VOA Burmese Blog

August 16, 2012

President Thein Sein on Rohingyas in an Exclusive Intv with VOA Burmese


This is a blog post that I have been waiting to put up for a very long time. With so many people distraught and in a sensitive state, I’ve refrained a lot from writing my own thoughts. I hope that this interview that VOA Burmese chief, Than Lwin Htun with President Thein Sein discloses the attitude and state that Burma is in. This was the first time President Thein Sein had talked about “Rohingyas” in an interview, and VOA was the first to get this rare opportunity. VOA Burmese Chief traveled to Naypyidaw, and had gotten this interview.

Although this interview has spurred controversy ( for example) on the use of President Thein Sein’s language in calling Rohingyas, ” Bengalis”, many believe that this is a great light for all of Burma. I think these are the four important points of the interview:

1.) On the education system and in implementing schools in Burma- Thein Sein says he will open schools for Rohingyas ” so they can know what is right or wrong” but he does not see them as citizens.

2.) Thein Sein said that the sectarian violence is not a religious issue. He says that it is ignited by the rape and murder of a young girl by Rohingya men.

3.) Thein Sein on Rohingya Citizenship ( direct translation): ” We have the citizenship legislation of 1982, which as far as I know gave protection to those who are living here. Roughly, as I know, these people were brought in for farming; then they stayed here without going back. The 1982 legislation already stated that it recognizes third generation Rohingyas ” Bengalis” as citizens- those who are grandchildren of those who migrated. So by implementing this law again, we will make these societies live in harmony and respect human rights. ”

4.) They invite the international community such as the OIC and other organizations to witness the on the ground situation. However, he said that this is a national problem and that international organizations are not needed.

What do you think about the interview? What do you think about what President Thein Sein had said?

In an exclusive interview with VOA Burmese Chief, Than Lwin Htun, Burma’s President Thein Sein discloses that he and his government will open schools for Rohingya Muslims who have accused the Buddhist majority of human rights violations and the persecution of the Rohingya people. Thein Sein believes that through education- the different communities may be able to live in harmony, while noting that Rohingyas should not be given Burmese citizenship.

Write to us and let us know what you think of President Thein Sein’s thoughts on the conflict in the comment section below.

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August 3, 2012

VOA Visitors


We received some visitors at VOA the other day. It was such a wonderful treat to talk to them about journalism, broadcasting, jobs and attaining their dreams despite any obstacles that come their way.

We talked about our own personal experiences on how we got here to VOA, our own presentation style and the skills that we needed to get a job.

Fifteen Burmese high school students visited VOA. Most of them are living in Indiana at the moment; they came to see Washington with their mentors on a summer vacation/visit.

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HIV AIDS Conference 2012


Ko Thar Nyunt Oo and I went to the 19th International AIDS conference at the Washington E. Convention center in Washington. There were so many people there from all around the world. People took the stage to speak about many topics and issues – on research, policy and how to cope with HIV/AIDS.

The second video that Ko Thar reported on was about the Red Ribbon Award Winners. Burma’s, The Help group had received the prestigious award. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi even had a special message to the audience. She gave a special thank you to the volunteers who are helping with the issue of AIDS and HIV. Everyone should be aware about HIV-AIDS- how to help others living with it and how to prevent the spread of it. The AIDS conference takes place every two years. Four years ago, it took place in Mexico. This year it takes place in the US; in two years, it’ll take place in Australia.

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Producer/ Reporter: Thar Nyunt Oo

Videographer/ Editor : Kaye Lin

May 8, 2012

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Awards Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with the Elie Wiesel Award


The Elie Wiesel Tribute dinner was held to honor leaders who have made a difference in their communities and for humanity. Elie Wiesel himself is a fellow Nobel Laureate and a Holocaust survivor who had seen the brutality of mankind during the Holocaust, yet his faith stayed intact. This year, the United States Holocaust museum bestowed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with the honor of the Elie Wiesel award for her struggle towards democracy in non-violent means as she continues to fight- unshaken.

Elie Wiesel: “She’s an extraordinary human being with ideals and ideas. And all of these ideals and ideas are all there- not only for her own sake but for her country. And beyond that, to all of the people- men and women – anywhere and everywhere in the world- where ever people suffer. She is part of my consciousness – of my moral obligations. She should know that she’s not alone.”

