The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called Rakhaing-pray by its own people, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality.

An ancient stone stupa found in the lake in Mongbra (Minbya), Arakan

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Wednesday, September 2, 2015 0 comments

Written by Arakan Indobhasa

September 2, 2015

On August 21, 2015, an ancient stone stupa was found from the lake, Pone-nah-kan (ပုဏၰားကန္), in Mongbra (Minbya), Arakan state while pumping out the water polluted with mud during the flooding in Arakan state. 
Twelve of the country's fourteen states including Arakan were affected because of flooding in Myanmar from July to August 2015.  Mongbra Township is one of the most deadly affected one in Arakan, and almost all lakes and wells in the flood affected areas in Arakan were covered with dirty water. While the polluted water being pumped out of the lake, the stupa was found in the lake located in Zee-haung (Old Market) Ward, near Mroema Stadium, Mongbra (Minbya).
"The Parahita Network from Rangoon and the Public Centre from Mongbra (Minbya) were co-operating to remove the dirty and polluted water from the lake. Today (21-08-2015) the stupa covering with mud was found on the ground floor of the lake about at 9:30 a.m." said U Hla Maung Than living in Zee-haung (Old Market) Ward to Bongbra News.   

An old man about 70 years old residing near the lake explained about the lake that, during the time of Arakan Kings, the lake was dug and donated by the Brahman (called Pone-nah ပုဏၰား in Arakan, so the lake is still called "Pone-nah-kan (ပုဏၰားကန္)". 
An Arakan historian, Mongbra-Mon Thein Zan from Monbra, who went there and studied about the stupa said to Bongbra News, “That is a lower part of the Vesali periodic stupa. There is 'Yedhamma' verse inscription written on the moulding of the stone stupa. About 1500 (5th century A.D) years ago A.D, the stupa was made for worship in Vesali period of Arakan. I believe that, about 1500 years ago A.D, Arakanese would live in this area because along the Kyaing-taung hill where the stupa was found it is linked to Buddhist art of Vesali period."
He continued that the length of stupa that was currently found now is about 12 inches, and it is about 7 inches wide and about 18 inches high. One site of its surface was destroyed and the upper part of it also seemed to be destroyed.
Two stone stupas were also found on the Kyaing-taung hill before - the stupa that was found near Tha-htee-kun (သူေဌးကုန္း) Village is kept in the Radanabiman(ရတနာ့ဗိမာန္) Monastery and the stupa found near Ah-nauk ah-thee (အေနာက္အသည္) Village is kept in the Ah-thee Monastery. 
U Hla Maung Than told Bongbra News that the stupa recently found is temporarily placed on boundary of the lake, because no authority yet comes there to be able to place the stupa in a suitable place. 
Translated by Arakan Indobhasa
Sources: Mongbra News

