2 children infected with H1N1 in Kyaukme



Two children in Kyaukme Township, northern Shan State, are have been infected with swine flu, according to an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).


Sai Tun Nyun, an SNLD MP representing Kyaukme, who has been assisting in a health awareness campaign about the H1N1 virus, told Shan Herald that he was advised by Dr. Aung Aung, the head of the local health department, that two children were diagnosed with H1N1 on August 13.

“These two children, aged about 7-8, were brought to Kyaukme Hospital on August 9. They are from Pakar village, Tawsarng village tract, in Kyaukme,” he said. “Their blood was sent for testing in Yangon and found to be carrying the swine flu virus.”

He said that the young victims’ condition is not serious, and that their health is good. They will remain in hospital for treatment, Sai Tun Nyun said.

Since early August, seven people have been diagnosed with the H1N1 flu strain across Shan State and another four are currently being tested, according to Dr. Sai Zaw Win Hlaing, the deputy of Shan State’s Public Health Department.


Throughout the country, 25 persons have died from the disease and another 242 have been confirmed infected.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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Burmese troops shoot at trucks in Lashio



Two vehicles were shot at by Burma government soldiers when they failed to stop at a checkpoint in northern Shan States Lashio Township.


The incident happened at about 5 pm on August 8 in Ei Nai village, Ei Nai tract, Lashio Township, and involved the drivers of two 4WD trucks travelling from Namtu Township to Lashio.

These two 4WD trucks drove past the gate and didn’t stop,” said Sai Wan Leng Kham, an Upper House MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Lashio Township. “The soldiers shot at them and one vehicle was hit on its bonnet.”

 He added: The shooting also hit three nearby houses. One 60-year-old woman was quite badly shocked.”

MP Sai Wan Leng Kham said that, following the shooting, people in the area are rather afraid. He said he would investigate the incident and report on it in parliament.

A shooting like this can easily cause a fire or kill someone,he said. “We have to bring this case onto the floor of a parliamentary session. If we do nothing, incidents like this will happen again in the future.”


By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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RCSS/SSA to return detained soldier to Tatmadaw



The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) says it will return a Burmese soldier who was apprehended earlier this week during a clash in Mong Kung Township, southern Shan State.

Gen Yawd Serk, the chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA).

Gen. Yawd Serk, the chairman of the RCSS/SSA, told Shan Herald that the arrested soldier will be handed over to the Burmese army. He said that his group had reported the case to Shan States Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), which was formed to monitor both government forces and ethnic armed groups in accordance with the terms of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signed on October 15, 2015.

This arrested soldier is from Bago Township,he said. “We are in the process in transferring him back to the Tatmadaw [Burmese army].”

Fighting between RCSS/SSA and Burmese army Infantry Battalion 577 broke out in Wan Mong village tract in Mong Kung Township on August 13.

On October 5, 2016, Shan Herald reported that clashes between two groups broke out in Mong Kung Township, a RCSS/SSA stronghold, when a Burmese unit overran an RCSS/SSA rehabilitation center. The hostilities compelled more than 2,000 civilians to flee their homes.

The RCSS/SSA is considered one of the strongest ethnic armed groups in Burma. Despite the ceasefire accord, it has clashed more than 20 times with Burmese government forces since the signing of the NCA with the then President Thein Sein administration.


By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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SIXTH UNFC-GOVERNMENT MEETING: "Is the glass half empty or half full?"



Again, the official sixth meeting between the United Nationalities Federal Council's (UNFC) Delegation for Political Dialogue (DPN) and the government's Peace Commission (PC) held from August 10 to 11, wasn't able to produce an all encompassing agreement for the former to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). But accordingly four from the eight-point UNFC's proposal to be added to the NCA were tentatively agreed with the rest four points to be still discussed and agreed upon at the forthcoming seventh official meeting that should take place in September.

Reportedly, the four agreed points were said to be from 1 to 4 and the points from 5 to 8 would be thrashed out in the upcoming September official seventh meeting after the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) and government  have consulted their respective leadership in details.

Although there has been a little confusion as to whether the UNFC amendment proposal to the NCA is 8 or 9 points, the reality is just 8, as the point number 9 merely said that “As soon as the above said points are in agreement, the NCA would be signed.”

