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Myanmar Government Calls Ethnic Armed Groups To Attend Collective Peace Discussions For The First Time
The Myanmar government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) has invited eight ethnic groups that have not signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement to attend collective peace discussions for the first time, officials whose organizations received invitations said Friday.
The political wings of ethnic armed groups that received invitation letters to the talks scheduled for March 21 include the United Wa State Party (UWSP), Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Mongla’s Eastern Shan State Peace and Solidarity Committee (PSC), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), Kokang’s Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party (MNTJP), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), United League of Arakan (ULA) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).
Myanmar’s military negotiation team will meet separately with each of the groups on March 22, they said.
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The letters, dated March 13 and signed by Zaw Htay, government spokesman and director general of President Win Myint’s office, requested that each organization send a team with a leader and a member from their respective ethnic armed groups to meet with government negotiators.
Colonel Naw Bu, spokesman of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed branch of the KIO and the leading group in the Northern Alliance collation of four ethnic armies that operate in northern Myanmar, said he could not yet confirm the Kachins’ participation in the talks because the members of the alliance must first discuss the invitation among themselves.
Khine Thukha, spokesman for the Arakan Army (AA), the armed wing of the ULA which is fighting the Myanmar Army in Rakhine state, said he could not confirm the attendance of AA delegates at the talks because the group’s leaders are still discussing the invitation.
The KNPP said it would participate in the negotiations and would discuss topics based on proposals from the government side.
The invitations also said that Myanmar’s military would discuss the temporary unilateral cease-fire that it declared in December 2018 in five of its command regions to try to kick-start the stalled peace process, when officers meet with delegates from the ethnic organizations.
The truce runs through April, but excludes the Western Command where government soldiers are battling the Arakan Army (AA). The Myanmar military is also engaged in ongoing conflicts with the KIA and the Shan State Army-North, the armed wing of the SSPP, in northern Shan state.
‘More talks coming out of this’
The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) government has held periodic peace conferences in a bid to get the remaining ethnic armies to sign the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA), which 10 ethnic militaries have already inked.
The civilian-led government under State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has made the NCA a prerequisite for ethnic armies to participate in periodic peace negotiations, known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference and the Union Peace Conference, to try to end decades of armed conflict that have stymied the country’s transition to a democratic federal union.
About a dozen ethnic armies have yet to sign the NCA.
The NRPC, chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi, decided to schedule the talks after members of the official Myanmar Peace Commission (MPC) held informal discussions with the KIO, PSLF, MNTJP, and ULA in February in Kunming, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province. Government peace negotiators also met with the KNPP in northern Thailand in March.
The Myanmar military met with the SSPP in February and with the RCSS in March for separate talks.
Hla Maung Shwe, an advisor to the MPC, said the upcoming session will serve as the government’s orientation to the peace process for the NCA non-signatories.
“We have traveled to Kunming and explained the process to seven non-signatory groups from the north,” he said. “We mostly explained the processes for the peace talks after the signing of NCA.”
“We are planning to meet the KNPP in a few days, so the government has now invited all [NCA] non-signatory groups to clarify the situation,” Hla Maung Shwe said.
RFA could not reach Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun for comment.
One Myanmar political analyst said he welcomes the peace talks as a rekindling of negotiations that were put on hold after the third round of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in July 2018. But he cautioned people not to expect too much from next week’s discussions.
“It is good to see peace talks at a time of endless armed confrontations and miscommunications, but we shouldn’t be expecting too much out of these talks,” said political analyst Maung Maung Soe. “I expect, at most, there will be more talks coming out of this later.”
‘Tatmadaw not ready’
International rights groups did not have sanguine views about the new round of talks, noting that Myanmar’s military has not committed to ending violence in the country.
“Over the last several years, it’s been very disappointing to see how the peace process has essentially failed,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Southeast Asia-based Fortify Rights.
“One of the things we’re most concerned about in the failure of the peace process is the fact that the military has continued to commit human rights violations against civilians while talking about trying to establish peace, and these two things obviously are inconsistent with each other,” he said.
Smith also called for more genuine dialogue among stakeholders for the peace process to have a chance to succeed.
“When the fighting continues, when the attacks continue, when human rights violations continue, that leads people that are involved in the process to think that it’s disingenuous, and that harms the overall process,” he said.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, also blamed the Myanmar military for the country’s foundering peace efforts.
“It appears that the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] is not ready to offer any meaningful concessions for the ethnic groups, nor is it prepared to allow for any degree of autonomy for ethnic organizations to operate their own affairs,” he said. “I don’t know why the Burmese government continues to follow the lead of the Burmese military, when it’s clear that the military often does not want peace.”
The military’s positions in terms of the NCA—the failure to deal with basic political issues during peace talks, its unwillingness to restrain its soldiers, its unwillingness to end attacks against civilians, and the way it operates in ethnic minority regions—are the reasons why the peace negotiations have gone nowhere, he said.
