Should Bangladesh annex Rakhine State of Myanmar

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Contents in brief

1. Report on the Myanmar meeting of March 3-4 May in Bonn
2. H.uman Rights Watch criticizes lifting of EU sanctions against Myanmar
3. Public consultation on the future of the EU-Myanmar investment relationship
4. Googling is now also possible in Myanmar
5. Munich airport operator FMG interested in airports in Myanmar
6. Free, privately financed daily newspapers are allowed to appear again for the first time in 50 years

7. Heineken now also flows into Myanmar

1.) Report on the Myanmar conference from 3-4. May in Bonn

Burma or Myanmar - how should you describe the country, wedged between powerful neighbors like China and India? For many years, during which the country with its roughly 60 million inhabitants was largely isolated internationally, this question was a political litmus test for which side one was closer, the military dictatorship or the opposition. But at the conference at the Academy of the Evangelical Academy in the Rhineland, this question was no longer a point of contention. There were far too many new and more pressing questions for that.

Click here for the report of the Myanmar conference "Myanmar on the Way towards Social and Ecological Justice?" by Uwe Hoering.

2.) Human Rights Watch criticizes lifting of EU sanctions against Myanmar

Human Rights Watch report reveals new facts about human rights violations against Muslim minorities in Myanmar. Local authorities and security forces in particular are accused of having watched or even participated in attacks. In recent years there have been significant violent attacks against the Muslim Rohingya minority, which allegedly claimed the lives of over 211 people. Over 125,000 people are said to have been displaced as a result of the "ethnic cleansing".

The Rohingya, most of whom live in Rakhine State on the border with Bangladesh, are a Muslim minority whose territory was annexed by Burma about 200 years ago. To this day, they have been denied the right to work and citizenship.

The Myanmar government rejected the Human Rights Watch report as unilateral. A separate report on the events in Rakhine State is said to have been commissioned by the government.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the official lifting of EU sanctions against Myanmar. According to the decision of the EU foreign ministers, only the arms embargo should remain in force. According to Human Rights Watch, given the serious human rights violations, its repeal is premature.

Read the full report from Human Rights Watch here.

The Wall Street Journal April 22, 2013; Reuters 04/22/2013; Handelsblatt April 22, 2013

3.) Public consultation on the future of the EU-Myanmar investment relationship

The European Commission is launching a public consultation on the future of EU-Myanmar investment relations. Recommendations and comments from various stakeholders are requested by June 15, 2013.

You can find more information here: Document1 - Document2

4.) Googling is now also possible in Myanmar

During his visit to Myanmar, Google boss Eric Schmidt called on the government to improve the telecommunications infrastructure with the involvement of the private sector. He emphasized the need for competition and freedom of expression.

So far there are only three Internet providers in Myanmar, two of which are partly or wholly publicly owned. The telecommunications infrastructure is in a desolate state and is characterized by high prices. According to the World Bank, only 1% of Myanmarians have internet access and less than 10% have a mobile phone.

Schmidt also referred to the great importance of the Internet for the further economic and political opening of the country. In addition to the introduction of a local website, Google also released a Google Apps Store, which now also enables access from Myanmar.

The Guardian March 22, 2013; Reuters March 22, 2013

5.) Munich airport operator FMG is interested in airports in Myanmar

Flughafen M√ľnchen GmbH (FMG) plans to expand its business interests into Asia and has applied to operate three international airports in Myanmar. These are the airports of Yangon, Mandalay and Bago. The airport sector in Myanmar is only to be partially opened to foreign experts. FMG would take over the management and advisory function of the airports. The result of the tender should be announced this year.

Although the importance of the Myanmar airports is rather minor in international comparison, Myanmar is considered to be the climber among the Southeast Asian travel destinations. In Yangon alone, it is expected that passenger arrivals will double to 5.5 million within four years.

Airliners March 11, 2013; Wall Street Online 3/11/2013; South German March 11, 2013

6.) After 50 years, free, privately financed daily newspapers are allowed to appear again for the first time

Myanmar lays another milestone for the country's political development. After almost 50 years in which the newspaper landscape was characterized by a state monopoly and private publishers were only allowed to publish censored magazines on a weekly basis, licenses for private daily newspapers were granted again for the first time as part of the reform program. There are a total of 16 licenses, including publications by President Thein Sein's ruling party USDP and the opposition party under Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, concerns arise with regard to the financing of private newspapers, especially with a view to the purchasing power of the Myanmar readership. This will depend on the economic development of the country.

But it also shows that the path to freedom of the press is not going smoothly. In March, the government presented a new press law to regulate new publications, which met with fierce criticism at home and abroad. Reporting on the constitution as well as on illegal and conflict-prone topics should be banned. The project has been postponed and it is expected that the bill will be more liberal.

Daily news 03/31/2013; Der Spiegel 04/01/2013; Deutsche Welle 04/01/2013

7.) Heineken is now also flowing into Myanmar

After 17 years, Heineken - the third largest brewery group in the world - is returning to Myanmar. The pioneers were Coca Cola and PepsiCo, which resumed their business in Myanmar at the end of 2012 as a result of the reforms and the lifting or easing of sanctions.

The Dutch brewery group Heineken left the country in 1996 due to a boycott initiative. Now the company will operate in the country through a local partner, Alliance Brewery Co. Ltd, with the aim of building a brewery near Yangon - which will sell Heineken along with other beer brands - by 2014.

As a result of the entry of Heineken, Coca Cola, Ford and Co., the Starbucks chain is also planning to gain a foothold in Myanmar in the next few years. The Seattle, USA company recently opened its first branches in Vietnam and India.

New York Times 7/11/96; AdAge Global May 13, 2013; Mizzima 5/14/13; Bangkok Post 5/13/13