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Archive for Myanmar

Newsline: ASEAN diplomats, relief convoy attacked in Myanmar

A convoy including diplomats representing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people in strife-torn Myanmar has been ambushed, state media and a member of an ethnic minority militia said Monday. State-run television MRTV reported that the attack on the convoy with delegates from the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance and the Indonesian and Singaporean embassies occurred Sunday in eastern Shan state and was carried out by “terrorists.” The report did not say which organization the “terrorists” were from. The military government uses the term “terrorists” for a wide range of forces opposed to military rule. The report said the gunmen opened fire with small arms and the security team accompanying the convoy returned fire. A security vehicle was damaged, but no one in the convoy was injured, it said. (https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/asean-relief-convoy-attacked-in-myanmar-no-casualties/) The “heinous” attack made it more difficult for displaced people as the government tries to improve relations with other countries to alleviate the situation, the report said. MRTV said the government is cooperating in providing humanitarian assistance under a Five Point Consensus reached by ASEAN in 2021 in an effort to help restore peace in Myanmar after the army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. The military government has not implemented most parts of the consensus, which calls for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar, dialogue among all parties, the appointment of a special envoy, humanitarian assistance by ASEAN, and a visit by the special envoy to Myanmar to meet with all parties. Its failure to carry out the agreement has caused ASEAN to bar Myanmar’s military leaders from its top-level meetings.

Newsline: Chinese embassy rescued national smuggled into Myanmar

Chinese Embassy in Myanmar announced on Thursday that it had rescued a Chinese national who was smuggled into Myanmar and was forced to engage in telecom fraud. The person was lured by a criminal organization and was smuggled into Tachilek city in Shan State to engage in the criminal activity of telecom fraud, and was beaten and detained with his life being threatened. Upon learning of the situation, the Chinese Embassy immediately coordinated with the Myanmar police to deploy police forces and carry out a rescue operation. The Chinese national has since been successfully removed to safety, the embassy said on its official WeChat account. The Chinese Embassy once again reminds Chinese citizens not to believe the “high salary, low threshold” overseas recruitment advertisements to avoid falling into criminal schemes involving “telecom fraud and internet gambling.” (https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202304/1288676.shtml) If Chinese nationals are illegally detained in Myanmar, the victims or their families are requested to report to the police of China and Myanmar as soon as possible and to the Chinese embassies and consulars in Myanmar so that the police can assist in rescue and extraction. In recent years, online gambling and telecom fraud have caused a series of social problems in Myanmar, including murder, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Newsline: U.S. decides not to send ambassador to Myanmar

The U.S. will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Myanmar, with the incumbent American ambassador, Thomas Vajda, returning home later this month and Washington deciding not to send a successor, Nikkei Asia has learned. “Deputy chief of mission Deborah Lynn will assume duties as charge d’affaires at [the] U.S. Embassy Rangoon upon Ambassador Vajda’s departure,” a State Department spokesperson responded to Nikkei by email. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Myanmar-Crisis/U.S.-to-downgrade-Myanmar-ties-decides-not-to-send-ambassador) Washington is making it clear that it does not recognize Myanmar’s military regime.

Newsline: Former UK ambassador among prisoners freed in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military has freed a number of opposition figures, as well as a former UK ambassador, a Japanese filmmaker and an Australian adviser to the country’s ousted civilian leader. Ex-diplomat Vicky Bowman and journalist Toru Kubota were jailed earlier this year, while economist Sean Turnell was detained soon after the 2021 coup. All three have flown out of the country after being deported. (https://news.yahoo.com/vicky-bowman-former-uk-ambassador-032055614.html) Ms Bowman served as the UK’s envoy to Myanmar between 2002 and 2006 and was running the Yangon-based Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) at the time of her arrest. A fluent Burmese speaker, she is a well-known member of Myanmar’s small international community. Her husband Htein Lin, a former political prisoner, was also on the list of those to be freed. The couple were detained when they returned to the city from a home they have in Shan State. Military authorities charged them both with failing to register her as living at a different address. The military said some 6,000 pardons were to mark Myanmar National Day.