Like Elie Wiesel, Ms. Gerda Weissman Klein is a Holocaust survivor, and she has experienced atrocities unimaginable. As she recalls the cruelty of mankind during the time of the Nazis, she also remembers the strength and resilience of the Jewish people which gave her as well as others freedom inevitably.

Ms. Gerda Weissman Klein: ” You, Madame, so far away in Burma, must know that you have inspired all those who look to the moon and who look to you who has been the guiding stars to so many who have lived in peril and in slavery. I too, have been deprived of freedom for 6 years in Nazi, Germany. Emptiness can be so heavy. How cries of pain can be so silent, yet you Madame are in every heart, every thought- of those present here tonight and all those who have worked for freedom and to the millions who are still yearning for freedom.”

Despite the despair that the memory of the Holocaust brings, ultimately, the night echoed the theme of courage and hope. Actress, Natalie Portman bestowed the Elie Viesel award to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by reading a speech of hers from her book,“ Freedom from Fear”.

Natalie Portman: ” Here is what she said: It is not power that corrupts, but fear. It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it…”

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had words of her own for the tribute dinner. She spoke via a pre-recorded video.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: “There are certain things we must not forget, because we would not like these to be repeated in the future. And I thank and honor all of you who are trying to make known to the world- what should not happen again. And individuals can make all the difference- individuals who survive in spite of the greatest cruelty – in spite of the greatest trials and to teach other people that it’s possible to survive. And to you all who have not only survived but helped others to survive – by speaking of your experiences- and by teaching them how to be brave and how NOT to lose your integrity in the face of the greatest difficulty. I would like to say, “ Thank you. I honor you. I respect you. And I hope that I too will be able to be like you.”

With on going talks between the United States and Burma, White House Chief of Staff, Jack Lew spoke of the Lady of Burma.

Jack Lew: ” Many times Daw Suu could’ve decided that she had done enough that it was someone else’s turn to sacrifice. But she refused to give up. Instead she continued to inspire the entire world with her faith in nonviolent action and her belief that freedom would ultimately prove greater than tyranny.”

The dinner was a successful charity event, which honored the lives that were lost during the Holocaust and commemorated the past while at the same time reassuring that such a tragedy never happens again. As the United States and the Western world is reaching out to engage in Burma’s new transition to democracy, all eyes are on the Lady of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with her extensive belief in the nation’s reform towards freedom.

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Burmese Version:

Producers: Thet Su Naing/ Kaye Lin

Assistant Producer: Lwin Nyein Chan Kyaw

Reporters: Thet Su Naing / Kaye Lin

Videography: Lwin Nyein Chan Kyaw / Kaye Lin

May 3, 2012

Interview with Priscilla Clapp- Former Charge D’ Affaires of Burma


Priscilla Clapp- Former Charge D’Affaires of Burma and current Senior Adviser to Asia Society, joins VOA’s Khin Soe Win to talk about Burma’s new reforms and what these reforms could mean for the future of the country. She also speaks about the challenges that Burma has to face in building this new democracy -which she explains is more than just rhetoric. She says that Burma is no longer a one man top down system-meaning, that the military is no longer the primary rule. There are different branches that have to be built and established in a democracy and it will take some time.
English Version:

Burmese Version:

The EU and the US Easing Sanctions on Burma


The United States and the European Union have said that it will follow and reward Burma’s democratic reforms, and they have been bargaining. As the new government led by President Thein Sein enacted in a series of democratic changes such as granting amnesty on some political prisoners and announcing greater press freedom, the United States, Australia, European Union including Norway, Britain have rewarded those reforms by lifting some long-standing sanctions against Burma.

During the 1990’s, the European Union and America imposed sanctions on Burma for its human rights abuses. Sanctions on Burma drove the country closer to its big superpower neighbor, China, and the Burmese government is looking forward to attract more foreign investors as analysts disclose the Burmese government’s growing exhaustion of China taking advantage of its resources. The videos show case the World Bank’s forum on Burma’s progress towards economic reforms discussing the removal of the sanctions and the humanitarian issues that still face the country.

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