Vanina Bouté, 2021, « Religious Changes, Ethnic minorities and the State in Laos », Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 16 (2), p. 79-110.
Marie-Sybille de Vienne, 2021, « Le “grand jeu” chinois face aux identités locales : l’État Shan, un nœud géostratégique », in Pierre Journoud (ed.), Un triangle stratégique à l’épreuve – La Chine, les Etats-Unis et l’Asie du Sud-Est depuis 1947, Montpellier, PLUM, p. 365-392.
Anne-Valérie Schweyer co-écrit avec Tien-Nam Nguyen, Jean-Christophe Burie, Thi-Lan Le, 2021, « On the Use of Attention in Deep Learning Based Denoising Method for Ancient Cham Inscription Images », DocumentAnalysis and Recognition – ICDAR 2021, 16th International Conference, Lausanne, Switzerland, September 5–10, Proceedings, Part I, p. 400-415, https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03527339
Indonesia’s troubled minorities by Greg Fealy, 13/09/2018, The Sydney Morning Herald
Meiliana, a 44-year-old Buddhist mother of Chinese descent, sat crying in disbelief in a North Sumatra court in late August. The judges had just sentenced her to 18 months’ jail for blasphemy because she complained to a neighbor in 2016 about the ear-splitting volume of amplified calls to prayer from a nearby mosque. Her complaint had sparked violent backlash from local Muslim groups, who had stoned her home, forcing her and her family to flee to another city. They also attacked and seriously damaged twelve Buddhist temples in the area. The same court that sentenced her showed leniency to eight attackers arrested by police, giving them jail terms of just 1-2 months.
Meiliana’s story shone a spotlight on Indonesia’s draconian blasphemy laws and more broadly on how the nation treats its minorities. For a country that presents itself to the world as a moderate Muslim-majority democracy that respects diversity and enjoins religious and ethnic harmony, Indonesia has faced increasing criticism for rising intolerance and sectarianism. Human rights advocates argued that the violent reaction to Meiliana’s mosque complaint and her subsequent jailing are inseparable from the fact that she is from a double minority: Sino-Indonesians comprise less than 4 per cent of the nation and Buddhists less than 2 per cent. The Chinese have long been targets of social unrest, particularly from the majority Muslim community.
Assessing how moderate or intolerant Indonesia is towards its minorities is more difficult to assess than it might first appear. For example, a number of well-regarded non-government organisations annually compile figures on acts of religious intolerance. One such NGO, Setara Institute, recorded 201 breaches of religious freedom across Indonesia in 2017, most of which were directed at Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Confucian minorities. Viewed in isolation, this is a significant number.
But on the other hand, in a religiously diverse nation of some 250 million people, several hundred cases might suggest that intolerance is relatively rare.
« Ma’ruf Amin: Jokowi’s Islamic defender or deadweight? » by Greg Fealy, 28/08/2018, New Mandala
The image was incongruous: President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), who wants his presidency defined by Indonesia’s rapid economic development and modernisation, stood awkwardly before the media on 10 August with his newly announced vice-presidential candidate, Ma’ruf Amin, a 75-year-old conservative Islamic scholar clad in traditional sarung and sandals. Answering criticism of his choice, Jokowi praised his running mate as “an untarnished figure, a wise ulama (Islamic scholar) who is respected across the Islamic community”. He proclaimed that with Ma’ruf on his ticket religion and nationalism would complement each other.
Indeed, Ma’ruf Amin is the most powerful ulama in the nation. Since 2015, he has occupied two pre-eminent positions: rais aam (president) of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the nation’s largest Muslim organisation; and chairman of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), the paramount state-endorsed body for issuing rulings on Islamic issues. Prior to this, he was an influential member of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Presidential Advisory Council (Wantimpres).
