Spotlight on...

Spotlight on Africa

Africa

Farmer moving drought-affected cattle in southern Ethiopia, March 2006 (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Stories from recent years covering issues such as war in Darfur, drought in Kenya, drugs in Ethiopia, slums in Freetown, starting business in Nairobi, independence in South Sudan.
Spotlight on Burma

Burma

Tin Maung Win (pseudonym), a Burmese prisoner of war being held by rebels in Kachin State near the Burma-China border. (Photo: Simon Roughneen, December 2012). A military dictatorship for almost 50 years, Burma's recent reforms have legitimised western business interests as governments remove sanctions. However sectarian and ethnic fighting continues in Kachin, while Buddhist-Muslim tensions have erupted into violence in Arakan in the west and in central Burma.
Spotlight on Cambodia

Cambodia

Landgrabs, corruption, allegations of racism and, as it turned out, claims by the opposition that the vote was flawed, all overshadowed July 2013 elections in Cambodia. Both Hun Sen's long-ruling Cambodian People's Party and the opposition, led by Sam Rainsy, are claiming victory after a contest notable for the high percentage of young voters, and, it seems, the fading memory of the brutal Khmer Rouge era. Photo – Boeng Kak lake in central Phnom Penh. Sand now occupies the former lake, the landfill serving as the foundation for what will be a hotel/office complex, in what has been possibly Cambodia's best-known landgrab case. Photo taken by Simon Roughneen, Nov. 2012.
Spotligh on Haiti

Haiti

One of tens of thousands of buildings felled in Port-au-Prince during the Jan.12 2010 earthquake (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Around 220,000 people were killed with 3 million more left homeless. Some reports here from the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
Spotlight on India

India

Men waiting to board train from Bangalore, India's IT hub, to Guwahati, a day's travel away in India's northeast (Photo: Simon Roughneen). India's economy has stalled in the past year or so, with the government slow to reform in key sectors. Hundreds of millions of Indians have seen improved living standards in recent years, but, underlining the challenges of governing this vast country, hundreds of millions more remain poor. Some related stories here.
Spotlight on Kosovo

Kosovo

Posters in Pristina thanking the UK for its role in helping Kosovo break from Serbia (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Serbia and allies such as Russia opposed Kosovo's independence, with protests in Belgrade and Mitrovica right after the Feb. 2008 independence declaration.
Spotlight on Malaysia

Malaysia

After several opposition-backed protests by Malaysians seeking reform of what they see as a rigged electoral system, the May 2013 election saw a narrow win for the Barisan Nasional, who lost the popular vote but retained office via what the opposition said was a gerrymander. Photo – Police fire teargas at protestors seeking changes to the electoral system. Taken by Simon Roughneen, Kuala Lumpur, July 2011.
Spotlight on The Middle East

Middle East

Impact of shelling and gunfire at a Sunni-Alawite interface in Tripoli, Lebanon. (Photo: Simon Roughneen, August 2008). This same street has seen fighting again in early 2013, partly an extension of sectarian clashes in Syria. Here are some stories from Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank from 2008 and 2010.
Spotlight on Pakistan

Pakistan

Stories from Kashmir after the 2005 earthquake, and from Sindh after the 2010 floods. These children were left homeless by the 2010 floods and had spent 2 weeks sleeping outdoors on the outskirts of Sukkur, Sindh Province by the time I took this photo.
Spotlight on The Philippines

The Philippines

The Manila metro (Photo: Simon Roughneen). As of mid 2012, The Philippines was growing economically, but relations with China remain thorny. While the country had peaceful and free elections in 2010, issues such as impunity for murders of journalists, corruption, and poverty in urban slum areas persist.
Spotloght on Thailand

Thailand

Redshirt protestors fire home-made weapons at Thai army positions in Bangkok during 2010 anti-government protests (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Stories here from Thailand on those protests, 2011 floods, harsh conditions facing Burmese migrants in Thailand, and more.
Spotlight on Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste

