Tag Archives: Myanmar

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims Were In Acute Crisis: UNHCR Head

Myanmar's Rohinya Muslims

More than 800,000 Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar were in most acute situation, said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi comparing about 66 million displaced people in the world due to such similar situation ignited by violence. Talking to the reporters outside the UN Security Council he said, “We spoke about some of the most complex crisis in ...

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Aurore Mutesi on the trials and triumphs of her reign as Miss Rwanda

Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda’s reign as Miss Rwanda will end on February 22 2014 when her successor is crowned. She spoke to Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi about the trials and triumphs during her reign. Miss Rwanda Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda. “When I decided to enter the Miss Rwanda pageant in 2012, I wanted to be an ambassador for my country but how I would represent my country is what I looked forward to the most. I can happily say I have represented my country well. Even when I hand over the crown; I will not say that my work is done because I still have the Miss Fespam title which I will handover in 2015. So I still have a lot to do, like inspiring young Rwandans especially those in rural areas,” she said. Kayibanda is a second year student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology where she is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering. She became Miss Rwanda in her first year at university.  But she has managed to balance studies and her role as Miss Rwanda. “In order for me to balance school and the crown which comes with a lot of travelling, I only travel during the holidays. If I completely indulged myself in the activities that come with being Miss Rwanda, it meant I would have to abandon school which is not good.  I’m also happy about the way my fellow students and lecturers treat me. I’m treated as any other student,” the beauty queen explained. The beauty queen is doing Civil Engineering at university to prove to people with misconceptions that the course is not for only boys but girls can also excel at it. “I want to leave a legacy, not only the fact that I was Miss Rwanda, but I will be extremely happy if my grandchildren are told that the engineer behind a certain beautiful building was their grandmother Aurore,” Kayibanda revealed. ...

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The emergence of the Bhikkhuni Sangha (monkhood for women) in Thailand

Has its time come? If one takes a close look at Thai society today, it could be argued that it is primarily the women who run daily affairs. In a country where females outnumber males, the gender dynamics of the nation have dramatically shifted over the last few decades to where women fulfill many of the major roles in society. The majority of university enrollments are women, the breadwinners in many families are women, many corporate executives and civil servants are women, the majority of new entrepreneurial start-ups are undertaken by women, and even many farmers are women. Dr. Siriwan Ratanakarn from Bangkok University in a paper on the women’s role in Thai society discusses the important contributions made by such women as Nang Suang, Sikhara Maha-Devi, Nang Nopamas, Queen Suriyothai, Queen Saovabhaphongsri, and Queen Sirikit. She states that these women have helped to shape Thai culture, customs, and traditions either as regents themselves or as direct advisors to their kings. She also points out how, during the Sukhothai period, women were portrayed as equal partners to men. Through literature, we can note that women’s status became much lower through the Ayutthaya period, where they were portrayed as obedient wives and daughters. Siriwan believes that women in Thailand have come a long way since then. However, even with general acceptance about the emerging importance of the matriarchal role of women in society today, there is still one last bastion forbidden to women. This is the domain of the Buddhist monkhood, something that has been strictly taboo for women in Thailand for the last seven centuries. Although women were given the right to vote back in 1932, they were never given the right to be ordained as a monk. There is nothing in the Thai constitution forbidding women becoming monks. However the Sangha council which governs the monkhood continues to maintain that only men can enter the monkhood. This is based upon the Sangha Act 1928, which to all intents and purposes is still upheld as being valid. The Theravada Bhikkhuni order was never “officially” established in Thailand, although it exists in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The absence of Bhikkhuni in Thailand over the last century has led to the perception among many Thais that women are not meant to play a monastic role in life other than being a lay follower, or becoming a Mae Ji, or nun. Although a Mae Ji is higher than a lay person, this place within the monastic hierarchy tends to be seen as subservient to monks. In addition, monks receive free public transport, reserved seats in public places, and government identity cards, which Mae Ji, just aren’t entitled to. This restricts women in the monastic hierarchy to only participating in activities of obtaining merit through collective rituals, and undertaking the housekeeping activities within a temple. Basically they are there to serve the monks. A common perception by many within Thai society about nuns, is that while they are robed in white, they are most probably present in the temple because they have no other place to go, suffer from a broken relationship, have a psychotic disorder, or have very little education. Consequently robed nuns tend to be looked down upon, with the general belief in some quarters that women are of less value than their male counterparts in monastic life. To some women, the role of Mae Ji or nun makes them feel very restricted, preventing them from doing more. This is according to Dhammakamala Bhikkhuni, the deputy abbess of the Thippayasathandhamma Bhikkhuni Arama Centre, in Kohyor, Songkhla. To many women who became a Bhikkuni, the feeling of materialism, relationships, and career, began to lose the importance it once had for them. They develop a feeling of emptiness in life, which needs to be quenched through some form of change. However being only a Mae Ji or nun is not enough. ...

