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This Happened

This Happened — September 27: NLD Founded In Myanmar

On this day in 1988, The National League for Democracy was funded in Yangon, Myanmar.

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How Beijing's Backing Of Myanmar Sharpens China-India Tensions

While the 1,600-kilometer border between India and Myanmar has seen waves of Burmese refugees fleeing to India as the civil war and air strikes have intensified, the Chinese government has been vocal about its support of Myanmar's military junta. Inevitably, already tense relations between China and India

MIZORAM — In early May 2023, reporters entered the Simei Camp in Mizoram, northeast India. The camp, located on the outskirts of Aizawl, the capital of the Indian state of Mizoram, has housed 140 refugees since the coup of Burmese military ruler Min Aung Hlaing in 2021.

Prior to the February 1, 2021 coup, the term "Burmese refugees" was primarily associated with the Rakhine/Rohingya people of Myanmar. The first wave of Burmese refugees was in 2015, when more than 25,000 Rohingya refugees crossed the Indian Ocean on overcrowded and dirty boats to countries such as Malaysia, and became known for being stranded at sea.

The second wave occurred between 2016 and 2017, when armed conflict and genocide erupted in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, home to Rohingya, and a large number of refugees fled to neighboring Bangladesh. As of May 2023, there were 930,000 Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh.

But the Rohingya are not the only refugees in Myanmar, as more than 1.49 million people, regardless of ethnicity, have been displaced or exiled to neighboring countries as a result of the civil war against the military regime that followed the coup d'état in 2021. According to UNHCR, 88,300 people have fled to neighboring countries since the coup until May 1 of this year, with more than 40,000 Chin refugees, who are of Sino-Tibetan origin, fleeing to the neighboring Indian state of Mizoram.

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How Many Dead Bodies? Myanmar Military Stops At Nothing To Squash Resistance

Last week, Myanmar's armed forces bombed a gathering in a village in Sagaing Region, killing scores of innocent victims. It was not an isolated incident.


In the early days of a brutal 2021 military crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, members of the nascent resistance movement began asking “how many dead bodies” it would take for the world community to act.

More than two years on from a coup that installed military rule in the Southeast Asian country, pro-democracy protesters say they have yet to receive an adequate answer.

On April 11, 2023, the country’s armed forces dropped multiple bombs on a gathering in Pazigyi, a village in Sagaing Region, killing at least 165 people, including many children.

Such attacks are not uncommon, if not usually so deadly. The day before the Sagaing massacre, the Myanmar air force dropped bombs in Falam, Chin State, killing 11 people. In fact, since civil war broke out, 3,240 civilians and pro-democracy activists have been killed, according to the human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. In response, a fierce resistance movement has emerged, with an estimated 65,000 fighters using ambushes and other guerrilla tactics against military targets.

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This Happened—December 26: The Mother Of All Tsunamis

In 2004, a 9.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, triggering a tsunami and series of tidal waves that became one of worst natural disasters in recorded history

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In The News
Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

World Comes To New York, Myanmar School Attack, Vegan Bite

👋 Goedendag!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where world leaders start gathering in New York for the first in-person UN General Assembly since the pandemic, Iran faces growing protests after a young woman died following her arrest by the “morality police” for violating the hijab law and a group of scientists manage to estimate the total number of ants on Earth. Meanwhile, Jan Grossarth for German daily Die Welt unpacks the potential of “hempcrete,” i.e. bricks of hemp used as building material.


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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, McKenna Johnson and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Russia Confirms Odessa Attack, Pope’s Penance Pilgrimage, Hurdles World Record

👋 Wĩmwega!*

Welcome to Monday, where Russia denies then admits to shelling the port of Odessa, Myanmar’s military executes four democracy activists and the pope arrives in Canada for a historic “pilgrimage of penance.” Meanwhile, Global Press Journal looks at Sri Lanka’s ban on agrochemicals and how it has affected the country’s agriculture.

[*Kikuyu, Kenya]

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Yann Rousseau

Why So Many Asian Countries Are Staying Neutral On Putin

Western countries want to isolate Russia on the world stage. But for many Asian countries, the war in Ukraine is distant geographically and economically, and represents an existential debate between dictatorships and democracies.


TOKYOVladimir Putin could not have put it better than Zaw Min Tun, the spokesman of the junta in power in Myanmar. “Russia has taken the necessary actions to protect and strengthen its own sovereignty," Min Tun said the day after the invasion of Ukraine. "As a great power, it ensures the balance of world forces, which allows the preservation of peace.”