Supporters of opposition party FRETILIN rally prior to East Timor's July 2012 parliamentary elections (Photo: Simon Roughneen). After the departure of International peacekeepers and the last UN mission, Timor-Leste faces the challenge of using gas and oil revenues to boost living standards and create a more diverse economy, before the resources run out.
Spotlight on Vietnam

Vietnam

Traffic in Hanoi (Photo: Simon Roughneen). Vietnam's economy has sputtered in recent years, after a decade of high growth and hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment. Recent corruption scandals and whispers of in-fighting among the ruling Communist Party has been accompanied by more jailings of government critics, highlighting the one-party state's intolerance of dissent.

Featured Articles

Letter from Kampar: winning the election, losing Malaysia - Foreign Affairs

KAMPAR, MALAYSIA - He wouldn't give his full name or his age -- except to say that he had vivid childhood memories of Japan's World War II occupation of Malaysia -- but Lee, a Chinese-Malaysian shopkeeper in Kampar, a onetime tin-mining hub in the northwestern Malaysian state of Perak, didn't ...

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Syrian refugee Reina's disfigured arm (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Syria's war shadow lengthens over Lebanon - The Edge Review

DALHAMIEH, Lebanon – Rolling up a green dress sleeve, 12-year-old Syrian refugee Reina murmurs “chemical, chemical.” Her arm, what's left of it, is distorted, wrinked and swollen – looking more more like a gnarled and ancient tree root than a human limb.

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Old town of L'Aquila, four years after the earthquake (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

L'Aquila, four years on - The Edge Review

L'AQUILA, Italy – The three bottles of red wine sit corked on the table, exactly where they were that night almost four years ago, when a deadly earthquake hit this mountainside town in central Italy.

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Burmese generals ignore ceasefire order and launch air attacks on Christian rebels – The Times

Burmese generals ignore ceasefire order and launch air attacks on Christian rebels - The Times

LAIZA- He was fixing his car when the shell landed in front of the simple home where he and his family lived as fruit farmers. There was no warning, no chance to escape and nothing that could be done to save him.

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Thais cheer as King Bhumibol Adulyadej appears at Bangkok Royal Plaza on Wednesday Dec. 5 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

King's birthday marks time-out in Thailand's game of thrones - Christian Science Monitor

BANGKOK - The royalist factions who ousted Thaksin in 2006 “cannot be happy that Thaksin’s sister is prime minister,” says Paul Handley, author of “The King Never Smiles,” an unauthorized biography of King Bhumibol banned in Thailand. “I think that limits her ability to begin normalizing politics away from palace ...

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MAG scanning for mines near Seksak village (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Castles in the Cambodian sand - Asia Sentinel/RTÉ World Report

Seksak, Battambang Province, Cambodia - As Cambodia''s economy zips along at 7-10 percent growth over much of the last decade, the government insists it is trying to build what it calls a sustainable land policy, including reclaiming terrain lost to landmines and bombs. But others say a corrupt and Chinese-influenced ...

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Scottish independence: Who would get the nukes, and other questions – Christian Science Monitor

Scottish independence: Who would get the nukes, and other questions - Christian Science Monitor

EDINBURGH- As it considers a 2014 referendum on independence from the UK, Scotland still has a litany of issues that must be resolved beforehand, including its role in the EU and NATO.

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Elections mark East Timor’s second major transition since independence – Christian Science Monitor

Elections mark East Timor's second major transition since independence - Christian Science Monitor

DILI, East Timor - FRETILIN leader Mari Alkatiri on Tuesday repeated a call made before the vote for East Timor's old guard political leaders to forge a grand bargain – regardless of the result – for handing power over to younger politicians. “Sooner or later we have to hand political ...

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After Arakan violence, disquiet on the western front – The Irrawaddy

After Arakan violence, disquiet on the western front - The Irrawaddy

SITTWE, Arakan State, Burma - “Most Arakanese people are quite angry at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Shwe Maung, a teacher in Sittwe and central committee member of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, which has 16 representatives in Burma’s national-level parliament houses. He was referring to the National ...