On 8 November, Myanmar will vote for a new government. Much is at stake.
Many analysts expect Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to win the November poll. (The NLD won 43 out of 45 seats in a 2012 by-election.) Should this happen, or should the NLD form a coalition with smaller parties, Myanmar would secure its first majority civilian government in 53 years.
Enormous challenges face whoever wins the election, from addressing severe development deficiencies—the 2014 census indicates Myanmar has one of the shortest life expectancies and lowest levels of access to clean water in Asia—to building peace with about 18 armed ethnic groups.
Several of those groups have stated that natural resource revenue sharing between regions must be included as a topic “for further negotiations” with the government as part of any multilateral ceasefire. Even today, soldiers active in conflict areas say that control over natural resource development is a primary shared goal. As such, resource revenue sharing is likely to play a central role in determining whether today’s democratic transition is translated into peace and development in resource-rich regions.
In recognition of this potentially historic shift away from centralized power, a number of technocrats and advisors to the government, as well as opposition members, have suggested expanding fiscal decentralization, already underway to some degree. They argue that decentralization, including decentralization of resource revenues, would improve service delivery to some of the neediest parts of Myanmar and help redress over five decades of perceived marginalization of ethnic minorities.
In addition to being a key component of any long-term peace and security strategy, resource revenue sharing could help improve the quality of public investment in Myanmar and attract high-quality investors to the extractive sector. Whether or not it succeeds will depend on how any prospective system is designed. NRGI is currently studying the fiscal decentralization process and how resource revenue sharing—both intergovernmental transfers and tax assignments—could be implemented. The research—to be released later this year—is meant to help support Myanmar’s consultations on how to distribute its natural resource revenues.
Myanmar’s resource wealth
Where are the most valuable natural resources actually located in Myanmar? And are the poorest states the most resource-rich?
Today, approximately 99 percent of official oil, gas and mining revenues are collected by the national government or state-owned entities, as prescribed by the 2008 constitution. Transfers of these and general revenues to subnational governments are ad hoc, generally favoring conflict-prone areas like Kachin, Kayah and Tanintharyi.
Oil and gas are much larger contributors to government coffers than minerals. The sale value of hydrocarbons extracted in Myanmar in the 2012-2013 fiscal year was estimated at USD 5 billion, most of which was from gas exports. It is unclear what percentage of the profits from petroleum and mineral extraction are collected in taxes and royalties by the union government. How much is exported and how much is reinvested or held in domestic companies, whether private, state-owned or military-affiliated, is also unclear, though Myanmar’s EITI process may improve access to information soon.
In terms of minerals, foreign sources place the value of production much higher than the officially reported USD 1.15 billion in 2013-2014 exports. UN trade data shows nearly USD 12.3 billion in precious stones were exported from Myanmar to China in 2014 alone. By our estimates, actual precious stones exports were more than 10 times more valuable than what was reported by the government. The box below shows the location of Myanmar’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth.
A resource-poverty correlation?
According to the 2014 census, conflict-affected and mineral-producing Shan state has by far the lowest literacy rates and the second-worst access to clean water of any area in Myanmar. Oil-producing Magway has some of the highest infant mortality rates and lowest access to sanitation facilities.
However some of the poorest regions, such as agricultural Ayeyawady or Chin, do not have significant on-shore non-renewable resources. Ayeyawady has some of the highest child mortality rates and worst access to clean water in Asia. Only 12 percent of the population in the region have access to electricity at home. Chin has the second highest child mortality rate and third lowest literacy rate in the country. Thus poverty and resource wealth may not go hand-in-hand in Myanmar.
Perhaps less surprisingly, some of the strongest development indicators can be found in Mandalay and Yangon regions, along with the capital Naypyidaw, all of which contain large cities.
Ethnic grievances and resource wealth
The links between violent conflict and resource wealth are also unclear. Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan are the regions that have suffered most from conflict over the years. Of these, Kachin, Kayah and Shan, which have large ethnic minority populations have significant on-shore hydrocarbon or mineral production. Bamar-majority regions with significant on-shore production of valuable hydrocarbons or minerals, such as Magway, Mandalay and Sagaing, have not experienced as much violence. (Bamars are the dominant ethnic group in Myanmar.)
While Rakhine does not have significant on-shore production, it is close to the off-shore Shwe gas field. Rakhine has suffered from ongoing conflict and persecution of the Rohingya people and remains one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, with by far the worst access to sanitation facilities in the country and ranking low on nearly every social indicator. Important gas pipelines also run through Rakhine, as well as through Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Mon, Shan, Tanintharyi, and Yangon.
It appears that, in Myanmar, resource wealth is linked to violent conflict insomuch as it intersects with ethnic grievances. Historically, and even today, most of the benefits from natural resource extraction in Myanmar have accrued to the Bamar-led Union government and those with government associations, such as military affiliated companies. The dearth of direct benefits accruing to minority groups in resource-rich regions has fueled a sense of injustice there.
As such, resource revenue sharing and fiscal decentralization more generally are critical components of the peace process and would improve local monitoring and enforcement of natural resource contracts. That said, no resource revenue sharing regime can successfully achieve these goals without national consensus on the formula before implementation, a consensus that can be built regardless of who wins the November election.
Andrew Bauer is senior economic analyst with NRGI. Maw Htun Aung is NRGI’s Myanmar officer.
Distribution of Myanmar’s Hydrocarbon and Mineral Wealth
While most oil and gas production is currently offshore, pipelines run through many states. The older gas network (serving the Yadana and Yetagun fields) and the newer one (serving the Zawtika field) run through Yangon, Bago, Mon and Tanintharyi. The new Shwe oil and gas pipeline passes through Rakhine, Magway, Mandalay and Shan. As of April 2014, there were also 17 onshore blocks producing oil or gas, many in Magway.
As of 2013, the most recent year reported by the Ministry of Mines, there were large-scale mines operating in all but two states and regions and active, legal mines in all but Chin state. Among the most important of these are the Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing region, the Hpakant jade mines in Kachin state, ruby and sapphire mines in the Mandalay region and Shan state, and the Kyaukpahto and Modi Taung gold mines in Sagaing and Mandalay regions, respectively. Illegal mines also dot the country.
Exploration activities are also underway in nearly every state or region. Among the most promising deposits are iron ore in Kachin, Bago and Shan states; lead and zinc in Shan; and gold in Mandalay and Sagaing. The government has plans to expand copper, nickel and chromite production at a minimum.