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The war launched against Ukraine prompted a unanimous condemnation of Russia in Western countries and triggered a coordinated and rapid implementation of very severe sanctions. But the same cannot be said for Asia.

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Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

The Beauty Of Diversity: Pageants Around The World Celebrate Difference

Beauty pageants once rewarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. But the events are no longer just a showcase for perfect hair and swimsuits. Innovative pageants around the world celebrate differences and advocate for people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ communities.

Gina Rühl might soon make history as the first Miss Germany with only one arm, an injury she sustained after a life-threatening motorcycle accident. Rühl now uses her platform to advocate for others with disabilities. She told German newspaper Die Welt that she decided to compete in Miss Germany because “I knew that this competition is no longer just about the outer shell, but about who you are and what message you want to convey to people.”

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

This is an increasingly common sentiment among beauty pageant contestants, a genre of competition that originally awarded good looks, and maybe some talent on the side. No longer just a showcase for beauty queens, both conventional and more inventive pageants around the world are embracing a more diverse range of contests.

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Bruno Philip

An Old War Is Rekindled On The Myanmar-Thailand Border

For the first time in 20 years, Myanmar regime fighter jets dropped bombs on territory partly controlled by the KNU, an armed group that has been fighting the central government for seven decades and bears the name of a large ethnic minority, the Karen.

MAE SAM LAEP — Seen from the Thai side of the Salouen River, the Burmese army's outpost does not look like much: on the top of a bare hilltop, several shabby bunkers, plank walls and zinc roofs are lined up. There's no living soul, apparently, except for the crowing of a rooster whose stubborn cackle intermittently reaches the other bank. A little higher up, balancing on the void stands the silhouette of a building that looks like a Buddhist pagoda. Strangely enough, a red flag is flying there. The Thai police say that it is a sign of war for their Burmese neighbors.

This isolated outpost is not just a godforsaken hole stunned by the April heat, locked in the torpor of a foggy afternoon awaiting the monsoon rains. It is instead a military barracks of the Tatmadaw (official armed forces of Myanmar), the same forces whose soldiers have in just two months massacred more than half a thousand demonstrators opposing the Feb. 1 military coup.

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Dominique Moisi

Coup de Greed: Myanmar Generals Are Following The Money

How can you hold on to wealth if you are no longer in power?

On February 1, did the Burmese generals declare war on their people? Are we witnessing a tragic repeat of the 1988 uprising, when the Myanmar military brutally suppressed popular protests? Why a military coup, and why now — Wasn't the army still effectively in power? And why did the generals decide to follow Donald Trump's lead and belatedly contest the results of an election, which took place on Nov. 8, and whose outcome was definitive? The National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won a clear victory, with more than 80% of the votes.

The answer begins with the fact that Myanmar's generals were motivated by a mixture of humiliation and fear. Their defeat was simply too absolute. They feared the results at the ballot box would push Suu Kyi's party to upset the delicate balance of power between the civilian government and the military leaders. Above all, they feared a possible constitutional reform that would take away the military's privileges, which allow them to monopolize a large proportion of the country's wealth.

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Bruno Philip

Inside China's Quiet Flex On Myanmar Coup

The coup? What coup? China remains extremely cautious about upsetting its delicate relationship with Myanmar, given the important economic and strategic elements at stake.

China, with its propensity to cover up the truth, has reacted with surreal moderation to the coup d"état perpetrated on Feb. 1 by the Myanmar army. Global Times, the English-language daily paper of the Chinese Communist Party, simply described it as "a major ministerial reshuffle."

Earlier, immediately after the coup, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic of China, Wang Wenbin, issued a more terse but significant diplomatic statement: "All concerned parties in Myanmar should settle their differences' in order to "maintain social and political stability."

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Anne Sophie Goninet

Photo of the Week: This Happened In Myanmar

On February 1, Myanmar's military seized power and declared a year-long state of emergency, with commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing taking charge. The coup d'etat follows the national election victory of the party of leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which the armed forces refused to recognize.

Suu Kyi and her party allies have been placed under house arrest and charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies.Since then tens of thousands of Myanmar citizens have taken to the streets to protest against the coup, facing police forces armed with water cannons and rubber bullets.

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