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Seychelles’ magic – discovering hidden gems

Travel to the Seychelles is always a much anticipated affair, an affair which in my case has lasted for many years and which keeps growing stronger every time I visit the islands. In my ‘line of business’ I regularly come face to face with luxurious hotels, resorts, safari lodges and safari camps, from the world’s top ranked properties in the Gulf to the award winning boutique collections in Eastern Africa and beyond. Most of these places excel in one key aspect, individuality, though attention to detail, F&B service and superior guest relations, there when you need them and gone when you don’t too are key ingredients to earn them my professional respect and the accolades which go along with them. I am known to rate simple facilities, like for instance the Gorilla Camp in Nkuringo with 5 stars, in its own class that is and in comparison with similar places, while tearing down those self awarded 5 stars where the owners live in cuckoo land and need a serious reality check to learn what the word ‘Luxury’ really entails and involves. Luxury in fact has come to be one of the most abused notions and words in parts of Eastern Africa, and I guess beyond too, at times attributed to having a flush loo and a trickling shower, clogged with sediment, using lukewarm water from a hastily lit ‘Tanganyika boiler’ which is then presented as ‘ecofriendly’. Oh well, those are the trials and tribulation of a travel writer and for most of the time I just endure such places, move on and NOT write about them, though at times I of course do to unmask them and warn off other travellers from expecting too much when they read ‘luxury’ on the websites. Per chance, during this visit to the Seychelles, mainly to cover the Festival Kreol and a series of related events by the Seychelles Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, an opportunity arose to sample a residence, in fact THE RESIDENCE aka www.residenceontherocks.com. I anticipated much, having read up on the place, and yet, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of this it as I entered and stood in awe. I arrived at the main reception of the Banyan Tree Seychelles, got my orientation alongside a scented cold towel and a delicious fruit punch and enjoyed my view from the terrace with rain bucketing down outside as if there was no tomorrow. Well I thought, where I come from in Africa a visitor bringing rain is considered a blessing, and so I assumed my regular upright posture, smiling ear to ear about having brought the rain and ignored the muttering under the breath of other guests who were not amused in the least to be disturbed and marooned inside by courtesy of my gift. ...

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North Korean ship with ‘military cargo’ held by Panama

Panama’s president says his country has seized a North Korean-flagged ship carrying “undeclared military cargo”. President Ricardo Martinelli said the objects were found in containers of sugar President Ricardo Martinelli told local media that the ship, which was sailing from Cuba, contained suspected “sophisticated missile equipment”. He posted a photo of what looked like a large green object inside a cargo container on his Twitter account. He said the ship, which was searched on its way into the Panama Canal, was being held for further investigation. The ship was stopped near Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal. Mr Martinelli said the authorities were checking the ship for drugs when they found the suspected weapons in containers of brown sugar. “We’re going to keep unloading the ship and figure out exactly what was inside,” he told local media. The 35-member crew have been detained, including the captain who the Panamanian president said tried to kill himself during the search. Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said the ship “aroused suspicion by the violent reaction of the captain and the crew”. Missile programme Under UN sanctions, North Korea is banned from weapons exports and the import of all but small arms. Sanctions were strengthened after its third nuclear test on 12 February, including measures increasing states’ authority to inspect suspicious cargo. In recent years a number of North Korean ships have been searched under the UN sanctions. In July 2009 a North Korean ship heading to Burma was tracked by the US navy on suspicion of transporting weapons and subsequently turned around. North Korea has an ongoing missile development programme. In December it launched what it called a three-stage rocket to put a satellite into space. The move was condemned by the United Nations as a banned test of missile technology. Experts believe the communist state is working towards developing a nuclear warhead small enough to put on a long-range missile. BBC

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The £3.7million bangles: Jewelery carved from rare gemstone sell for a fortune as jadeite becomes more valuable than gold