The story of how Ma’ruf came to be Jokowi’s presidential partner tells us much about the dynamics of contemporary Indonesian politics. As many commentators have observed, the president’s search for greater Islamic credibility was the primary reason for Ma’ruf’s elevation. But to explain why Ma’ruf rather than one of the many other prominent Islamic leaders was chosen requires a closer look at his career and sources of legitimacy. Conservatism has been an important, but by no means the only, element in his rise.
Lire la suite sur : http://www.newmandala.org/maruf-amin-jokowis-islamic-defender-deadweight/
« Engaging the UWSA: Countering Myths, Building Ties » by Andrew Ong, 20/08/2018, Tea Circle, An Oxford Forum for New Perspectives on Burma/Myanmar
Andrew Ong makes the case for the international community to reach out to the UWSA and build trust.
The carefully staged photos of tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing serving soup to United Wa State Army (UWSA) commander Bao Youyi, hospitalised after fatigue and hypertension at the Third Union Peace Conference (UPC) in July 2018, raised eyebrows across the country. The photo was posted to the former’s Facebook page and gestured towards bridge-building between the tatmadaw and the UWSA, the country’s strongest Ethnic Armed Organisation (EAO).
Building genuine trust however, will take far more than birds’ nest soup.
Not captured in the photograph were the UWSA’s demands for an official Wa State, amendments to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and the 2008 Constitution, and recognition of the Wa-controlled territory on the Thai border.
The UWSA had in September 2016 walked out of Aung San Suu Kyi’s landmark attempt to build peace with EAOs, the 21st Century Panglong Conference (now UPC). The formation of the UWSA-led coalition, the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) in April 2017, was a further blow to her NLD government’s hopes for significant progress in the peace process. The FPNCC submitted its demands at the Second UPC in May 2017, which were largely ignored. This Third UPC saw little concrete progress made, and now runs the risk of halting its momentum.
Perceptions and Myths of the UWSA
The UWSA was formed from the fracturing of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1989, its leaders quick to sign a ceasefire with the tatmadaw, one that has held to the present day. It controls fully two large swathes of territory along the Chinese and Thai borders, protected by an army of around 30,000.
Narratives about the UWSA have focused on secrecy and isolation, with sensationalised reporting about “an empire built on guns, drugs and blood”, or unverified allegations of the acquisition of helicopters and other weapons. The scant scholarly material centres on the political economy of opium and drugs, with book covers predominantly depicting soldiers in poppy fields.
In May 2015, the UWSA hosted the first EAOs summit at its headquarters in Pangkham, without the presence of Myanmar government representatives, and created the first opportunity for the press to visit Wa Region. Journalists were invited by the UWSA again in October 2016.
Paradoxically, while these visits gave a glimpse into life inside Wa Region, they also created distance – exaggerating the secrecy and remoteness of Wa Region, or its similarities to China. Across the media, representations of the UWSA invariably depict young soldiers marching, training, or guarding checkpoints, alongside charges of vice and lawlessness, and exotic visuals of the wildlife trade and casinos.
Little wonder then, that the UWSA remains “feared and poorly understood”, and few in Yangon can imagine ever engaging with the UWSA. Two serious misconceptions circulate in Yangon: first that the UWSA is a part or pawn of China, and second that they are mysterious, isolated and disengaged from Myanmar.
« The Lao dam collapse: a tragedy long in the making » by Bruce Shoemaker, 03/08/2018, New Mandala
The partial collapse of a newly constructed dam in Laos has killed dozens of local villagers and devastated the lives and livelihoods of thousands—and in doing so exposed cracks in the hydropower agenda of the country’s one-party government. The South Korean and Thai companies spearheading the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy project initially tried to write off the collapse as a natural disaster induced by heavy rains. However, this was very much an avoidable manmade tragedy caused by poor design, construction and operation.
While the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy tragedy is particularly acute, the rush to transform Laos into “the battery of Southeast Asia” through rapid construction of large hydropower across the country is already a widespread, if largely unacknowledged, human rights and environmental disaster.
In a highly restrictive one-party state in which local people have no freedom of expression or access to independent media, and civil society is severely constrained, tens of thousands of people are being forcibly resettled to make way for large-scale hydropower projects and other infrastructure.
