Myanmar will hold National Dialogue for peace making throughout the country in the early 2014 with participation of all important stakeholders,said U Aung Min, vice chairman of the government's Central Peace Making Work Committee, at a ceremony on Saturday which falls on International Day of Peace.
The ceremony on Trust-building for Peace held in Taunggyi, capital of Myanmar's northeastern Shan State, was attended by more than 50 organizations including representatives from ethnic armed groups,political parties and civil organizations.
In a period of more than two years, some constructive foundations have been established despite existing conflicts between the government and some ethnic armed groups, said U Aung Min.
To successfully hold National Dialogue, two stages including National Ceasefire Accord/National Ceasefire Agreement and Framework for Political Dialogue are needed, he said.
He also disclosed that as the first stage, the National Ceasefire Accord/National Ceasefire Agreement is expected to be accomplished by the end of this October.
A total of 16 armed groups will be invited, he added.
The government is preparing to lay down "framework for political dialogue" with the participation of the government, army, parliament, nationalities, armed groups and political parties in November or December this year as the second stage, he said.
So far since Myanmar President U Thein Sein's peace offer was extended in August 2011, a total of 14 armed groups have signed preliminary peace agreements with the government at state or central level.
The government will continue holding peace talks with two remaining ethnic armed groups -- Kachin Independence Organization(KIO) and Palaung State Liberation Front(PSLF) or Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
In the early October this year, the Union-level peace talk will be held with KIO in Myitkyina to move toward a peace settlement after reaching seven-point agreement in the last talks in May,he said.
Meanwhile, at the ceremony on the International Day of Peace held in Yangon on Saturday, U Aung Min urged all the young people in the country to participate in peace making processes.
The president will establish National Youth Center for Myanmar youth, he said.
On the same day, hundreds of residents in Yangon staged peaceful march along some main roads on Saturday's morning to mark the International Peace Day.
The authorities have allowed the application on the peaceful walks and joined by some 60 peace-demanding civil organizations, said the organizers.
Myanmar has approved UNESCO's peace education project in northern Rakhine state reaffirming its commitment to promote peace education as a means of fostering mutual respect for cultural diversity at the school level, official sources said on Sunday.
The project is to be jointly implemented by the UNESCO and the government in three townships in the state --Maungtaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung with the fund support by the Belgium government.
Under the project, 350 teachers from 40 conflicted-affected schools will be trained in peace education and it will benefit 10, 000 students, the sources said.
The project also aims to reactivate 40 parent-teacher associations and set up three community learning centers, the sources added.
Following the recent communal violence in Rakhine state which has affected hundreds of schools and thousands of students, the government and international community have identified peace education as one of the priority to address underlying causes of the communal tension.
The overall aim of the peace education project is to enhance the capacity of schools teachers, students and their parents to facilitate inclusive problem-solving process and consensus- building around community priority and to strengthen the commitment to an inclusive civic national identity.
National League for Democracy (NLD) patron Tin Oo urged people to refrain from violence during a memorial speech to mark Win Maw Oo's 25th death anniversary on September 19.
The commemoration ceremony was organized by her parents at their residence in Hlaingthaya Township.
25 years ago, on September 19, 1988, Win Maw Oo a young schoolgirl was gunned down, along with Than Htay and Tin Htun from Middle School No. (4) in Kyimyindine Township during the military junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
U Tin Oo said, “The light of democracy has started to glow in Myanmar. I would like to urge all of your to refrain from violence. Many students have lost their lives due to violence. Win Mar Oo’s sacrifice is an important lesson for all of us.”
“Power hungry individuals in the country seized power by using violence, which is wrong. The horrifying incident in 1988 killed many young students protesting for democracy,” he added.
Win Maw Oo was holding a picture of Myanmar national hero Aung San when she was gunned down by the army at the corner of Sule Pagoda road and Merchant road, a day after the Myanmar army staged a military coup led by General Saw Maung on September 18, 1988.