Newsline: Former UK ambassador to Myanmar sentenced to one year in prison

Former British envoy to Myanmar was sentenced to one year in prison on Friday for immigration offense. (https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/nation-world/story/2022-09-02/diplomat-former-british-envoy-to-myanmar-sentenced-to-1-year-in-prison-for-immigration-offense) Last week, the authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation. Vicky Bowman, who run the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner, were detained last Wednesday. A statement from the junta said the couple were being investigated under the Immigration Act for staying at a different address than Bowman’s official registration specified, after moving to a different town. “It is found that Vicky Bowman violated the immigration act 13/1,” said the statement circulated to journalists. The law carries a sentence of six months to five years of prison time. The junta did not specify whether the couple was in custody, but a source said they were in detention at Insein Prison.

Newsline: Myanmar accused of “hostage diplomacy” following arrest of ex-U.K. ambassador

The Myanmar military’s recent arrest of a former British ambassador is an example of “hostage diplomacy,” activists and opposition politicians say. The detention of the ex-diplomat came as Britain moved to further isolate the Southeast Asian regime. Activists say the detention of Bowman, who is being charged for staying at a different address than the residence that she officially registered, reflects the growing impunity of the military. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/08/26/myanmar-arrest-vicky-bowman-hostage-diplomacy/) The junta has brutally crushed opposition over the past year and defied international appeals last month in executing four pro-democracy leaders. Many also see the arrest as an attempt to pressure foreign governments against undermining the regime, including with stronger sanctions. Vicky Bowman, who served as British ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006, was arrested Wednesday evening at her Yangon apartment along with her husband, Htein Lin, a renowned Burmese artist. They join the 15,000-plus people arrested by the military junta since it seized power in a coup in February 2021, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit that tracks people persecuted by the regime. The figures include at least three other foreigners.

Newsline: Britain’s former ambassador to Myanmar detained in Yangon

Authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, where a military junta seized power last year, three people with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday. Vicky Bowman, who currently runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner, were detained on Wednesday, the sources said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. A source with knowledge of the situation said Bowman and her husband had been charged with immigration offences. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/britains-former-myanmar-envoy-detained-in-yangon–sources-2731993 The arrest comes on the heels of Britain announcing that it is imposing fresh sanctions to target military-linked businesses in Myanmar and joining the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice. Three companies are being penalised with sanctions “in an effort to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue”, the British government said in a statement on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Myanmar junta did not answer repeated calls seeking comment.

Newsline: Top Southeast Asian diplomats discuss Violence in Myanmar

Top Southeast Asian diplomats meeting in Cambodia’s capital intensified efforts Wednesday to stop the escalating violence in Myanmar, and to address other pressing — and often divisive — regional issues. It is the first in-person meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has weakened economies and complicated diplomacy, and comes at a time of increased tensions between the United States and China, as well as global increases in food and energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “ASEAN has to deal with challenges of different types and levels but never before, never like this year, have we been confronted at the same time with so many perils for the region and the world at large,” Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn told the delegates ahead of the meetings. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-08-03/stopping-myanmar-violence-tops-meeting-of-asian-diplomats) Cambodia currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, which also includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei in addition to Myanmar.

Newsline: Myanmar embassy negotiates with Chinese authorities for return of 600 citizens

Myanmar Embassy in Beijing is now in negotiations with Chinese authorities to allow nearly 600 Myanmar citizens in China to return home, according to the embassy. A total of 910 Myanmar citizens working in China had contacted the embassy to assist them with returning home. The embassy contacted Foreign Ministry of China, Department of Consular Affairs, respective regional authorities and police stations to inform them about the matter. (https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/myanmar-embassy-negotiates-with-chinese-authorities-for-return-of-600-citizens) Moreover, 597 Myanmar citizens sent their documents including National Registration Numbers to the embassy. The embassy is now carrying out procedures for their return.

Newsline: Rights group denounces Japan envoy for ‘disturbing’ comments on Myanmar Rohingya

Tokyo-based human rights activists on Wednesday decried recent remarks by Japan’s ambassador to Yangon, who told local media he did not think the Myanmar military committed genocide on the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country. Zaw Min Htut, vice president of an advocacy group, Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan, said the ambassador’s remarks were “disturbing”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-myanmar/rights-group-denounces-japan-envoy-for-disturbing-comments-on-myanmar-rohingya-idUSKBN1ZE0V7) More than 730,000 Rohingya fled the Southeast Asian nation to Bangladesh in 2017 after a military-led crackdown. The United Nations has said the campaign was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rape. The military offensive has sparked a series of ongoing legal cases filed in recent months at courts across the globe, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), both based in the Hague.