Robertson also said the government’s working in lockstep with the powerful armed forces has meant that the military’s positions have influenced the administration in a way that has been unhelpful.
“Unless the government is prepared to deal with the rights-abusing behavior of the Tatmadaw, it’s going to be very, very difficult to see any sort of peace,” he said.
Two injured in Rakhine skirmish
In violence ridden Rakhine state, meanwhile, a clash between the Myanmar Army and AA in Mrauk-U township on Thursday injured two villagers, one of whom was seriously wounded and had to be taken to a hospital in the state capital Sittwe for urgent treatment, said local volunteers who helped the men.
The two men—one from Bu Ywat Ma Hnyo village and the other from Mrauk-U town’s Aung Tat ward—were injured during a skirmish near Waitharli village situated on the Yangon-Sittwe Highway, they said.
“Twenty-five year-old Maung Soe Win is in critical condition because he was hit above his pubic bone and had to be taken to Sittwe Hospital to receive surgery,” said Mrauk-U resident Than Tun.
AA spokesman Khine Thukha confirmed that Arakan fighters attacked a government army column near Waitharli village.
Government troops responded by shooting to the direction of Bu Ywat Ma Hnyo village near the ambush site, wounding the two villagers and damaging some houses, area residents said.
RFA could not reach a Myanmar military spokesman for comment.
The Myanmar military has been engaged in deadly clashes with the AA in several Rakhine townships, including Mrauk-U, since hostilities between the two sides reignited in late 2018.
The hostilities have left an undetermined number of people dead and displaced more than 12,000, according to estimates by local and official sources in Rakhine state. (RFA)
Following a huge growth in his personal fortune, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has renewed his promise to "extend life to Mars". According to The Star, Musk's wealth has swelled to an astonishing $230 billion. Or a whopping 861 billion Dodgecoin, a cryptocurrency backed by the entrepreneur after he was reported to have invested millions.
Musk is now richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined, both individuals who had previously held the rich list title. "Elon Musk (with a net worth equal to 861 billion #Dogecoin) is now richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett COMBINED!" popular crypto YouTuber Matt Wallace's tweeted.
To which Musk said: "Hopefully enough to extend life to Mars". "Have no doubt you will make it happen," Wallace responded. CEO investments, the creators of Dogecoin, also responded backing Musk's plans every step of the way. The SpaceX Mars programme was initiated by Musk to colonize Mars after he first conceptualized the project back in 2001. SpaceX's aspirational goal has been to land the first humans on Mars by 2024, but in October 2020 Musk named 2024 as the goal for an uncrewed mission. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: investments, combined, SpaceX, billion, Elon musk, tesla
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
A perfume is an essential part of dressing up. Studies confirm that we feel more confident about ourselves if the final touches of our routine is a spritz of lingering perfume. However, how often do you feel that your perfume doesn't last long enough? How often do you feel that the fragrance disappears in a few hours? This is quite a common problem. Let's learn a few hacks to keep you smelling gorgeous all day.
Wearing your perfume right after the shower
Our skin tends to hold onto some moisture right after a shower. This moisture helps to lock the fragments that extend your perfume's longevity.
Our skin tends to hold onto some moisture right after a shower. | Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash
Moisturize Your Skin
Remember to moisturize your skin before wearing a perfume. Moisturised skin tends to stick to the fragrance compared to dry skin. You can moisturize at a certain location, such as your wrists or neck, and then spray your perfume.
Remember to moisturize your skin before wearing a perfume. | Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash
Different concentration levels of perfume make the fragrance last for different periods of time. A higher concentrated perfume like Eau de Parfum or 'Ittra' will last longer. Lower concentrated perfumes like Eau de Cologne or Eau de Toilette tend to last for a lower period of time as compared to EDP or Attars. Here is a detailed breakup of the concentrate percentage in different forms of a perfume:
Eau de Cologne -- 2 - 8 per cent
Eau de Toilette -- 8-15 per cent
Eau de Parfum -- 15- 25 per cent
Ittra/Attar -- 100 per cent concentrate
Always consider the climate/ weather
The weather should also be taken into account when selecting the perfume. It is best to wear Eau-de-Parfums and attars in tropical climates like India since it allows the scent to remain longer. That's why Attar is very popular.
Use the pulse points
There are certain pulse points on our body that are considered warmer than the rest of the body. Our pulse points are:
* Behind the ears, collar bone, inside of the wrists, inside of the elbows, shoulders, naval, behind the knees and ankles.
* These pulse points help diffuse the fragrance better and allow you to smell gorgeous all day.