Win Maw Oo’s father Win Kyu said, “I promised my daughter that I will not perform Ahmjawei – Buddhist tradition of reciting one's meritorious deeds – until Myanmar achieves democracy. We have not performed Ahmjawei in my daughter’s name for 25 years. We will do it only when the Constitution is amended.”
This is the first time that authorities of Hlaingthaya Township have granted permission to Win Maw Oo's parents to commemorate her death anniversary.
Khin Htay Win, Win Maw Oo’s mother said, “It will be good if authorities dedicate a place to those who died in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising so that we can commemorate their sacrifice in the same place every year.”
In spite of objections, the Yangon Division Parliament has approved MMK 2900 million to construct two new court buildings in Yangon at a parliamentary meeting held on September 18.
7 MPs, including Rakhine ethnic Minister U Zaw Aye Maung, raised objections against the construction of Yangon Eastern and Western High courts. They were out voted by a majority in the Division Parliament meeting.
U Zaw Aye Maung said, “If we look at development in the country, schools are collapsing in the education sector and we need to build more hospitals. I would like to have a discussion to consider if we really need these courts.”
Initially, MMK 900 million was allocated in the current fiscal year for the court buildings. The Division government requested for an additional MMK 2000 million, which was also approved.
“I saw that they have started construction last month but it is not even complete yet”, said U Zaw Aye Maung. He questioned, “Why did they ask for another MMK 2000 million when the MMK 450 million allocated initially for each court building is still untouched?”
Daw San San Nwe, the Division Minister of Finance explained that they have requested for MMK 2000 million more to make adjustments on the land for court offices, to fence the area and for electrical fittings in the planned 5 storied 200x140 feet court buildings, which will have facilities such as prison cells and waiting rooms for witnesses.
“This is beyond normal standards and I think it is unnatural”, opined divisional MP Dr. Nyo Nyo Thin on the two new court buildings.
“I have a question, do MPs have to approve everything that the government proposes?”, Dr. Nyo Nyo Thin questioned the parliamentary meeting.
Besides the funds for construction of court buildings, the Parliament has also approved MMK 59726.26 million for expenses requested by the Division government since the budget allocated for the current fiscal year is insufficient.
Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of Myanmar's National League for Democracy, will arrive in Singapore on Friday for a five-day visit, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
She will meet with Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. Goh will also host her to lunch at the Istana.
Suu Kyi will also meet with Halimah Yacob, who is speaker of parliament, and Grace Fu, minister in the Prime Minister's Office and second minister for environment and water resources and second minister for foreign affairs.
The democracy icon of Myanmar is now chair of the Lower House Committee for the Rule of Law, Peace and Tranquility.
She will also receive a briefing from the Economic Development Board, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Ministry of Education.
While in Singapore, she is also scheduled to deliver two speeches, one at the Singapore Summit on Sept. 21, and the other at a public lecture organized by the Singapore Management University on Sept. 22.
Singapore media has said earlier that one of the objectives of Suu Kyi's visit to Singapore will be to draw lessons from the growth story of the city state, as Myanmar is in the midst of political transition and national development.
She is also expected to reiterate her consistent political message that economic and political transitions must be complementary.
Suu Kyi has visited countries like the United States, France and Britain after her release from house arrest in 2010. This will be her first visit to Singapore and her second visit to an ASEAN neighbour. Suu Kyi visited Thailand in 2012.
New Zealand has opened its first embassy office in Myanmar in recognition of the Southeast Asian nation's political and economic reforms, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced Wednesday.
"This new office in Yangon reflects Myanmar's remarkable progress in implementing political and economic reforms over the past two years," McCully said in a statement.
"New Zealand has substantially increased its development assistance to Myanmar, with major commitments to dairy cooperation and capacity building. There is also considerable scope for New Zealand companies to invest," he said.
"The opening of this office comes as the region focuses its attention on Myanmar, which as the next chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, will host a number of ministerial and official level meetings throughout 2014, culminating in the East Asia Summit."