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For Kolkata’s brickmakers, small steps matter – Christian Science Monitor

For Kolkata's brickmakers, small steps matter - Christian Science Monitor

KOLKATA, INDIA - On the outskirts of India's third-largest city, 5,000 partly blackened chimneys stand 100 feet high, belching smoke into the sky over millions of reddened bricks below. Some of the bricks are stacked neatly into huge square-cornered stacks, and still more, innumerable, are piled roughly – some broken, ...

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Latest Articles

Ceasefire talks make progress despite Kachin war – The Irrawaddy

May 23rd, 2014

irrawaddy

http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/ceasefire-talks-progress-despite-kachin-war.html

President’s Office Minister Aung Min conferring with army delegates at ceasefire talks in Rangoon on Thursday. (Photo: Simon Roughneen

President’s Office Minister Aung Min conferring with army delegates at ceasefire talks in Rangoon on Thursday. (Photo: Simon Roughneen

RANGOON — As representatives of Burma’s government and ethnic militias met this week to finish a second draft of a proposed nationwide ceasefire accord, it appeared that negotiations were largely unaffected by fighting in the country’s north.

“We are not discussing ongoing issues on the battlefield—we were discussing issues of the text,” Salai Lian H. Sakhong, director of the Burma Centre for Ethnic Studies and a representative of the Chin National Front (CNF), one of the ethnic militias, told The Irrawaddy on Friday after three days of negotiations in Rangoon.

He said the conflict in Kachin State needed to end before a nationwide ceasefire could be signed, but that the government and leaders of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had effectively carved off their war from the broader ceasefire discussions.

“The KIA and the government met separately in Myitkyina not so long ago,” he said, referring to talks in the Kachin State capital earlier this month. (more…)


Meth-making – The Edge Review

May 21st, 2014

THEREVIEW-LOGO

Myanmar at the heart of Asia’s synthetic drugs boom

www.theedgereview.com – app/digital magazine available here (subscription required)

Male detainees at the KIA drug rehabilitation facility in Laiza (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Male detainees at the KIA drug rehabilitation facility in Laiza (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – Located at the intersection of China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, the Golden Triangle has long been a legendary cocktail mixing the real and the mythological. Verdant and clotted jungles and remote mountainous terrain – havens for an alphabet soup of anti-junta militias and oppressed tribes – made for a heady romanticism that sometimes obscured the deadly reality of the region’s chief cash crop.

Until the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the region supplied much of the world’s heroin, sourced from poppy-fields in eastern and northern Myanmar. The drugs came, and come, from regions sometimes in and sometimes outside of central government control, and have long been a source of income for corrupt officials and soldiers, as well as ethnic minority druglords and warlords. (more…)


Not so improbable – The Edge Review

May 14th, 2014

THEREVIEW-LOGO

After Thailand’s anti-government leader appeals to Senate for unelected PM, protestors killed in grenade attack

www.theedgereview.com – app/digital magazine available here (subscription required)

Redshirt leader Jatuphon Prompan speaks at rally on Aksa Road west of Bangkok, May 10 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Redshirt leader Jatuphon Prompan speaks at rally on Aksa Road west of Bangkok, May 10 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

BANGKOK – In most electoral democracies, it would have been an improbable scene.

Despite facing arrest warrants for insurrection and murder, an anti-government protest leader was escorted by security into the country’s parliament house, where he lobbied the senate head to replace Thailand’s elected government with an appointed administration.

The body language suggested that protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban was no mere supplicant. A row of senators led by Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertcha greeted Mr Suthep, clasping hands and smiling as if deferring to the bluff former Deputy Prime Minister.  (more…)


Judicial storm-clouds hang over Thai economy, politics – Nikkei Asian Review

May 9th, 2014

Nikkei

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Judicial-storm-clouds-hang-over-Thai-economy-politics

Thailand's anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets supporters near Bangkok's central Ratchaprasong intersection on Jan.13 2014 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Thailand’s anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets supporters near Bangkok’s central Ratchaprasong intersection on Jan.13 2014 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

BANGKOK — Thailand’s bitter political divide widened this week after two separate rulings by legal institutions forced Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office and raised the possibility that she could be banned from politics for five years.