Two Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin, front  and Win Zaw Htun, behind,  arrive at  Samui provincial court in Suratthani province, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, accused of killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. 
(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Two Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin, front and Win Zaw Htun, behind, arrive at Samui provincial court in Suratthani province, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, accused of killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
One of the men accused of raping and killing Hemsby student Hannah Witheridge on the Thai island of Koh Tao told a court today how he was tortured to confess to her murder.
Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.
The 22 year-old Burmese migrant worker Zaw Lin said he was detained by about ten men dressed in civilian clothes - some armed with wooden batons - who came to his dormitory in the middle of the night and took him and six others away in handcuffs.
He said he was taken to a location, which was not a police station, and separated from the others where he was asked if he murdered Ms Witheridge and fellow backpacker David Miller from Jersey on September 15 2014.
Zaw Lin then told the court in Koh Samui, Thailand, today that the men asked him some questions through a translator before stripping him naked in an air conditioned room and putting a plastic bag tightly over his head.
“I bit through the bag to be able to breathe so they put another bag on top of that one and the translator asked me: “Did you kill?” When I said “No”, they put another bag over my head and pulled it tight around my neck.
“The translator then asked me again: “Did you kill or not?” Then I collapsed on the floor.”
Zaw Lin went on to say that he was blindfolded and something was put in his mouth as they continued asking him questions.
The accused is giving evidence on the opening day of testimony for the defence after 13 days of prosecution hearings on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui.
Zaw Lin had been working in Koh Tao since 2012 at various bars and restaurants, and was legally registered as a migrant worker, but on the night he was detained he was only in possession of his Burmese “smart card” issued to all legal workers, as he said his passport had been taken by a friend to get its three month visa stamp.
Zaw Lin and his co-accused Wei Phyo, also aged 22, confessed to the rape and murder of Ms Witheridge, 23, and the killing of Mr Miller , aged 24, during police interrogation, but retracted their confessions weeks later after being given access to legal representation.
They told human rights lawyers who visited them in Koh Samui prison that they had been threatened and beaten to confess.
In court today, Zaw Lin admitted that he and two friends had been on the same beach on the night of the killings.
They had bought beer and cigarettes, and one of the men had acquired a bottle of wine. One of the friends left to visit his girlfriend, but the two co-accused stayed and decided to have a swim. They say they hid their guitar in a bar, and Wei Phyo left his shoes and his shirt on the beach, but when they emerged from the water the clothing and the musical instrument were nowhere to be found.
“At that point we gave up looking for our things and went home to bed at our friends house, at between two and three o’clock in the morning,” Zaw Lin told the court.
The friend, known affectionately to the two men as Mao Mao, who was also a Burmese migrant worker, has not testified. The prosecution took a statement from him at the time but they say they no longer know his whereabouts. Mao Mao worked at the bar where Zaw Lin claimed to have hidden the guitar.
Zaw Lin’s mother was in court to hear her son’s testimony and as he explained what had happened to him she left the court and vomited outside, before going back in.
The trial continues.

