Myanmar in the News: Doubts About Democracy, Peace Talks and More

by Admin on February 21, 2013

Myanmar Holds Peace Talks

Myanmar authorities held peace talks with ethnic resistance movements last week in Chiang Mai, hoping to iron out a solution to six decades of conflict.

In a joint statement released after the political dialogue, the two sides said “they had established trust for the dialogue and promised to have a second round of talks in two months.” The dialogue also resulted in a timeline and framework for continued peace talks.

Kachin rebels held peace talks earlier this month with the Chinese government, with the aim of reaching a “cease-fire” following intense fighting in northern Myanmar.  The dialogue focused on building trust between the two groups with an emphasis on working together with political and civil organizations.

Myanmar Offers Visas to Journalist 

Myanmar is now offering a three-month visa to journalists, which would also give them access to all parts of the country without prior permission. In the past, journalists would enter the country under the guise of tourists, and faced strict censorship and scrutiny when reporting on controversial issues.

The initiative is one of many media reforms led by President Thein Sein. Recently, Thein Sein passed legislation that would allow publications to go to print without having their work reviewed by a censorship panel. In addition, privately owned newspapers were given the ability to print daily, a privilege granted to only military-owned papers in the past.

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Myanmar’s Move to “Democracy” Doubted

Myanmar continues to push through these reforms and legislation that demonstrate the country is ready for democracy. From dissolving its media censorship panel to passing legislation meant to encourage foreign investment, Myanmar bares less and less of a semblance to its military junta past.

Yet, the conflict in Kachin State continues. Myanmar police are accused of using incendiary weapons on peaceful copper-mine protesters. Throughout the country, we see steps taken backward. Some doubt whether the “democracy” in Myanmar is real.

President Thein Sein recently appointed more military officials to a government supposedly moving away from its military-led past. Thein Sein appointed “two more former generals to his cabinet, picking the country’s air force commander to head the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, while a senior army officer will take over the Border Affairs Ministry.”

Apparently, it’s a democratic principle to appoint active and retired military officials to government posts they have little experience in.

 

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