These two bangles that could be mistaken for cheap glow-bands have sold for an incredible £3.7million pounds. Jade a fortune: The bangles were carved from a huge piece of jadeite, which is the most expensive and rarest form of the gemstone jade The bright green bands are a far cry from the plastic bracelets commonly seen in nightclubs and are actually made from an extremely rare gemstone. They were carved from a huge piece of jadeite found in Burma, which is the most expensive and rarest form of the gemstone jade. As almost all of the world’s jadeite is found in the small country, the mines have been exhausted and top quality pieces now sell for huge sums of money. The bracelets, which are just two inches in diameter, are a translucent green colour, which is a shade considered to be one of the most prized forms of the precious stone. They were purchased by a phone bidder at the Tiancheng International Auctioneers sale in Hong Kong for an all-in fee of £3,732,365. Ellen Sin, director of the jewellery department, said: ‘Around 99 per cent of the top quality jadeite is only found in Burma, including this pair of jadeite bangles. ‘As the supply of high grade jade keeps dropping and the mines are being exhausted, exquisite jadeites become highly sought after. ‘They were carved from the same piece of rough and each highly translucent cylindrical jadeite bangle is suffused with a rich bright green colour. ‘Their size is large and as they were carved from the same rough, it would have had to be very big so that there was enough material to carve two similar bangles. ‘The two bangles have a fine texture and translucent with very few impurities, the most desired quality of jadeite. ‘It is so rare to find a big rough with very fine quality texture. ‘They are top quality and when they are carved from the same piece of rough they are invaluable jewels. ‘As its appreciation overtakes that of diamond and gold, this makes jadeite greatly favoured among the wealthy who regard it as one of the major investment items. ‘The beauty, rarity and unique locality of fine jadeite contribute to its collectible value.’ @MailOnline

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Critical Similarities and Differences in SS of Asia and Europe

How to draw the line between the recent and still unsettled EU/EURO crisis and Asia’s success story? Well, it might be easier than it seems: Neither Europe nor Asia has any alternative. The difference is that Europe well knows there is no alternative – and therefore is multilateral. Asia thinks it has an alternative – and therefore is strikingly bilateral, while stubbornly residing enveloped in economic egoisms. No wonder that Europe is/will be able to manage its decline, while Asia is (still) unable to capitalize its successes. Following the famous saying allegedly spelled by Kissinger: “Europe? Give me a name and a phone number!” (when – back in early 1970s – urged by President Nixon to inform Europeans on the particular US policy action), the author is trying to examine how close is Asia to have its own telephone number. Forging a unified voice in Asia (SUN Xi) – The Straits Times By contrasting and comparing genesis of multilateral security structures in Europe with those currently existing in Asia, and by listing some of the most pressing security challenges in Asia, this policy paper offers several policy incentives why the largest world’s continent must consider creation of the comprehensive pan-Asian institution. Prevailing security structures in Asia are bilateral and mostly asymmetric while Europe enjoys multilateral, balanced and symmetric setups (American and African continents too). Author goes as far as to claim that irrespective to the impressive economic growth, no Asian century will emerge without creation of such an institution. For over a decade, many of the relevant academic journals are full of articles prophesizing the 21st as the Asian century. The argument is usually based on the impressive economic growth, increased production and trade volumes as well as the booming foreign currency reserves and exports of many populous Asian nations, with nearly 1/3 of total world population inhabiting just two countries of the largest world’s continent. However, history serves as a powerful reminder by warning us that economically or/and demographically mighty gravity centers tend to expand into their peripheries, especially when the periphery is weaker by either category. It means that any absolute or relative shift in economic and demographic strength of one subject of international relations will inevitably put additional stress on the existing power equilibriums and constellations that support this balance in the particular theater of implicit or explicit structure. Lessons of the Past Thus, what is the state of art of Asia’s security structures? What is the existing capacity of preventive diplomacy and what instruments are at disposal when it comes to early warning/ prevention, fact-finding, exchange mechanisms, reconciliation, capacity and confidence– building measures in the Asian theater? While all other major theaters do have the pan-continental settings in place already for many decades, such as the Organization of American States – OAS (American continent), African Union – AU (Africa), Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – OSCE (Europe), the state-of-arts of the largest world’s continent is rather different. What becomes apparent, nearly at the first glance, is the absence of any pan-Asian security/ multilateral structure. Prevailing security structures are bilateral and mostly asymmetric. They range from the clearly defined and enduring non-aggression security treaties, through less formal arrangements, up to the Ad hoc cooperation accords on specific issues. The presence of the multilateral regional settings is limited to a very few spots in the largest continent, and even then, they are rarely mandated with security issues in their declared scope of work. Another striking feature is that most of the existing bilateral structures have an Asian state on one side, and either peripheral or external protégé country on the other side which makes them nearly per definition asymmetric. The examples are numerous: the US–Japan, the US– S. Korea, the US–Singapore, Russia–India, Australia–East Timor, Russia–North Korea, Japan –Malaysia, China–Pakistan, the US–Pakistan, China–Cambodia, the US–Saudi Arabia, Russia –Iran, China–Burma, India–Maldives, Iran–Syria, N. Korea–Pakistan, etc. Prof. ...

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