Latest stories from Quick Reads + Myanmar (Burma)
Built 120 years ago, the Musmeah Yeshua synagogue in Yangon is the last remaining Jewish synagogue in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it is also listed as an archaeological heritage building in the city.
Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, concluded his mission by assessing the country's democratic transition:
For the time being, the military retains a prevailing role in the life and institutions of Myanmar. State institutions in general remain unaccountable and the judiciary is not yet functioning as an independent branch of Government. Moreover, the rule of law cannot yet be said to exist in Myanmar.
He also talked aboout the challenges facing the media sector:
I met journalists who described a prevailing climate of uncertainty and fear of arrest, particularly if reporting dealt with issues too close to the interests of the military or other powerful elites.
Like a visual postcard, the short video A handful of Myanmar by Berta upe Tilmantaitė invites its viewers to marvel at the wonders of the Southeast Asian country. Reid Willis‘ music replaces the natural sounds of the place, as rhythm and tempo adapt to the flow of the rivers and the laughter of young monks.
The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development has published a policy briefer that tackled the extent of human trafficking in Southeast Asia.
Many Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of a lot of the world's supply chains, including for food, garments, and technology. Yet few countries in the region have adequate laws for addressing corporate responsibility for human trafficking, including in their supply chains.
The primer also provides country-specific recommendations on how to best address the human trafficking issue in the region
Jefry Tupas analyzed some of the issues that affect Myanmar's Internet sector. He cited the high costs of acquiring telephone handsets, SIM cards, and Internet connection in the country. He also wrote about the social and economic impact of the slow Internet speed which is believed to be controlled by the government. There is an easing of media regulation but the lingering effect of censorship is still felt and indirectly enforced.
Aung Zaw, the founding editor in chief of the Irrawaddy magazine, recalls the historic 1988 student uprising in Myanmar:
As a student at that time, I can clearly remember the exhilaration of knowing that the entire nation was behind us, that we could not possibly lose.
He issues this challenge to Myanmar citizens:
Only by continuing to resist the forces of ignorance and brutality will we be able to win the war on students, and on the minds of all Myanmar citizens.
SQUAR is Myanmar’s first Burmese-language social networking site. The Irrawaddy interviews Rita Nguyen who is overwhelmed by the support of Myanmar netizens:
…even if Burmese were online, there was really no destination that belonged to them, built for and by them.
Faine Greenwood writes about the first Internet freedom forum in Myanmar and the challenges facing the IT community:
The event revealed optimism about opportunities for a newly connected society, even as bloggers and observers expressed uncertainty about growing tension between a desire for openness and a need for stability in the face of sectarian conflict.
dawn_1o9, a young Burmese blogger, expresses her disappointment over the reported cases of violence between Buddhists and Muslims in some parts of Myanmar:
I'm a Buddhist. I'm a Burmese living in Myanmar. But I just don't have anything against the Muslims living in Myanmar….what makes me a true Buddhist is not to boycott or hate Muslims – it is believing in peaceful co-existence and living my life to the fullest, helping people, no matter what their religions are.
Artist and former political detainee Htein Lin talks to Art Radar Asia and discusses Myanmar's current art scene and politics:
For visual art exhibitions, there are still some censors. Some artists [have stopped] inviting the censors from the Information Ministry, so now there are some art exhibitions without censorship but some art galleries keep inviting them. I am disappointed that they are still doing this.
The Irrawaddy interviews Ye Htet Oo who has launched four mobile libraries in Myanmar. To avoid censorship and acquire license during the military regime, library owners pretended to operate bookstores. Aside from sharing his experience, Ye Htet Oo also discussed the reading culture in Myanmar.
Great news for mobile phone users in Myanmar. Authorities from different divisions and states will start selling[my] mobile SIM cards for CDMA and WCDMA network at only 1500 kyats or about 2 US Dollars. Just five years ago, a SIM card in Myanmar could cost more than $2000.
Ei Ei Su writes about the history of Myanmar's movie industry beginning with the country's first silent film in 1920, up to the 1940s when the industry was producing about 400 films, until the army takeover in 1962.
Democratic Voice of Burma or DVB, which has been broadcasting news about the democracy movement in Myanmar from its head office in Oslo for more than 21 years, has announced its plan to return to Myanmar soon. The group said recent reforms in the country has allowed its “former underground reporters in the country (to) get official press accreditation” from the government.
A group of young programmers in Myanmar launched the country's first ever crowdsourced news site called “Buzz in Myanmar“. With the slogan “News for people, by people”, netizens are allowed and encouraged to submit neighborhood and other local news.
Many Burmese netizens requested[my] the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information who met with Google's Southeast Asia Country lead for Public Policy and Government Affairs to convince the company not to block Google Play in Myanmar and to put Burmese (Myanmar) language in Google Translate.
At over 6,400 participants on January 19 and 20 this year, BarcampYangon not only dwarfs every barcamp in the region but even exceeds last year’s number by over one thousand attendees. Myanmar is now the envy of every barcamper in Asia.
Anh-Minh Do reviews Barcamp Yangon 2013 in Myanmar.
Burma has experienced a lot of political and social turbulence throughout the past year. Like a dilapidated taxi driving in torrential rain, the country is still moving forward but things looks risky. We can only hope that 2013 sees better weather ahead.
Writing for The Irrawaddy, Kyaw Zwa Moe reviews the most significant events in Myanmar in the past 12 months.
altsean uploads the English translation of the full text of Myanmar's Foreign Investment Law which was approved by the government last month. The law which provides tax breaks, land leasing agreements, and opportunities for joint business ventures, was welcomed by many investors.
China Digital Times has put together news story of the crackdown of a protest against Chinese-owned copper mine in Monywa, Myanmar. Chinese state-controlled media outlet depicts the protest as the adverse effect of Myanmar’s democratic reforms.
Myanmar is set to release 452 prisoners today, November 15, 2012. The amnesty was announced by the government which could be an act of political goodwill in light of the anticipated state visit by United States President Barack Obama to Myanmar. The government also released prisoners when President Thein Sein visited the U.S. two months ago.