To refresh our memories let us again look at the said 8-point UNFC amendment proposal. They are:

1.    Bilateral ceasefire agreement between the government-military and the UNFC;
2.    To build a federal union with result achieved from 21st Century Panglong Conference (21CPC);
3.    Agreement of tripartite dialogue composition;
4.    Drafting and promulgation of constitutional law based on the outcome of 21CPC;
5.    Advance agreement on Military Codes of Conduct (CoC) and monitoring on Terms of Reference (ToR);
6.    Formation of military Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) with representatives from government, EAOs and international figures acceptable to both parties;
7.    Formation of a neutral, enforcement tribunal for NCA involving domestic and international law experts and judges that are acceptable to both parties; and
8.    Developmental projects to be tackled according to Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), in cooperation with the public and the EAOs. (Source: UNFC Documentation)
Naturally, hopes were high for the government and as well the UNFC negotiators as half of the UNFC proposal could be agreed upon and that the enthusiastic optimism, especially from the government's side, that the other half would be easily overcome at the next meeting in September, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Khu Oo Reh, head of the DPN at the end of the meeting said: “I could say that we are getting extremely near to participate equally and seriously together in our works. As we are not in a position to decide all things on our own, we would like to request the citizens to have understanding on this.”

He probably meant to say that that the DPN has to consult with its leadership and also, the cooperation of the Tatmadaw is needed to implement the agreed points.

He went on to explain the nature of the peace process has to go step-by-step and that they are hoping to achieve peace as soon as possible through mutual cooperation by all stakeholders.

Earlier on the eve of the sixth official meeting, Khu Oo Reh, regarding the UNFC's proposal that if some of the points are not in agreement, it should be construed as there is no agreement, stressed: “We heard what the media are reporting. Some said there are two, three or one point left (to agree). No matter how points are left to be discussed, even if one is left it is like all the eight points are not in agreement.”

It seems Khu Oo Reh has taken a leaf out of the Geneva Accords of 24 November 2013 between Iran and 5+1 Powers regarding the nuclear case of Iran, where the reference to the phrase “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, was made at the beginning and the end of the document and since then becoming a standard usage in all earnest treaty deliberations.

Tun Zaw, secretary of Arakan National Council (ANC) and member of the UNFC's DPN also echoed the same sentiment regarding the four points agreement of the UNFC's proposal, he said: “Only if all eight points are thrashed out we could reach the stage of signing (the NCA) and still need to try and labor more on it,” according to the interview by Mon News Agency of August 12.

He also make a point that the Tatmadaw or the Military has no interest, “political will” and advancing the closely connected “trust-building” whatsoever. He further said that the National League for Democracy (NLD) regime is enthusiastic and has full commitment for political settlement but the Tatmadaw is still clinging to the old institutional mechanism that it has represented for decades.

The government spokesperson Zaw Htay just merely confirmed the meeting's progress saying: “Half of the points were generally agreed upon as a result of the sixth round of talks. Discussion concerning the other half must be presented to the leaders of both sides for a final decision.”

Chair of the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center Tin Myo Win said he, “hope[s] for a pathway through the peace process to appear, by fulfilling the points of the discussions with UNFC as much as we can after presenting to the government,” reported The Irrawaddy on August 11.

“If we can pass this point, the peace process will not stop or move backwards. It will keep going forward, toward peace,” he added.

Outlook and Perspective

Regardless of the prevailing optimistic view that the remaining four points of UNFC proposal could be thrashed out leading to the signing of the NCA, lack of political will and trust-building from the part of the Tatmadaw might hinder real progress on the ground, as Tun Zaw has correctly pointed out.

With this in mind, let us look at the issues tied to the UNFC's NCA amendment proposal of bilateral ceasefire; establishment of a federal union; tripartite composition; constitutional amendment; international involvement in JMC; formation of a neutral, mediation and enforcement tribunal for dispute arising from NCA implementation; and resources management.

Bilateral ceasefire is, in fact, not just between the Tatmadaw and the UNFC, as the former meant to say that ceasefire with only the NCA signatory EAOs, while the latter understood it to be nationwide declaration of ceasefire, implying that every corner of the country must be covered by the ceasefire agreement.

Concerning the establishment of a federal union with the result or outcomes from 21CPC, the Tatmadaw notion of federalism is tied to its self-drawn 2008 constitution which is neither federal nor democratic.

The tripartite composition participation mode at all level of political negotiations, so far as the UNFC is concerned, would be: government, Tatmadaw, parliament; EAOs; and political parties. The previous participation in Union Peace Conference (UPC) – now renamed  Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglon (UPC-21CP) – were counted seven parties with 700 participants. It is still not clear if the Tatmadaw and the government have agreed to the UNFC's mode of composition.

Constitutional amendment, actually rewriting anew by making use of the outcomes from 21CPC, would be accepted by the Tatmadaw is unclear, as it always maintain that it would protect the military-drafted 2008 constitution, which is in no way a federalism, with all its might.

The CoC, ToR and troops relocation still could not be completed and some already formed state-level JMC were unable to stop the ceasefire breakdown happening very often between the NCA signatory Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Tatmadaw.

International involvement in the JMC and NCA mediation-enforcement roles have always been rejected by the Tatmadaw, arguing that it is a problem between  brethren and outsiders should not be involved,  and is highly unlikely this proposal could sail through easily, even though a clause in the NCA doesn't rule out such an arrangement.

