16th April 2021

In keeping with my policy of fair news reporting from Myanmar, I have another piece from the Global New Light of Myanmar. Yesterday’s headlines included the shattering news that the price of Tamarind leaves was holding up well.

Tamarind leaves ready for market. The BFD

Tamarind leaves ready for market.

The seasonal fresh tamarind leaves are selling well at K7,000 per viss (a viss equals 1.6kg) in NyaungU district, Mandalay Region, allowing the growers to earn well in the meantime.

A local person who plucks the tamarind leaves supplies about three to five viss of tamarind leaves a day to Kyaukpadaung market in the district. The tamarind leaves are seasonal vegetable, and the housewives mostly make a salad with the leaves. And it is also the common ingredient in the curry in Myanmar.

Moreover, some tea leaf processors buy tamarind leaves and mix them with the tea leaf. Some ferment the tamarind leaves. In the early season, the price is relatively high. It will slide during the abundant season. 

Source Global New Light of Myanmar, 16th April.

It’s nice to know that the situation is normal and life is going on with no distractions. I expect tomorrow to be headlined with the price of sesame seeds or the forecast day for the start of the monsoon.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, there was the announcement of a government in exile.

A “parliament” working in hiding to oust Myanmar’s junta from power announced a new shadow government Friday, with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi at its helm alongside ethnic minority politicians.

The country has been in turmoil since the military detained Suu Kyi and seized power, triggering a massive uprising that the junta has sought to quell with lethal force.  

Besides demanding democracy’s return, protesters are also increasingly calling for more of a governing role for the country’s minority groups – which have long seen their voices marginalized by the ethnic Bamar majority. 

The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – a group of lawmakers mostly from Suu Kyi’s party attempting to govern underground via a shadow parliament – on Friday announced its leaders.

Helming the so-called “National Unity Government” is Suu Kyi, in her position as State Counsellor, and President Win Myint – who is also under house arrest and facing a barrage of charges from the junta. 

A selection of the new government. Top row, left to right: Dr. Sa Sa, U Lwin Ko Latt, Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe. Bottom row, left to right: U Tin Tun Naing, Dr. Win Myat Aye, U Yee Mon. The BFD

They are flanked by a vice-president who is ethnic Kachin and a prime minister who is ethnic Karen, said Min Ko Naing, a prominent democracy leader, in an address on the CRPH’s official Facebook page. 

“We have organized a government which has the largest number of ethnic minority groups,” he said. 

A list of appointed ministers also included prominent leaders from the Chin, Shanni, Mon, Karenni and Ta’ang ethnic groups. 

The politicians were chosen based on results from the 2020 election, input from a nationwide anti-coup protest movement, and ethnic minority groups – including armed rebels in the country’s border territories, said Min Ko Naing.

“We have to pull it from the root … we must try to eradicate it,” he said, as he raised the three-finger salute – the symbol of resistance.

“Only the people can decide the future.” 

The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing “high treason” and the junta announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians – some of whom now hold positions in the new “National Unity Government.” 

Myanmar has more than 130 official ethnic minority groups.  

Source Asia Times 16th April 2021

In a surprise move, ASEAN leaders have called a meeting to discuss the situation in Myanmar, to be held on 24th April in Jakarta. General Min Aung Hlaing is expected to attend. He must be extremely confident of his position in Myanmar to risk leaving the country. Even for a short time. He must have assessed the risk of the army deposing him as low, and he must be confident that the opposition groups don’t have the logistical ability to take out his plane en route to Jakarta.

ASEAN leaders have agreed to meet and discuss the situation in Myanmar on April 24 at the grouping’s secretariat headquarters in Jakarta, according to a high-level source.

Myanmar military junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is expected to attend the meeting, which many see as a test of ASEAN unity in dealing with the crisis.

After a week of disagreements over the meeting date, ASEAN chair Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei on Wednesday agreed to invite all the ASEAN leaders for a face-to-face meeting in Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had earlier called for a special summit to discuss the worsening situation in Myanmar, which has seen hundreds of pro-democracy protesters killed since the military took over in a coup on Feb. 1.

The summit comes amid growing condemnations by the international community of continued violent crackdowns by Myanmar security forces on protesters fighting against the military coup in various parts of Myanmar. As of yesterday, more than 800 persons had been killed, according to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.

Brunei, as chairman of ASEAN this year, issued a statement immediately after the coup stressing the importance of dialog, reconciliation and the return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar. The statement also pointed out that political stability in ASEAN member countries is “essential to achieving a peaceful stable and prosperous ASEAN Community”.

On March 2, ASEAN foreign ministers held an informal meeting during which they called for an end to violence in Myanmar and the release of all political detainees as well as a dialog for reconciliation. Since then, the ASEAN member states have engaged in bilateral diplomacy with the military regime in Naypyitaw to help find a peaceful end to the crisis.

According to the source, the ASEAN leaders will first listen to a briefing on the latest situation in Myanmar by Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. The ASEAN chair will respond to him and other ASEAN leaders will then join in the discussion.

At the moment, the source said that it is difficult to predict the outcome of the summit due to the unsettled situation on the ground. Reports of continuing  fighting between the Myanmar military and some armed ethnic groups have heightened concerns among the ASEAN leaders that it could lead to an all-out civil war.

Source the Irrawaddy 16th April 2021

So Min Aung Hlaing is either extremely confident that he won’t be deposed in his absence, or he is feeling the fightback in Myanmar and is going to try and shore up support in ASEAN. An interesting move.

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New Government Formed, Junta Trying to Find Them

Brought up in a far-left coal mining community and came to NZ when the opportunity arose. Made a career working for blue-chip companies both here and overseas. Developed a later career working on business...