Blast during Myitkyina Water Festival

The sound of a loud explosion rocked the Burma’s northern Kachin state capital of Myitkyina on Saturday evening.  The blast occurred at about 9 pm while party goers were enjoying concerts as part of Burmese Water Festival known as Thingyan.

According to witnesses, the blast appeared to come from the downtown area but it is unclear what damage has occurred or if anybody what was injured.

Following the incident the concert stopped and most of the audience quickly returned to their homes.


Since fighting broke out last June between the Burma army and the Kachin Independence Organization, the Kachin capital has seen several lethal explosions.  Following the previous incidents Burmese government authorities and state media have been quick to blame the KIO which has strongly denied any involvement in attacks on civilian areas.

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Burma:Australien Foreignminister media release: easing autonomous sanctions and normalising trade.

16 April 2012

The Australian Government is supporting the democratic transition underway in Burma by easing autonomous sanctions and normalising trade.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Trade Minister Craig Emerson said today the Australian Government, along with the international community, warmly welcomed the changes currently underway in Burma.

“Reducing our sanctions and encouraging trade recognise the far-reaching political, economic and social reforms we are witnessing in Burma in recent times,” Senator Carr said.

“It is incumbent upon us now to support Burma in practical ways and seek greater engagement that will encourage these reforms to take root and sustain the conditions for further change to improve the lives of the Burmese people.”

The Ministers acknowledged the role of President Thein Sein and the Burmese Government in delivering change, including through the release of over 500 political prisoners, progress toward peace with ethnic groups, and new laws that provide for greater freedom of expression and assembly, labour rights and political participation.

The sanctions adjustment will reduce the number of people subject to Australia’s financial sanctions and travel restrictions from 392 to about 130 individuals.

Civilians, including the President and other reformists within the Government and Parliament, will be removed from the list, while serving military figures and individuals of human rights concern will remain. Australia will also retain its arms embargo.

“We will continue to encourage the Burmese Government to continue down the path of reform, including by granting full political freedoms and reconciling with ethnic groups,” Senator Carr said.

Dr Emerson said Australia would also discontinue its policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging trade nor investment with Burma.

“I welcome the opportunities that normalised trade ties will present for the Burmese people and Australian companies,” he said.

“Increased trade and investment will help support the reform process in Burma, as well as enhance the economic prospects of ordinary Burmese.”

Burma.Myanmar Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre Foreign policy address to the Storting

(Myanmar)   14 February 2012

I would now like to turn eastwards to the Indian Ocean area, which, according to US writer Robert Kaplan, will be the centre of global change and international politics in the coming decades. There is now reason to hope that a brighter future is within reach for Myanmar, or Burma, which – with its long coastline and strategic location between India, China and Thailand – is an important country in this region.

The country has undergone remarkable changes, in a short space of time and in part unexpectedly. The release of several hundred political prisoners, Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, her and the National League for Democracy’s decision to stand in the by-election in April, the clear steps towards freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, the revision of labour legislation in accordance with ILO requirements – all this adds up to unprecedented progress. So, we might add, do the ceasefires in several of the current and protracted conflicts with ethnic groups in the country. Continue reading “Burma.Myanmar Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre Foreign policy address to the Storting”

G8 Foreign Ministers statement on Myanmar (Burma)

13 April 2012 The Ministers welcomed recent positive developments in Burma/Myanmar, including the April 1 parliamentary by-election, and other significant steps the Government of Burma/Myanmar has taken toward democratic reform and national reconciliation. They underlined their readiness to assist Burma/Myanmar in advancing reforms and stressed the need for the international community to support these efforts. The Ministers praised the opportunity for all opposition parties, including the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to participate in the electoral process; progress toward preliminary ceasefires with armed ethnic groups; the release of a significant number of political prisoners; and measures to eliminate forced labor. The Ministers will consider the easing of sanctions to help this country embed reform and fully integrate into international and regional political and economic processes. At the same time, the Ministers called on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to continue reform and reconciliation efforts, and undertake the unconditional release of all remaining prisoners of conscience and the removal of legal conditions placed on those already released; further steps to end all violence in ethnic minority areas; providing unfettered international humanitarian access to conflict zones and internally displaced persons; and severing of military ties with North Korea, in accordance with Burma/Myanmar’s international obligations regarding non-proliferation.