Indeed, in the NCA a paragraph 12(c), signed between the 8 EAOs and the government on 15 October 2015,  said: “We shall jointly decide on the basis of mutual agreement, the role of representatives from foreign governments and international organizations that are involved in the ongoing peace process, either as observers, advisors or to provide necessary technical assistance at different levels of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee.”

As for the resources management, including international humanitarian aids to be administered in cooperation between the concerned EAOs of the area and the government, with the consent of the people could be easily ironed out, if all the other proposal points could be worked out.

To sum up, the above mentioned points have to be adjusted and agreed upon if the UNFC is to sign the NCA and eventually participate in the next upcoming 21CPC. It won't do just to repeatedly push for the UNFC to sign the NCA without accommodating its proposal.

Thus, it would do all parties good if there could be a compromise on the UNFC proposal in the upcoming seventh official meeting, as this would demonstrate a desire to be equal and stimulate trust-building that has been in deficit all along. This, in turn, could even encourage the Panghsang alliance or Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) to rethink its policy of only to meet the government as a group and not separately.


At the end of the day, it will all depend on if the NLD and the Tatmadaw would be able to communicate on the same wavelength, especially where all-inclusiveness, national reconciliation, achieving and instilling peace for the benefit of the people and country are concerned. 


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Commentary on “Is the Tatmadaw toughening up on the peace process?”



In addition to the Military or Tatmadaw's interference in blocking the meeting of Shan groups, under the banner of Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), in Chiang Mai and issuing a statement banning other organisations from using military ranks, military representative colonel Aung Myint Oo told the "Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition," on August 12, that the military has to be under the civilian government is a foreign, Western concept and not appropriate for the country like Burma, according to the BBC report.


Besides, the heightened offensives in Kachin and Shan States and reinforcement in Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army's (RCSS/SSA) operational areas, which is a signatory of the NCA that has been clashing with the Military on and off, despite ceasefire agreement and participation in the 21st Century Panglong Conference, could be an indication that the Military might be banking on the military solution rather than political negotiation.

If this is really going to be the case and the indications are pointing to the escalation of ethnic conflict, there is not much hope that the 21st Century Panglong Conference could bring about the national reconciliation, peace and the establishment of a genuine federal union that the people has been waiting for so long, no matter how much the NLD would like to accommodate the said people's aspirations.

Link to the story: Is the Tatmadaw toughening up on the peace process?


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Namhsan villagers flee as clashes continue between TNLA and Burmese army



More than 200 civilians in northern Shan State’s Namhsan Township fled their homes this week due to ongoing hostilities between Burma’s armed forces and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), according to a local aid worker.


Sai Ba Nyan, the vice-chairman of the local aid committee in Namtu Township, east of Namhsan, said that 242 people from 68 households abandoned their homes and fled two days ago. Most of them are children and the elderly.

“They are now sheltering in Pokparyong temple in Namtu,” he said. “We are helping as best we can, but it can only be a short-term solution. If the fighting continues and they cannot return home, we will need to rely on help from aid groups.”

According to an August 8 report by the TNLA’s News and Information Department, a clash broke out earlier this week between the TNLA’s battalion 919 and Burmese army division 77 in Khur Khuen village tract in Namhsan Township.

In May, more than 300 residents in Namtu Township fled their homes due to a series of clashes between Burmese government forces and the TNLA.

Clashes between the Burmese army, the TNLA and the Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) are regularly reported in this area.

The TNLA was among six armed groups excluded from signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in 2015 with the then ruling government led by President Thein Sein.

Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)



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4 infected with H1N1 in Taunggyi, 3 under observation



Four people in Shan State capital Taunggyi have been confirmed infected with the H1N1 virus, while three others are under observation, according to the deputy of Shan State’s Public Health Department.
Dr. Sai Zaw Win Hlaing, deputy of Shan State’s Public Health Department, Taunggyi Township.
Dr. Sai Zaw Win Hlaing said that four swine flu victims have been identified: a three-year-old girl from Paya Phyu tract of Taunggyi Township; and a five-year-old girl, a 37-year-old man, and a pregnant woman, aged 27, all from Heho Township.
“The two girls and the woman are being treated at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The man is receiving treatment at Sao Jarm Tun Hospital,” he said. “The other three patients are undergoing tests.”
In late July, two patients were diagnosed with H1N1 at a military hospital in eastern Shan State’s Kengtung Township.
By July 21, the Ministry of Health and Sport said, 17 persons had died from swine flu across Burma, while 166 people had tested positively to the virus. Currently, the government said, more than 400 persons are undergoing tests throughout the country.

