News / Asia

    Deadly Crime Story Emerges as Flash Point in Burma

    In Burma, official media are weighing in on a story that rarely gets covered in the government press: crime. The story involves a clash between soldiers and civilians that left two men dead. The incident reportedly had witnesses and comes at a sensitive time ahead of the country's first election in two decades.  

    And now the Burmese government is accusing foreign media of distorting the incident to encourage public unrest.

    Its mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, has described the shooting as a "drunken brawl."  It reports the two men were shot and killed last week when young soldiers opened fire on a group of youths following a traffic accident in the city of Bago. The story explicitly states the incident was not a fight between the military and the public.

    Burma's state-run media rarely report on crime or public discontent. But news of this shooting was so widespread that the government had to respond, says Toe Zaw Latt, the Thai-based bureau chief for the exile-run newspaper, the Democratic Voice of Burma.

    "This is to a kind of counter, to hose-down the anger of the local residents. Because it happened in the middle of downtown and quite a lot of people witnessed it. And quite a lot of people, especially local residents, are very angry about it," he says.

    A lawsuit has been filed against the officers involved, says the New Light of Myanmar, and stresses that Burma's military preserves what it refers to as a "fine tradition" of punishing offending servicemen. The military is routinely criticized by human rights groups for alleged abuse of power and human rights violations.

    Tow Zaw Latt says the incident underscores the Burmese government's concern about public opinion ahead of the November elections.

    "New Light of Myanmar says it is not armed forces and Burmese having quarrel. It is some young army officer and some other local residents," he says. "So they're trying to distinguish this from armed forces. They're trying to maintain their image particularly at this important time."

    The New Light of Myanmar accuses politicians, activists and foreign radio stations of plotting against the government by misleading the people about the deadly fight to incite protests. The report warns the government is preparing to take action against any people who provoke unrest. It did not specify what response authorities are planning.

    The warning comes as the country prepares for its first election since 1990.  In the run-up, several military leaders have shed their uniforms in recent months to join the Union Solidarity and Development Association, the political wing of the military regime. Critics say the party is engaged in an effort to simply rebrand the government's image rather than make institutional changes to a system that has kept the military in power since 1962. But Burmese officials say the vote is a key point on the country's so-called "roadmap to democracy."

    Senior leader General Than Shwe traveled to China last week in what analysts say was an effort to secure Beijing's support for the election.

    On his arrival, General Than Shwe said he was seeking to boost mutual trust and understanding in what he called the "friendly" relationship with Beijing. China shares a border with Burma, where Beijing has significant oil and gas investments.

    China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu also played up the countries' close ties but did not officially endorse Burma's election. China, she said, has a policy of not interfering in another country's internal affairs, and that the international community should refrain from making a negative impact on Burma's political process and regional peace.

    The last time Burma held an election, the opposition defeated the military party by a large margin. But the government never allowed the National League for Democracy to take power. Instead, it has kept opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. Her party is boycotting the upcoming election, calling it is a sham. But other splinter groups are taking part, saying any election is better than nothing.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.