Rebel soldier to gay rights warrior

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View original here.

With tears in his eyes, Aung Myo Min tells the story of his first love. As a young man, filled with a fierce passion for equality and democracy in his home country of Burma, he had taken up arms against the military government with other like-minded students. Deep in the Burmese jungle, Aung Myo Min fell in love with another young man, a fellow student-cum-soldier who shared his ideals and fought alongside him. But while their comrades preached equal human rights for all, the two men knew they were not accepted by the rest of the group. Unable to cope with the stigma, the couple separated.

Aung Myo Min left the army to pursue non-violent activism, while his lover was sent to the front lines.He was later captured by government forces and tortured to death.

“They did not believe in this kind of love,” Aung Myo Min tells the camera.

“But our love, it came from the heart.”

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Reward and ruin on the Salween River

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View original here. 

Slowly, a few drops of water pool together in the caves of a glacier some 5,450 metres above sea level in the Qinghai Mountains of Tibet. This is the source of the mighty Salween River, at 2,815 kilometres one of Asia’s longest free-flowing waterways and lifeline to around seven million people.

From its tranquil birth on the Tibetan plateau, the Salween, or Nu as it is known in Chinese, careers southwards, through Yunnan and the Shan hills, briefly holding court as the official border between Burma and Thailand, then flowing out into the Andaman Sea at the port of Moulmein.

The Salween is only navigable 90 kilometres from its mouth, and then only in the rainy season. For the most part it runs across hundreds of miles of remote rainforest and canyons, untroubled by civilisation.

But while the Salween has flowed undisturbed for centuries through Burma, the rest of the country is undergoing an industrial revolution.

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Coca-Cola hits back at military link claims

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View original here

Coca-Cola has defended its business practices in Burma after an international industry watchdog pointed out connections between the corporation’s local partner and the US Treasury-blacklisted company Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).

Prior to recommencing business in Burma, the drinks giant insisted it had conducted “comprehensive” due diligence checks in the years 2009 to 2012 “based on the information at the time”. But it wasn’t until Global Witness alerted Coca-Cola to these links that the conglomerate realised that its only local director in Burma, Shwe Cynn, was also a shareholder in the jade mining company Xie Family.

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Aussie activists spend a week as refugees

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here. 

While most Australians were happily tucking into bacon and eggs on Saturday morning, Jade Horrobin was finishing off the last of her week’s rations.

In the week leading up to World Refugee Day on 20 June, Horrobin had been taking part in the ‘Ration Challenge’ fundraising project designed by charity organisation Act For Peace, when for a week, participants are only allowed to eat the same food rations as distributed at the Mae La Oon refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border.

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Caught in the crossfire

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here

A small and isolated community in Chin State have suffered human rights abuses and been forced to flee their homes due to recent outbreaks of fighting in the state’s south, the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) has reported.

“This is yet another case where ordinary civilians, this time Khumi Chin indigenous people, bear the brunt of armed conflict in Burma and suffer human rights violations,” said CHRO’s Advocacy Director Rachel Fleming in a statement on 15 June.

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51 minors released by Burmese army

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here. 

Fifty-one children and young people were discharged from the Burmese Armed Forces, commonly known as the Tatmadaw, on Thursday, bringing the total number of underage recruits to be released this year to 93.

This latest batch of discharges has been commended by the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) as progress in the quest to completely end the involvement of children in armed conflict.

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INTERVIEW – Kachin women fight back

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here. 

The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) has called on the international community to increase pressure on the Burmese government to end ethnic conflict in the Shan and Kachin States, as the estimated number of people displaced by the fighting continues to rise.

In a press release issued on 9 June, KWAT levels accusations of human rights abuses at the Burmese military, including the rape and murder of two Kachin volunteer teachers, and the attempted rape of a 73-year-old woman earlier in 2015.

DVB’s Melanie Keyte sat down with Moon Nay Li and Shirley Seng from the women’s organisation to talk about the ongoing conflict in Burma’s northern states and the difficulties facing Kachin women.

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