Since 2009, swine flu, also known as A (H1N1), has been among the strains of influenza that have spread in Burma during a global pandemic. However, until this year no deaths had been reported.
Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) 


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Discussion on Myanmar Democratic Transition with comparative analysis of global examples



When we think of the current political aspect of the country, the most important obligation for the incumbent government elected by the people is to fulfill the people’s desires and necessities. International circle in addition to the people of Myanmar are watching the transitional measures struggled by the incumbent government amidst the insufficiencies and slew of requirements in every front. The Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition will be held at Myanmar International Convention Center 2 (MICC2) in Nay Pyi Taw from 11-13 August to discuss the matters concerning with the government’s successful deal on difficulties and snags encountered during one and half year of their reign, challenges in transition and review of the past works for future program. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver the opening speech at the forum, it is learnt.


Headings For Discussion

The headings for discussion in the forum is found to be the crucial ones for the transition. The propositions and exchange of views by speakers on each heading will be able to captivate the audience and some important points will be generated for further programs of transition. There are 6 headings for discussion in this forum, it is learnt. The headings are as follows:

1. Assessment with global view on the political transitions
2. Transition from military governance to civilian governance
3. Transition from centralized economy to market economy
4. Military and Civilian relationship
5. The role of media in democratic transition
6. The present situation or position in transitional process

According to the headings the past experiences of overcoming the difficulties in transitional process, requirements to be fulfilled, present setbacks and preparatory works for the future will be known to all participants and audience. The desires of the people and the extent of transition will also be revealed from the forum.

Who will participate in discussion

In the 3 day-forum 13 foreign professionals, 24 local intelligentsias, representatives from 3 pillars and foreign Ambassadors will take part in the forum. Among the external professionals, Mr. Michael Vatikiotis, a writer who wrote the books on transition and is the expert in theory of transition and Lt. General Agus Widjojo who has got wide own experience in transition of Indonesia.

Among other participants are Prof. Dr Aurel Croisannt, Prof. Dr Andreas Oberheitman who will discuss the transition from centralized economy to market economy, Mr. Christophoros Politis who will discuss the relationship between military and civil institutions, Director General of Information Department of Srilanka, Mr. ranga Kalansooriya, Mrs. Dunja Mijatovic, Mr. Kavi Chongkittavorn and Ms. Isabella Kurlowski who will discuss the role of media in transition.

Local participants are National Security Advisor U Thaung Tun, Deputy Minister U Aung Htoo, Deputy Minister U Set Aung, and Members of Parliament U Lwin Ko Latt, U Pyone Cho, U Phyo, U Zayar Thaw, U Aung Kyi Nyunt, Daw Zin Mar Aung, Col. Aung Myint Oo, U Aung Kyi, Dr Hlan Hmon Sar Khaung, U Kyaw Lin Oo, U Lay Nyunt, Dr Than Myint Oo, U Thein Wai, Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo, U Myo Myint, Dr Thein Swe, U Aye Maung Kyaw, Daw Janan Larhtaw, U Aung Hla Tun, U Tin Maung Than, U Soe Myint and Daw Thin Thin Aung.

In what way they are discussing

The way to discuss in this forum is so arranged as to bring out the assessment on real situation, suggestions for transition, approach to transition from different angles and the experience of transition from other countries. Furthermore, the arrangement can also bring in the experts who are well- versed with theory of democratic transition and also the professionals who had their own experience in transition. The arrangement also includes discussion with exchange of views on all 6 headings made by local professionals from each pillar. Final session of the seminar will see the conclusions and result on each heading after thorough discussion among the participants.

Attendants

Responsible personnel from Hluttaw, personnel from the departments of the ministries, Chief Ministers and Ministers of Region/State, Ambassadors from foreign Embassies, Myanmar-based international organizations, local social organisations, internal/external media and 100 observers, total 450 persons will attend the forum.

The road of Transition

People, government, institutional pillars and various organisations are now marching together on the road of transition and their stances, policies, ways of approach will be taken into discussion in this forum with deliberation on present situation, setbacks of the past and aspiration for future. Now our country could have shown the world that Myanmar could transform to a democratic country but with different underlying conditions from others. Therefore, this transformation may be called a new form deviated in some ways from others in the world. The participants from local and abroad will take part in discussion in this forum with analytical comparison with the transition of other countries.

Degree of Transition

The transition in present Myanmar is so replete with high expectations and aspirations of the people that the other countries become interested in Myanmar. The present forum is expected to find out the solutions to the problems and challenges encountered in the way of transition in which the government has tried to meet the desires of the people who conferred the mandate to change the country by voting.

In other words, It is expected the discussion and assessment on the present transition with global overview in this 3-days Forum will beef up the momentum of the democratic transition of the country and in some ways will contribute to the successful democratic transition of Myanmar.


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