustaining the negotiating process: Dealing with preconditions: "Levelling the playing fields" ; Protecting the process from violence; Violent challenges to the negotiations; The National Peace Accord; Agreeing on the constitution-making process; Agreeing on the process; Phase one: Establishing binding principles prior to elections; Phase two: Operationalising the binding principles through the Constitution. The making of the constitution: Inclusivity; Popular participation; Confronting the past in order to face the future. Substantive choices in the South African: constitution-making process; The Constitutional State; Government of National Unity; Bill of Rights; Strong Parliament; Institutions supporting democracy; Electoral System; Language and Culture; Federal or regional decentralization; Decentralization and financial matters; Critical observations of the constitution; Detailed drafting; Cost of structures; Impractical provisions. Lessons from the South African negotiations.
Language: English
Source/publisher: International IDEA
Format/size: PDF (193K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Dealing With Past Human Rights Abuses: Promoting Reconciliation in a Future Democratic Burma
Date of publication: December 2000
Description/subject: Justice in Transition: "As the twenty-first century begins, transitions from repressive rule to democracy have become a worldwide phenomenon. In many cases, the displaced regimes have been characterized by massive violations of human rights. While it is unclear when Burma will be free, it is certain that it will eventually become a democracy. A critical challenge that will arise for the democratically-elected government when it comes to power will be how to deal with past human rights abuses.1 Burma is not alone Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Germany, Honduras, Chile, Columbia, Greece, Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, East Timor, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and other countries have recently or are presently looking at ways of dealing with these issues...A future democratic Burma will have to plot its course carefully with regard to dealing with the past. Decisions about whether to have trials and, if so, who ought to be tried; or whether to pass or rescind amnesty laws; and whether there should be a truth commission or some similar process are difficult and complex. They must be taken in the context of the unique historical, economic, political and social factors, as well as what would best satisfy the needs of the victims. While there is an accepted and majority view that, for certain crimes, international law puts a duty on a state to prosecute or extradite offenders, in reality the type of justice which a particular country adopts is dependent on the balance of power between the new government and the repressive one it replaces..."
Author/creator: Jeremy Sarkin
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 7 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found on http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%207.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Key events in Myanmar's post-junta moves to reform
Description/subject: Myanmar's government gave way to a civilian administration last year after four decades of military rule. The new government embarked on a surprising array of reforms, prompted in part by a desire to turn around its image as a repressive regime and get Western sanctions lifted:...
Language: English
Source/publisher: Associated Press
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 31 March 2012