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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Feb 10, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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China trade sinks rice target
Illegal trading means Myanmar is likely to meet barely half of its 3-million-tonne annual export target.
In Maungdaw, a fire still rages amid the ashes
 A devastating blaze and alleged clashes between security forces and Muslims which rights groups say left dozens killed and a policeman missing have once again pitted Maungdaw township’s Rakhine and Rohingya communities against each other.
This time, sorry will not be enough to heal the damage
ONE can only imagine President U Thein Sein’s response when informed of his rural development minister’s re-cent outburst in rural Magwe Region.  Was there anger? Incredulity? Exas-peration? We can reasonably assume it was a combination of all three – and more.For a government that bills itself as “people-centred”, U Ohn Myint has created a major problem. His com-ments on January 28 about govern-ment critics being thrown in jail were  bad enough. But it was his declaration that peo-ple in rural areas should simply accept  what he deigns to give them that they should put up and shut up – that is arguably most galling. It shows a complete and utter dis-regard for everything President U Thein Sein has set out to achieve in the second half of his five-year term: a government that is consultative, that is responsive, that shows respect for the people who put it in power.
Page 2 felicitates Hugo Swire
Minister of State for the UK Foreign Office Hugo Swire followed his recent visit to Myanmar by holding a brief Q&A session over Twitter last week, inviting people to pose questions using the hashtag #askFCO.
Predictably, Swire was slammed by people seeking answers to questions on myriad topics including ceasefire talks, IDP camp conditions, political prisoners, press freedom, returning refugees, human trafficking, rape as a weapon of war, ongoing reports of the Tatmadaw pushing an offensive line in Kachin, the upcoming census, the internal investigation into the alleged massacre in Maungdaw, the current parliamentary composition, Aung San Suu Kyi, constitutional amendment, the Rohingya, emissions transparency, military engagement, et al. Mr Swire, whose Twitter bio asserts his interest in “#digitaldiplomacy”, breezed his way through the session, offering responses that essentially amounted to a very British “I did raise that with them and we’re keeping an eye on it.” Still, it is impossible to give comprehensive answers in 140 characters. Perhaps some engagement is better than no engagement.
 From the mailbag…
The Myanmar Times
 Facebook inbox is a mixed bag. Sometimes we receive genuinely useful correspondence and feedback. A lot of the time it’s just spam. And sometimes, there are submissions that baffle me – and make my day. Last week, one particular highlight was a long-ranging poem about world peace, infused with a strong Rastafarian sentiment. Written all in caps, punctuated by exclamations of JAH! and referencing basically every city in the world, it begins, “TRUE DEMOCRACY NOT HIPOCRACY JAH BLESS.” To the man who wrote this: Erryting is irie. Don’t let babylon get you down.Also in the mailbag this week was a message from a concerned citizen asking if
The Myanmar Times
 could testify to the veracity of a report doing the rounds on social media in Bangladesh that Aung San Suu Kyi had converted to Islam. The offending article contained an ancient picture of Suu Kyi and had been poorly photoshopped to show her sporting a keffiyeh, with the BBC logo pasted underneath. To clarify: This report is false. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further questions.
 Street Lonely Hearts Club
Analysts say the Valentine’s Day speed-dating event to be held at Yangon stalwart 50
 Street bar is projected to further complicate matters in the already-incestuous expat community.
The event, promoted on the ever-smarmy Yangon Expat Community forum, offers punters the opportunity to speed-date their way through a room full of people they’ve probably already met, but with the fun twist of intense sexual pressure in a sealed pheromone-ridden sin pit. All this for a mere $20! As the ad on YEC asks darkly, “3 MINUTES TO IMPRESS...CAN YOU HANDLE THE PACE?” Starts at 7:30pm. Review to follow.
FEBRUARY 10 󰀭 16, 2014
Page 2
Marina for
 Photo: Pyay Han (ColorMax)
The local lowdown & best of the web
online editor
Kayleigh Long
Page 2
Dabaung issue of Oh We, March 1972 Staff at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo take part in the annual drill where animal escapes are simulated by zookeepers. (AFP)
 When Myanmar was Burma...