The right way to wear your perfume
We've frequently seen videos showing fragrances on the wrists, rubbing them against one another. Do not do so. The wrist rubbing accelerates the process of evaporation and also removes the top notes and part of the middle notes. If you want your perfume to last longer, apply the perfume to the aforementioned pulse points and then let them evaporate at a sweet pace. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: moisturize, concentrated, concentrated, fragrance, pulse, perfume
By Vishnu Makhijani
Back in the 1960s, the national capital was a "quiet and safe place" where women were not harmed and you could sleep on your terrace "without locking the main house door". Then, "a nouveau riche class prospered" and outwardly, New Delhi today "is a beautiful city" but "beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases".Still, Malayalam author M. Mukundan is nostalgic about a city where he lived for 40 long years before moving back to his hometown of Mahe and this prompted him to write "Delhi - A Soliloquy", translated by Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K (Westland/Eka) that has been shortlisted for the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature, India's richest literary award. "When I was in Delhi, I felt nostalgic about Mahe. Now it is the other way round - I'm nostalgic about Delhi. There's no ideal place to live in, where you are that is your home," Mukundan, four of whose works have been adapted for the big screen, told IANS in an interview.
"In the early 60s when I arrived in Delhi, it was a quiet and safe place. There were villages within the city. After seeing a late night movie at the Race Course theatre, women and children would walk down to Lodhi Colony past midnight. No woman was harmed. "In summer, we used to sleep on the charpoys spread out on the terraces of our houses without locking the main house door down below. It was a city anybody will dream of living. And then Delhi changed all of a sudden - a brutal, grotesque change. "Factories and commercial establishments came up, attracting unemployed poor people from other states. Building mafias destroyed villages and fields and built ugly high-rise buildings. Poor people were pushed away to filthy slums where they led a wretched life of deprivation. Throwing away all values, a nouveau riche class prospered. Outwardly, Delhi is a beautiful city. But beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases," Mukundan elaborated.
A Soliloquy" is the story of the changes and growth of the city with Sahadevan's life as the backdrop. Wikimedia Commons
"The book is a rambling, intimate epic. It captures what it means to be a small person in a big capital. How the relentless wave of history impacts these marginal people who have come to Delhi in search for a better life. Mukundan has brought to life the very real characters in this book with great sincerity? All through the novel you are looking at the small things and through them understanding the big," the JCB Jury said of the book. Narrated by Sahadevan, a Keralite who moves to Delhi in his twenties, "Delhi: A Soliloquy" is the story of the changes and growth of the city with Sahadevan's life as the backdrop. Journeying through life, he comes across immigrants scattered across the capital city, all struggling in their own ways. The book is about forging friendships, and finding his own people in a city he comes to call home.
"I lived in Delhi for nearly 40 years. For 36 years I worked on a Diplomatic Mission while the remaining four years I spent on wandering. My wanderlust always helps me in my creative pursuits. When I have a sense of belonging to a place, I feel like writing about it. "I developed strong bonds with Delhi. That's why I wanted very much to write about what I've experienced, I've seen or I've heard of in this city. Long ago I told myself that I should one day write a novel about this hypnotic city. And I wrote it, though many years later," Mukundan elaborated. Being a witness to the events he's described in the book, "everything I had experienced I wove into the novel. Of course to avoid factual errors and anachronisms I had to check dates and names of places. That was a process that lingered all through the writing of the novel". It's been almost 20 years since he moved back to Mahe. What has the transition been like? After retiring in 2004 from the French Embassy, where he worked in the cultural section and for which he was honored by the French government, he said he didn't want to leave Delhi immediately but the Kerala government nominated him as the president of its Sahitya Akademi. "So I came back home, back on the banks of my beloved Mayyazhi river. Life here is exhilarating. But I miss a lot - Delhi's Press Club, IIC and India Habitat Centre," Mukundan said. Speaking about his work in the French Embassy, he said he thoroughly enjoyed it. "I was part of the French team that brought to India Picasso's original works. I could meet and interact with a large number of French intellectuals such as the legendary Regis Debray and Jacques Derrida. I used to write speeches for the Ambassadors. At a time when there wasn't Internet or Google, it was a tough job. "Want to know what parting gift the Embassy gave me? Twenty-four bottles of wine, neatly packed in two cartons; all sorts of wine some costing a fortune," Mukundum said. There is also the insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters awarded to him in 1998.
As for his books that have been adapted for the big screen, Mukundan said only one came out very well - "God's Mischief". | Wikimedia Commons
As for his books that have been adapted for the big screen, Mukundan said only one came out very well - "God's Mischief". "This was adapted from the novel by the same name. The director of the film Lenin Rajendran (a die-hard communist as his name suggests) and I wrote the scenario together. 'God's Mischief' won the State Award for the best feature film. The worst was 'Savithri's Girdle'. I didn't write the scenario for this. I only gave the producer the film rights. I could watch the film only for about 15 minutes and then I walked out of the theatre. To date, I haven't seen the remaining part of the film. It was unbearable. Now I give film rights of my stories only if I could write the scenario myself. Such a film is now in the making - 'The Autorickshaw Driver's Wife', based on my story by the same name. Shooting will begin next month," Mukundan concluded. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Author, Writer, Mukundan, Delhi, Marathi, Film, Book, Kerela, Home