IMT highway, India-Myanmar-Thailand, Narendra Modi, Act East policy, Business news
The government is set to ink a strategic agreement to operationalise a 3,200-km road link from Moreh (India) to Mae Sot (Thailand) to enhance regional co-operation later in November this year.

The India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral  highway, which entails linking India to Myanmar and then further to Southeast Asia, has been taken up as priority by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A senior official in the Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways (MoRTH) said, “The protocol has been cleared. There is a slight glitch with customs, a meeting to sort out the same will be held in September. Myanmar needs four months for parliamentary approval. The agreement will be signed by November.”

Modi is learnt to be very keen that effective and credible infrastructure links be established to enhance regional co-operation between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Senior ministry officials say the trilateral highway will drastically enhance the connectivity between the Mekong sub-region and India and prove to be a game-changer for India’s northeast region. It is an important component in the government’s plans to ramp up its “Look East” policy to the newly coined “Act East” policy.

“The India-Myanmar-Thailand road link has been designed to bridge emerging economies in the Asean and Saarc regions. The pact is scheduled to become operational shortly and to mark the occasion a car rally would be held before March 2016”, added the official. On implementation, the sub-region will get access to the larger Asean market through seamless passenger and cargo movement.

Acting east

# Modi is keen that credible infrastructure links be established to enhance co-operation between South Asia and Southeast Asia
# Govt plans to ramp up its “Look East” policy to “Act East” policy

Says citizens' group after visiting Patuakhali, Barguna identifying oppression, land grabbing by influential people as key reasons

The Rakhine community in Patuakhali and Barguna has decreased significantly due to oppression and land grabbing by influential people in the areas, said a group of citizens who recently visited the areas.
The community had around one lakh people several decades back, but now it has only around 2,500, they said at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday.
The citizens went on a two-day visit to Rakhine areas in Taltoli upazila of Barguna and Kolapara upazila of Patuakhali on August 26.
People of the Rakhine community are being suppressed in different ways and they are being evicted from their land all over the country, but the situation in Barguna and Patuakhali is the worst, said Robayet Ferdous, associate professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of Dhaka University, who read out the keynote paper.   
Robayet said Rakhine people started living in the areas in the beginning of 1800s. There were 144 paras in Barguna and 93 in Patuakhali in 1948, but now the number has come down to 26 and 13 respectively.
Most of the Rakhines have gone to Myanmar due to suppression and land grabbing, he added.
The land grabbers did not even spare worship places, Robayet said, adding they grabbed most of the land of the century-old Kuakata Bouddha Bihar.
He said there were 19 Buddhist temples in the areas but now there is only one.
Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud demanded that the government form an investigation team led by a retired district judge or former secretary to investigate the team's findings and take necessary steps to solve problems of the Rakhine.
If the government does not give proper attention to the Rakhine, their number will go down to zero, said Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum.
The team demanded that the government provide security to the Rakhine people still living there. They also demanded that all the land grabbed from Rakhines be returned to them.
Among others, Numan Ahmed Khan, executive director of the Institute of Environment and Development, and Pankaj Bhattacharya, president of Oikya NAP, addressed the briefing.

Myanmar Arakan Army attack BGB patrol team

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Monday, August 31, 2015 0 comments

The Daily Star August 27, 2015

Myanmarese separatist group Arakan Army swooped on a Border Guard Bangladesh patrol team in Boro Modak area of Thanchi in Bandarban yesterday morning, leading to a gun battle that left one nayek injured.

BGB Nayek Jakir Hossain was shot during the gunfight that started around 9:30am, said Col Waliur Rahman, sector commander of Bandarban BGB.

He was taken to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Chittagong by helicopter, sources in the BGB said, adding that he was out of danger.