The developments also cast doubt over Thai national elections planned for July 20 after the country’s Constitutional Court voided the results of an earlier poll on Feb. 2, citing disruptions by anti-government protesters that prevented the poll from being completed nationwide in a single day, as required by the country’s constitution. (more…)


Thailand court ousts prime minister after abuse-of-power verdict – Los Angeles Times

May 7th, 2014

LATimes Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 02.04.12

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-thailand-prime-minister-yingluck-shinawatra-forced-out-20140507-story.html

http://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-globalist/659/ - on Monocle radio’s The Globalist, with much the same

Advisor to Yingluck Shinawatra, Dr Bhokin Blalaluka, addresses media at Peau Thai headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday after the cout verdict against the Government was announced (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Advisor to Yingluck Shinawatra, Dr Bhokin Blalaluka, addresses media at Peau Thai headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday after the cout verdict against the Government was announced (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

By Simon Roughneen and Shashank Bengali

BANGKOK – In a controversial ruling that deepened Thailand’s political crisis, the country’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to leave office, ruling that she abused her powers when she transferred a government official from his post three years ago.

The court also demanded the removal of several of Yingluck’s cabinet ministers who it said were complicit in the transfer, throwing the status of her caretaker government into uncertainty ahead of elections scheduled for July. (more…)


A fragile process – The Edge Review

May 6th, 2014

THEREVIEW-LOGO

www.theedgereview.com – app/digital magazine available here (subscription required)

Pictured at a camp in Mai Ja Yang near the Burma -China border in early 2012, this man was driven from his home in northern Shan state by fighting between the Burmese army and the KIA (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Pictured at a camp in Mai Ja Yang near the Burma -China border in early 2012, this man was driven from his home in northern Shan state by fighting between the Burmese army and the KIA (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Peace talks with Myanmar’s minority militias inch forward

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN / Yangon

Inside the Myanmar Peace Center, a Yangon-based governmental body, a line of green-uniformed generals and white-shirted government officials reached across the narrow line of tables dividing the hall in two, each taking the hand of a representative of the country’s ethnic minority militias. Some of the latter wore suits, while others wore tribal dress. Both sides wore smiles, some perhaps a bit more forced than others, and all paused hand-in-hand to pose for a few seconds for a dozen or so jostling photographers.

Myanmar has been host to some of the world’s longest-running civil wars. These grueling, decades-long campaigns have played out in the country’s impoverished, drug-producing mountain borderlands and jungles , and have been marked by numerous instances of forced labour, abduction of children and sexual violence carried out by government troops. More than 100,000 refugees from the violence remain in Thailand, thousands more are in China, while tens of thousands have settled in the West. Inside Myanmar, there are hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by conflicts old and new. (more…)


Myanmar’s displaced Rohingya face bleak rainy season – Nikkei Asian Review

May 2nd, 2014

Nikkei

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Cyclone-season-poses-fresh-threat-in-Rakhine-state

*Mohamed Akbar pictured at his hut at Maw Son Nyat camp (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

*Mohamed Akbar pictured at his hut at Maw Son Nya camp (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

MAW SON NYA, Myanmar — Mohamed Akbar*, a 32-year old father of five, cannot move. Lying on a bed of old rags, he struggles to even turn his head toward the sunlight glinting through the door of his family’s bamboo shack.

Akbar, one of the nearly 140,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya living in overcrowded refugee camps in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, thinks he could be HIV-positive. But since the government expelled medical aid group Doctors Without Borders from the state in February, slashing medical services in the camps, he has no way of finding out.

“I have been sick off and on for two years, but it is much worse these last few weeks. Now I cannot get up at all,” he says.

