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Aung San Suu Kyi – battered but not bruised over Rhakine crisis

Tim Newton

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ASEAN is expressing ‘solidarity’ with the elected defacto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her efforts to “promote humanitarian assistance to ease tensions and conflict in Rakhine state.” Leaders at APEC are officially supporting the civilian leader rather than issuing a sterner rebuke over her country’s handling of the Rohingya crisis.

Meanwhile Myanmar’s army has acquitted itself after an internal enquiry into any wrongdoing against Rhakine State Muslims (Rohingya) somehow ignoring the many independent reports coming out of the west of Myanmar after August 25 – the date the Tatmadaw Army moved in to ‘control’ violence allegedly initiated by the Arakan Army.

To date, at least 615,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the north-western border from Myanmar into Bangladesh. Their stories of violence, rape and the destruction of villages by soldiers from the Myanmar Army have filled the world’s headlines but are being called out by Burmese authorities as ‘exaggerations’ and ‘false reporting’ following their internal review.

In the report released yesterday, Myanmar’s military lays the blame for the violence on members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a Rohingya militant group, which it says in the report attacked 30 police and an army battalion headquarters post on August 25. According to the report, the actions of soldiers from the Myanmar Army were in ‘self defence’.

According to a story on CNN, the report states, ”Security forces did not commit shooting at innocent villagers and sexual violence and rape cases against women. They did not arrest, beat and kill the villagers.” The report also clears security forces of robbing Rohingya as well as burning their mosques, villages and homes.

Back at APEC 2017, a meeting of the Asia Pacific leaders, Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he is “very concerned” about the humanitarian crisis in Rhakine State. As leader of the world’s largest Muslim country, his support for the Muslim Rohingya is expected, whilst restraining his stronger condemnation of the Myanmar Government and their tacit support for soldiers in their army. Malaysia’s delegation has also strongly condemned the Myanmar Army’s action in Rhakine State in discussions with reporters but not in official APEC missives.

Jakarta is expecting urgent talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar to progress repatriation of the refugees, hoping to have concrete actions implemented soon. AFP are reporting that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is poised to visit Myanmar to discuss the matter in coming days.

Prior to APEC, and in media briefings away from the main stage of the APEC meeting in The Philippines, leaders continue to share their harsh criticism against Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader Suu Kyi and her handling of the Rohingya situation. The Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is reported to have had a 10-minute corridor meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, but the details of their conversation have not been made public. In the past Thailand has sided with Myanmar, referring to the Rohingya as ‘Bengalis’, making plain their agreement with successive Burmese governments that the minority are not indigenous to Myanmar. (Thailand’s military governments have usually been in support of the neighbouring Myanmar military-led governments in the past).

Aung San Suu Kyi will walk away from this year’s APEC battered but not bruised over her handling of the Rohingya crisis. Meanwhile efforts from refugee and aid groups continue in full swing to assist the 600,000+ refugees as they languish in hastily constructed camps on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. ASEAN, officially, continues to turn a blind eye and struggles to maintain local political composure over the issue.

PHOTOS: Voice of America

- Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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National

Thailand’s Rabies death toll up to 14 this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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The death of a 19 year old in Buri Ram, to the east of Bangkok on the Cambodian border,  and a 55 year old in Rayong, east of Pattaya, has raised the death toll in Thailand as a result of Rabies this year to 14. Both deaths occurred over the past two weeks.

Dr Suwannachai Watanayingcharoen, director general of the Disease Control Department, says a 19 year old man in Buri Ram, who’d been bitten back in April on the shoulder and chest by a dog, was not vaccinated against rabies.

The same situation with a 55-year-old woman in Rayong, bitten by a stray dog in January, who opted for “magical” treatment from a practitioner of traditional folk medicine rather than go to hospital.

Suwannachai says the two people had died of rabies this year in Buri Ram, two in Rayong and one each in Surin, Songkhla, Trang, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phatthalung, Nong Khai, Yasothon, Kalasin and Mukdahan.

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Same-sex civil union bill ready for Cabinet in two months

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A same-sex civil partnership law should be drafted and discussed before next year’s elections.

Pitikarn Sitthidech, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief, saystThe law, allowing same-sex couples to formally register as life partners, should be drafted by September.

It would then be submitted to Deputy PM and Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, who would decide whether it should go to the Cabinet, she said.

Pitikarn says the sub-panel drafting the legislation that’s been hailed by some as a progressive step towards the legalisation of gay marriage would meet on July 25 to review its 63 articles. Panel members were likely to make adjustments, she said, some based on the experiences of other countries that have adopted similar legislation, such as Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Britain.


Pitikarn Sitthidech – Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief 

The bill will then be forwarded to the Rights Department’s law development committee for further tweaking in September, and then to Prajin, Pitikarn said. She pointed out that the process in some countries had taken up to 10 years, but Prajin wanted to fast-track Thailand’s version because of the many LGBT (lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual) citizens who deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Pitikarn said Prajin had insisted that the authors of the legislation understand the situation in society well and the sensitivities involved. He wanted guidelines set out to support the status of same-sex life partners registered in other countries who were now living in Thailand to ensure they enjoyed the rights to which they were entitled.

Prajin wanted it made clear which agency would handle registrations once the law comes into effect. And he expects the law to lay the foundation for the legalisation of gay marriage.

“Since the ministry began moving forward on this law, we have received good feedback from the LGBT community and a 60,000-name petition expressing support for the action, as well as much useful information,” Pitikarn said.

“I believe many more people are passively supporting this law – the many who haven’t yet expressed their LGBT status.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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The Thaiger

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