Soon after the attack, additional BGB men from nearby camps joined the gun battle that continued until 3:00pm, reports our Bandarban correspondent. 

Additional BGB and army men from camps in Ruma, Thanchi, Ali Kadam and Bandarban Sadar were dispatched to the remote area by helicopter.

The joint force took the situation under control as the separatist group retreated. An operation was going on to capture the attackers yesterday evening.

A jet of Bangladesh Air Force was in the sky over the area.

A joint force of Bangladesh Army and the BGB will launch an operation today at the remote Thanchi border of Bandarban to flush out members of the Myanmar separatist group.

"We are sending more force there and will launch an all-out operation tomorrow [today] to flush them out," BGB Director General Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed told The Daily Star over the phone.

"We have requested the Myanmar Army to seal the border on their side so that they [Myanmar Army] could take action against the separatists during the drive," he said, adding the Myanmar counterpart assured them of all sorts of help.

Echoing the BGB boss, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters, "We will root them [the separatists] out from the area in a combing operation so that they cannot create such a situation again."

BGB officials believe that the group might have carried out yesterday’s attack as BGB men on Tuesday seized 13 horses being sent to the group through the area.

On July 14, BGB personnel rescued two Myanmar Army men abducted by the armed group. The two army men were handed over to Myanmar three days later.

Myanmar rebel group the Arakan Army (AA) swooped on a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) patrol in Boro Modak area of Thanchi in Bandarban, Bangladesh, yesterday morning, leading to a gun battle that left one BGB soldier injured The Daily Star reported on 27 August.
Jakir Hossain was shot during the gunfight that started around 9:30am, said Col Waliur Rahman, sector commander of Bandarban BGB.
He was taken to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Chittagong by helicopter, sources in the BGB said, adding that he was out of danger.
A joint force of Bangladesh Army and the BGB will launch an operation today, 27 August, at the remote Thanchi border of Bandarban to flush out members of the Myanmar separatist group.
"We have requested the Myanmar Army to seal the border on their side so that they [Myanmar Army] could take action against the separatists during the drive," BGB Director General Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed told The Daily Star, adding their Myanmar counterpart assured them of all sorts of help.
On July 14, BGB personnel rescued two Myanmar soldiers abducted by the armed group. The two men were handed over to Myanmar three days later.

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 28, 2015

Bangladesh has launched a raid against Myanmar separatists following a gun battle between local forces and the Arakan Army, local media sources reported August 27.

The remote hills on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border have been home to a range of separatist groups from neighboring Myanmar for decades. The groups – including the Arakan Army which was formed in 2009 and fights for the independence of Arakan state – have long posed a problem for Bangladesh’s security forces along a poorly-policed border.

This particular raid comes after an attack by the Arakan Army on Bangladesh border forces in Thanchi in Bandarban. On Wednesday (August 26) morning at around 9:30am local time, members of the Arakan Army opened fire on a team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) when they were on patrol with army members on a vessel. The incident came just a day after Bangladesh forces had seized 10 Arabian horses from Arakan Army men.

In response, BGB Director General Maj. Gen Aziz said that Bangladesh had immediately sent in reinforcements – including troops and a jet of the Bangladesh Air Force – in a gun battle that continued until around 3:00pm.

After the separatists retreated, Aziz said the BGB and army members had launched a combined operation against them, who he said were in remote bordering forests in Bandarban. He said that additional BGB and army troop reinforcements would subsequently be under way.

“We are sending more force[s] there and will launch an all-out operation tomorrow [Thursday] to flush them out,” Aziz told The Daily Star over the phone.

In addition, he also said that Bangladesh had contacted the Myanmar Army through their embassy in Dhaka and requested that they seal their side of the border so the separatists would not have an opportunity to escape.

“We have requested the Myanmar army to seal the border on their side so that they [Myanmar Army] could take action against the separatists during the drive,” he reportedly said, adding that Naypyidaw had assured Dhaka of what The Daily Star described as “all sorts of help.”