New Zealand has moved to normalize relations following reforms under the government of President Thein Sein, which has been in place since March 2011.
Myanmar is due to hold general elections in 2015.
In the year to the end of April, New Zealand exports to Myanmar were valued at around 22 million NZ dollars (18.12 million U.S. dollars), but the government believes Myanmar has potential to one day be a significant trading partner.
Senior monks who led Myanmar's "Saffron Revolution" appealed Wednesday for an end to religious violence in the former junta-ruled nation as they marked the sixth anniversary of the failed uprising.
"The path to democracy has just appeared. In order not to ruin it, we urge you to avoid ethnic and religious violence," senior cleric Sandar Siri said in a speech to about 100 monks and guests at a monastery in Yangon.
Religious violence -- mostly targeting Muslims -- has exposed deep rifts in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, casting a shadow over widely praised political reforms since military rule ended in 2011.
Around 250 people have been killed and more than 140,000 left homeless in several outbreaks of violence since June 2012.
Minority Muslims have also been the target of a nationalistic campaign led by some radical monks.
At least 31 people were killed and hundreds of monks were arrested in the 2007 uprising, which started as a protest against high fuel prices but snowballed into the biggest threat to Myanmar's former military rulers for nearly 20 years.
After sweeping changes under the reformist government of ex-general President Thein Sein, last year monks held the first rally to mark the protest anniversary.
"When we look at the situation in politics, the economy, social issues, education, health and in general, it is not true to say that nothing is changing... But there is no change that improves the lives of the people," Sandar Siri said.
He also called for a formal apology from the government for the bloody crackdown on the 2007 protests, which saw tens of thousands of monks take to the streets in their striking red robes.
United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Country Manager Jason Eligh told Mizzima that the UNODC will assist Myanmar government's efforts to transform the police force into a national public service body by providing 'technical and related programmatic assistance'.
They will also help raise the standard of the national police service and bring it on par with international standards.
“We will transform the police force into one that is grounded in international standards and principles of rights based law enforcement”, said Jason Eligh.
He added that the process to transform the police has been initiated by the Myanmar government already, as it is an important step in the national reform agenda.
“I think if we are realistic, we must look at the process of transformation taking many years. I think this is something the government recognizes as well”, he said in response to a query on how long the reform process would take.
Earlier, retired police officers had pointed out that the Myanmar police force lacked competence when it came to management and conflict resolution. They called for capacity building training for the police.
Ral Lian Hmung, Retired Police Col. said, “We need qualified and skilled policemen to resolve the issue. We also need authority too. So we need to train them in many courses. Some might have to undergo training in foreign countries. We also need a lot of manpower of skilled personnel who are aware of international standards and laws.”
He added that besides the urgent need for high caliber Myanmar police personnel there are other issues such as lack of job opportunities, promotions, good pay scale and facilities.
Mizzima has been trying to contact Police Brigadier Gen. Win Khaung in Naypyitaw for queries on capacity building training and reform work on the Myanmar police force since September 10. However, he was unreachable.
Furthermore, William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement informed journalists that the US will provide training on law enforcements to Myanmar police, at a meeting on September 7, in the US Embassy Yangon.
U Htay Oo, Vice Chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) told Mizzima on September 15 that the military shaped reforms and the current political situation of Myanmar.
“Our country is not fully stable yet and lately, the issues of military members have taken center-stage. We should keep in mind that it was the military that brought about reforms in the country. It is the military who built up the Parliament. Who has led to peace in the country? Politicians alone could not have achieved peac. Therefore, the military should be an integral part of Myanmar politics and administration”, said U Htay Oo.
He added that while amending constitutional laws, only laws on which foreign countries cannot yield any influence upon the Union’s solidarity and sovereignty will be welcomed.
“No one is going to be adversely affected by the presence of the military in the Parliament”, he continued.
“The military's primary role is to protect citizens and the country. They should stick to their role and so should the government”, said U Nan Yi, General Secretary of Kayan National Union Party, criticizing the presence of the military in the Parliament.