Akbar’s scarred ankles are thinner than an average man’s wrists. Apart from an occasional involuntary tremble, his shriveled arms lie motionless by his side.

Akbar and his family are among the thousands of Muslims who sought refuge or were sent to these camps by local officials after deadly sectarian violence began wracking the state in mid-2012. While the conflict between Buddhist and Muslim populations was initially two-way, most of the displaced are Rohingya, with around 5,000 Buddhist Rakhine left homeless by the destruction, according to the United Nations. (more…)


Myanmar’s medical no man’s land – The Edge Review

April 28th, 2014

THEREVIEW-LOGO

www.theedgereview.com – app/digital magazine available here (subscription required)

Anuar Begum and child sit behind Anuar's mother Zeinab, inside clinic at Thay Chaung (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Anuar Begum and child sit behind grandmother Zeinab, inside clinic at Thay Chaung (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Rohingya struggle to cope with expulsion of international healthcare providers

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN / Thay Chaung, Rakhine State, Myanmar

Anuar Begum’s baby boy is just 4 days old and doesn’t yet have name, but the 22-year-old first-time mother is already thinking four weeks ahead.

That’s when heavy rain and storms will begin to blow in from the Bay of Bengal into Rakhine State and bringing the threat of water-borne diseases for the almost 140,000 Rohingya like Anuar Begum, who live in camps in this bedeviled region in western Myanmar.

“We are worried about the baby. We are IDPs [internally displaced persons] and there is no doctor in our camp,” she said, perched on the edge of the same rusty-framed bed where she gave birth, inside a government clinic outside Sittwe, the regional capital of Rakhine State. (more…)


Myanmar anti-junta crusader and journalist Win Tin dies – Los Angeles Times

April 21st, 2014

LATimes

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-win-tin-longtime-antijunta-crusader-in-myanmar-dies-at-age-85-20140421,0,7948781.story#ixzz2zWiZsz1w

in Tin speaks at re-opening of the party's Mandalay office in early 2012 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Win Tin speaks at re-opening of the party’s Mandalay office in early 2012 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON, Myanmar — Win Tin, who was one of Myanmar’s most respected opposition leaders and who was jailed for nearly two decades by his country’s military rulers, died early Monday at age 84.

His death, attributed to organ failure, came as Myanmar marked the end of Thingyan, the Buddhist New Year, and five weeks after he was admitted to Yangon’s main hospital on the evening of his 84th birthday.

A former journalist who in 1988 co-founded the National League for Democracy party with his longtime ally Aung San Suu Kyi, Win Tin was one of the most prominent leaders of the movement to challenge the military junta that ruled what was then known as Burma.

“He was a major figure for our party and he was so, so admired by our people in Burma,” said Soe Win, another former political prisoner, speaking at NLD party headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial capital. (more…)


Indonesia poll upset triggers fresh jockeying – Nikkei Asian Review/RTÉ World Report

April 15th, 2014

NikkeiRTE

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Indonesia-poll-upset-triggers-fresh-jockeying 

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/world-report/ – radio report here. Broadcast April 20.

Presidential aspirant Prabowo Subianto (right) pictured at pre-election prayer rally in Jakarta. On the left of the photo is Suryadharma Ali (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Presidential aspirant Prabowo Subianto (right) pictured at pre-election prayer rally in Jakarta. On the left of the photo is Suryadharma Ali (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

SOLO, Indonesia — To the surprise of many observers, Indonesia’s main opposition party won only half the votes it had expected in the country’s April 9 legislative elections. A setback for “Indonesia’s Obama,” front-runner Joko Widodo, the result is both an opportunity and a challenge for the other candidates.

Before the vote, public attention centered on Widodo, the Jakarta governor known as Jokowi who was widely expected to succeed Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Indonesia’s next president.

Widodo’s candidacy was meant to give the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) a boost ahead of the parliamentary vote, which saw a 75% turnout from more than 180 million voters across the sprawling archipelago. (more…)


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