The Army has also claimed that it has nabbed a member of the Arakan Army during a raid between Wednesday night and Thursday morning in Rangamati district. Major Taslim of the 305th Infantry Brigade told bdnews24 via email that he was found with Arakan Army uniforms, laptops, digital cameras, motorcycles and two horses in his possession. The rebels are also believed to have sustained between eight to 20 casualties, based on preliminary eyewitness reports.

The Arakan Army, for its part, has claimed that the whole situation has been a product of misunderstanding which it blames on BGB officers. Lunn Shwe of the Arakan Army told Adil Sakhawat of Dhaka Tribune that the initial fighting took place when the BGB officers opened fire despite Arakan Army members trying to explain that they were not enemies of Bangladesh when they encountered them.

“We do not have any policy [or] intentions to have this kind of fight with our neighbors but it was just a horrible misunderstanding and a deplorable incident. From our side we shall try to solve this through peaceful means,” he said.

____The Diplotmat

But Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has made it clear to the federal government that the state government is totally against ceasefire though it welcomes peace talks.
Sarkar was speaking to reporters in the Secretariat on Wednesday evening.
The NLFT had approached the union home ministry to appoint former Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) supremo Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl and former Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga as interlocutors for the peace process with the government.
They say a ceasefire must be in place during the dialogue that would lead to surrender and signing of agreements.
“Probably there were two rounds of talks with the NLFT, first in Shillong and then at Delhi. Practically I do not find anything much has come out of this dialogue,” said Sarkar.
“But the main thing is that talks are ongoing within the constitutional frame and which is positive because they used to demand for independent Tripura.”
“The second meeting took place a few months back but we found nothing much happened and they asked for little.
“Then we were informed by the government of India that the NLFT wants an interlocutor and suggested two names – Bijoy Hrangkhawl and former Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga.  Bijoy Hrangkhawl has close links with the NLFT or they would not have suggested his name,” he further said.
Sarkar, however raised question on the intention of the NLFT and alleged that the militants were continuing their subversive activities alongside the dialogue.
“We have clearly said that they are in dialogue and they want to return back to normal life but at the same time they are continuing their extortion, abduction and ambush (security forces).
“These things cannot go hand in hand. Secondly, there was a proposal of ceasefire but we disagreed,” said Sarkar who is also holding state's home portfolio.
He said the security forces will be active in the state but will not seek confrontation with the militants until attacked.
Sarkar viewed that his government had been always in favour of peace talks and whether the militants talked with the central government avoiding the state or wanted the talk via a mediator was not an issue.
The Tripura chief minister in different platforms thanked the present government in Bangladesh for taking action against the militants of Northeast India who were utilising the Bangladesh territory.
But he says still there are a few camps of Indian militants in CHT areas.

The BGB was joined by the army and the police in combing operations in Rangamati district. Troops were also massed on the border region of Bandarban, specially around Thanchi, where the gunbattle took place on Wednesday.
"We have got some indications about rebel casualties. Locals say they found the rebels drag away eight to 20 of their comrades, we have also seen blood trails at the spot of the encounter," Maj-Gen Aziz told journalists at BGB's Peelkhana headquarters.
He said the BGB operations started early on Thursday and the patrols managed to recover many leftovers of the rebels -- from belt to bullets.
An accomplice of the 'Arakan Army' was nabbed from Rangamati on Thursday, raising hopes of leads about the rebel movements and intentions.

The BGB chief said the Myanmar separatists might move back and forth across a hilly and forested border, but there was no chance for them to set up a base there.

He said his force tackled the situation well and fast but operations had to continue.

He also said Bangladesh and Myanmar would work together to prevent the rebels from getting to be a problem.

“We exchange information during any such operation,” he said.

Maj-Gen Aziz said the BGB patrol that was attacked on Wednesday was patrolling the area on a boat.

“The attack was swift and unexpected. We were not ready as we find the borders with India and Myanmar always calm,” he said.

The attack is believed to be a result of the seizure of 10 horses used as transport by the Arakan army on Tuesday.

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