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Showing posts from November, 2018

Myanmar's press freedom mirage

Note: This article was first published on 20 November 2018 at The Interpreter here . It has been a bad year for press freedom across Southeast Asia. Myanmar has been no exception. Media freedom fell to new lows this month as a self-proclaimed anti-Rohingya supporter, American Rick Heizman, was  welcomed with open arms  in Myanmar. Heizman, a little-known musician and traveller to Myanmar, made an amateur film claiming Islam threatens to  is at risk of being overtaken by Islam. In September this year, Heizman's video was forwarded by the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a range of United Nations agencies based in Myanmar. Among his claims, Heizman argues that there should be no repatriation of the Rohingya to Rakhine State. Heizman's rants have attracted the attention of Facebook who first deleted some posts and now has suspended his account, as has Twitter. This month, Heizman claims he was able to travel freely in northern Rakhine State to report on sit

Elections a sham in Rakhine State

Note: This article was first published here at The Interpreter (Lowy Institute) on 1 November 2018 People go to the polls on Saturday in Myanmar, or at least some of them do. On 3 November 2018, the Union Election Commission will coordinate by-elections across 13 electorates. Most are to fill seats from vacancies due to deaths of senior members of parliament. There are two reasons these elections should be on the agenda of human rights advocates. No vote for the Rohingya The first reason is that, like the historic 2015 elections, the Rohingya will not be permitted to vote. This is a break with past political practise. How did this occur? There are some countries where the right to vote is permitted for non-citizen residents, allowing them voice in the political community. Myanmar was once one of them. From 2010 to 2015, the law in Myanmar permitted citizens, associate citizens, naturalized citizens and ‘other persons’ eligible according to the law to vo