Vox Pop: Appraising the ULA statement on potential for sectarian conflict in Arakan State

DMG 24 Dec 2021

In a statement on December 17, the United League of Arakan (ULA) — the Arakan Army’s political wing — said that some townships in Arakan State had experienced a “series of extraordinary events” this month that it warned could lead to sectarian conflict. How do the different ethnic groups in Arakan State view the ULA’s statement? To find out, DMG interviewed people in Arakan State from both the Arakanese and Muslim communities, which have been in conflict in the past.

Vox Pop: Can students, teachers meet the challenges of a shortened academic year?

DMG 03 Dec 2021

Myanmar’s military regime has announced that basic education and Grade 10 students will sit their final exams in March and April of next year. Schools were temporarily closed in July due to the third wave of Covid-19, with students only returning to the classroom last month and facing a compressed academic calendar. DMG interviewed students, parents and teachers about the difficulties they are facing amid a tumultuous year. 

Western News Chief Editor: ‘We will continue to let the people know the truth’

DMG 25 Nov 2021

Reporters from Arakan State-based Western News went into hiding earlier this month after junta forces attempted to find the location of the news outlet’s office in Sittwe. DMG recently spoke to the chief editor of Western News, Wunna Khwar Nyo, about the incident and its implications for press freedom in Arakan State and beyond.

‘Honesty and love’ guide interfaith English lessons at monastic school in Mrauk-U

DMG 23 Nov 2021

DMG recently interviewed U Aung Khin, a Muslim teacher of English whose students attend classes at the Mratazaung monastic education school in Mrauk-U Township. The interfaith classroom dynamics are not to be taken for granted in Arakan State, where a history of sometimes fraught relations between Buddhists and Muslims is well documented. 

Vox Pop: Recent clash leaves Arakan State on edge 

DMG 13 Nov 2021

 

It had been about a year without hostilities between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army (AA) when the informal ceasefire appeared to crack on November 9, with the two sides clashing briefly in northern Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township. While tens of thousands of people internally displaced by the conflict (IDPs) have returned home since the fighting stopped in November 2020, many more remain displaced. By and large, they have viewed the relative peace of the past year with cautious optimism, but are still fearful of going back to their hometowns and villages for a variety of reasons. 

Vox Pop: ‘The new broadcast law amendments are about controlling the media industry’

DMG 07 Nov 2021

The junta’s State Administration Council (SAC) on November 1 promulgated the Second Amendment Law to the Television and Radio Broadcasting Law. For a variety of offences, the amended law stipulates harsher penalties, including prison sentences that did not exist under the previous iteration of the legislation. It also broadens the scope of the law’s remit so that its provisions can be applied to media made available via the internet or “any other technology”. DMG interviewed six media professionals about the recently amended law.

Lekka villager: ‘They will suffer just as we were tortured. The debt is repayable. I will never forget.’

DMG 25 Sep 2021

The Burmese soldiers told the visitors to get out of the crowd. After I got out of the crowd, the Burmese soldiers ordered me to stay in the hot sun for two or three hours. The Burmese soldiers tortured me many times, leaving me in the hot sun. Then, they tied my hands behind my back and a Burmese soldier asked me, ‘Did you see Arakan Army (AA) fighters entering the village?’ I replied that I had never seen Arakan Army fighters, and he said that I was lying. The Burmese soldier told me not to lie.  

Talking money matters as banks shutter for a week 

DMG 18 Aug 2021

The Central Bank of Myanmar has ordered that all banks in Myanmar suspend operations from August 16-22, the latest extension of a weeks-long public holiday period as part of the military regime’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. The public holidays have been announced week after week beginning in mid-July, but this week marks the first in which private banks have been included in the order.

Vox Pop: Should security checkpoint near Tatmadaw battalion in Mrauk-U be closed?

DMG 13 Aug 2021

Locals are questioning whether a security checkpoint near the 540th Infantry Battalion in Mrauk-U, which was set up during heavy fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in Arakan State, should be removed. Motorcyclists have to dismount at the checkpoint to undergo inspection, and locals complain that all car and van passengers have to register and provide the details of their destination, and when they will return. 

Vox Pop: Will oxygen plant operators accept control by Arakan State military council?

DMG 23 Jul 2021

U Hla Thein, information officer for the Arakan State Administration Council, wrote on his Facebook on July 22 that a decision was made at a meeting of the Arakan State military council to distribute oxygen produced by an oxygen generator in Mrauk-U to public hospitals in accordance with the local government’s policy. Some people have since criticised the statement on Facebook, over whether the military council rightfully controls the oxygen production in Mrauk-U. 

Bookmobile booster: ‘Sustaining mobile libraries depends on the community’

DMG 18 Jun 2021

A youth group in Sittwe pioneered the idea, opening a mobile library in the Arakan State capital last month. Since then, more bookmobiles have popped up in other Arakan State townships. With DMG being an unabashedly pro-reading organisation as well, we recently interviewed Ko Nyein Chan, a member of the Sittwe youth group, about their current activities and challenges to opening and sustaining mobile libraries.

Vox Pop: Could continuing arrests over AA ties reignite conflict in Arakan State?

DMG 08 Jun 2021

The recent arrest of seven Taungup Township youths, reportedly over alleged ties to the Arakan Army, served to highlight the legal ambiguity that surrounds the ethnic armed group, and raised anew questions about whether there are legal consequences for affiliating with it. After the military regime removed the Arakan Army from its list of terrorist groups in March, it was hoped that the dozens of court cases accusing defendants of illegal AA links would be dismissed, but acquittals and dropped charges have occurred in a piecemeal fashion to date.  

Vox Pop: Is a nighttime curfew in Arakan State necessary?

DMG 04 Jun 2021

The imposition of a nighttime curfew over recent days in some Arakan State townships has prompted questioning among locals, coming at a time when an informal ceasefire between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army has brought a peace to the region not seen in more than two years. DMG interviewed residents, civil society organisations and the Arakan State military council to glean their thoughts on the curfew orders, which have been applied selectively across Arakan State’s 17 townships.

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