 Archival material provided by Pansodan Gallery
 Thomas Kean
THE first sight as you approach Maungdaw along a bumpy dirt road, after taking the daily ferry from Sit-twe to Buthidaung, is a “Welcome to Maungdaw” gateway erected in 2000. There are hints of trouble – the glass in its clock tower was cracked during violence in June 2012 and remains unrepaired; signboards in town carry messages such as “People can be safe if there is rule of law” and “Our town will be developed if there is peace and stability” – but for the most part Maungdaw appears peaceful. In reality, it has for many years  been torn between two very differ-ent – some would say irreconcilable – societies.In the nearby village of Du Chee  Yar Tan West, the ashes where homes once stood are testament to the extent of the conflict. More than a dozen homes were torched on January 28, 15 days after a policeman went miss-ing in the area. The flames have been extin-guished, but a fire of hatred and anxi-ety still burns.The Buddhist and Muslim com-munities now blame each other for the fire. Some have accused the police force of involvement; not only does the government deny this, but it has accused the Muslims of burning their own homes.“Police, ward administrators and ethnic Rakhines set fire our houses,” said Muslim Lailar Bacon, as he sifted through the remains of rice that was  burned in the fire.“All our staple foods – rice, oil and so on – were lost in the fire. Why  would we burn our own homes?Rakhine living near Du Chee Yar Tan expressed concern about the safety of their families and business-es, as well as access to education for their children – following last month’s  violence, teachers posted to schools in Rakhine villages ran away and schools remain closed.“We dare not go outside our vil-lage to catch frogs and crabs because the Bengalis are provoking us,” said U Tun Hla Aung from the Rakhine vil-lage of Khayay Myine. “At night they also destroyed the crops we had grown with loans from the bank because they know that if we can’t pay back the interest we will be arrested.” Locals – Rakhine locals, at least –are in no doubt as to the cause of the conflict. There are 381 villages in Maungdaw. Of those, 86 are Rakhine, Kathe and Hindu, while 288 are Mus-lim – Bengali or Rohingya, depending on your sympathies. Just seven are a mix of Rakhine and Muslim.State records put the Rakhine population at 21,355 and the Muslim population at 444,725. Muslim house-holds, at 51,241, outnumber Rakhine 10 to one.“Ninety-eight percent of popula-tion growth is among the Bengali population. Rakhine account for 1pc and civil servants another 1pc. The population gap is now very big,” said Maungdaw resident Ko Kyaw Kyaw Tun.“We are suffering the consequenc-es of poor border control,” he said.Rakhine residents frequently de-cry what they describe as a growing lawlessness in the township, typified  by the attack on a police patrol in Du Chee Yar Tan Middle village by a Mus-lim mob on January 13.The head of the patrol, Police Ser-geant Aung Kyaw Thein – along with his M20 gun – remains missing. “There is no rule of law in Maungdaw,” said Rakhine political activist and Maungdaw resident Ko  Win Thein. “Because there is no law and order, a policeman was killed and his weapon taken. The authori-ties couldn’t even resolve the case  yet. We feel like we are living in a rebel area.”  Authorities say they are doing their best to implement the law in dif-ficult circumstances.“There may have been some prob-lems with border control manage-ment but we are now carefully check-ing all border crossings,” said a senior officer from the state’s police force.In the case of the attack on Police Sergeant Aung Kyaw Thein, the au-thorities have issued arrest warrants for 27 people, said Police Colonel Nay Myo, the head of the Rakhine State Police Force.“Eleven of those are going to the other country to receive an award and the rest are hiding in the Ben-gali villages,” he said. “We’ve got a list of their names and taking steps so that they can be arrested as soon as possible.” But Rakhine residents say the au-thorities are fighting a losing battle.“If we stay in our village, we feel like we are just waiting for death,” said U Tun Hla Aung from Khayay Myine. “One day our village will dis-appear.”
– Translation by Thiri Min  Htun and Zar Zar Soe
In Maungdaw, a fire still rages
A Muslim boy stands beside burned homes in Maungdaw’s Du Chee Yar Tan West village on February 1.
Photo: Si Thu Lwin
A Muslim man holds burned rice in Du Chee Yar Tan West village.
Photo: Si Thu Lwin
Rohingya hluttaw rep questioned by police
UNION Solidarity and Development Party MP U Shwe Maung has been questioned by police in Nay Pyi Taw over comments he made to Demo-cratic Voice of Burma about possible police involvement in a fire that broke out in a Muslim village in Rakhine State late last month.More than a dozen homes were destroyed in the blaze at Du Chee Yar Tan West village near Maungdaw in northern Rakhine State on January 28.U Shwe Maung said the February 4 interrogation came at the behest of President U Thein Sein, who sent a letter to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann requesting per-mission for police to question the MP.The interview lasted about 90 minutes and was conducted at his USDP living quarters in Nay Pyi Taw. It focused on allegations that U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya, had defamed the state and police by saying that resi-dents believed security forces were involved in starting the fire.U Shwe Maung said he was asked to reveal the names and phone num- bers of those he received the informa-tion from. He agreed to give the infor-mation but only with the approval of Thura U Shwe Mann.The full video of his interview with DVB may also be produced as evi-dence in order to establish the broader context for his comments.U Shwe Maung told
 The Myan-mar Times
 on February 2 that he is normally cautious with his choice of  words.“I always censor myself so that I don’t violate any law and avoid words  which may confuse or mislead people. I always maintain and balance my  words to avoid any religious and eth-nic misunderstanding.” A January 29 statement issued by the Ministry of Information confirmed the police and fire officials had re-sponded to a fire in Du Chee Yar Tan  village at about 8:45pm the previous evening. Five “Bengalis” were seen running away from the fire, the state-ment said.“There is no Rakhine village near that village, and the neighbouring vil-lages are just Bengali villages. They ran away after setting fire to their houses,” it said.

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