Many more communities downstream from these projects, dependent on migratory fish and other river resources for income and food security, have lost livelihoods and food sources without acknowledgement or redress. Some projects are being built in what are legally protected conservation areas, causing severe impacts on areas of high biodiversity significance. Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy was no exception.
Lire la suite sur : http://www.newmandala.org/lao-dam-collapse-tragedy-long-making/
« The Painting That Is Painted With Poetry Is Profoundly Beautiful – Tang Chang » by Nora Taylor, Jul/Aug 2018, ArtAsiaPacific
Chills ran down my spine as I peered into the vitrine positioned toward the end of the late Tang Chang’s solo exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art, so beautifully and adeptly curated by Orianna Cacchione. On a faded sheet of paper was the word “gunman,” handwritten in English, and repeated in a pattern that resembles a monument. In the top right-hand corner, the word “democracy” appeared; at the bottom right was the date 1978. The Thai artist was referring to the suppression of the student protest against the return of Thanom Kittikachorn, an exiled military dictator, which had taken place two years earlier in Bangkok. That event, known as the October 1976 massacre, had led to the deaths of many at the hands of the Thai military. Yet, reading those words in the south of Chicago, I immediately thought of the recent and persistent shootings that have taken place in American schools. That a Thai artist—a self-described Buddhist, no less—would capture the mood of our violent times in such a poetic way was moving.
There were several other poems shaped like the Democracy Monument. Kill was one of them, and Democracy of Dictatorship (both 1978), written in Thai, was another. Many of the words were barely legible, appearing like scribbles, but their repetition created drawings, interwoven lines and shapes. I begin this review by mentioning these poems, even though Chang was also a painter and the exhibition included many of his paintings, because after walking through the rooms that held them, I could barely distinguish the poems from the paintings and vice versa. The title that the curator chose for the exhibition made complete sense. Poetry comes first, and is the medium for the paintings.
The exhibition at the Smart Museum is the first solo exhibition of Chang’s works outside of Thailand and the first to be held in the United States.
« IS in the Philippines and the Battle of Marawi: a new appraisal » by Luke Lichin, 31/07/2018, New Mandala
Nine months since the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) retook the city of Marawi from a coalition of Islamic State (IS) affiliated groups, resulting in the deaths of at least 802 militants, 160 government forces, and 47 civilians, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The legislation grants political and financial autonomy to a new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in the Southern Philippines after decades of insurgency and years of tumultuous peace negotiations. Promisingly, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) voiced its satisfaction with the legislation, and is working towards the next steps of implementation, including the decommissioning of 30,000-40,000 fighters. Nevertheless, the BOL must still overcome a range of challenges, including efforts by IS-affiliates to spoil the prospect of peace in Mindanao and Sulu.
Speaking on behalf of the IS-aligned faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Misri Mama derided the BOL as an agreement that will benefit only the MILF, and warned of future attacks in response. Although the AFP dismissed the threat as empty propaganda, continuing clashes with the BIFF in Maguindanao and Cotabato lend credibility to Abu Misri Mama’s announcement. The BIFF, like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Maute Group, reject the notion of autonomy for Muslims in the Southern Philippines, and seek to create an IS Wilayat (province) in Southeast Asia; a casus belli that resonates with and attracts fighters from Mindanao, Sulu, and abroad.
Small and fragmented though they are, the BIFF, the ASG, and the Maute Group are resilient organisations that have defied the AFP’s attempts to stamp them out, and there is no better illustration of that resilience than the AFP’s victory in Marawi.
Lire la suite sur : http://www.newmandala.org/philippines-battle-marawi-new-appraisal/
« 50 shades of yellow: how conservatism overwhelmed liberalism in the anti-Thaksin movement » by Kanokrat Leertchoosakul, 01/08/2018, New Mandala
“Of the 100 PAD members I interviewed, 76 had previously never actively participated in a political movement. 63 had not even followed political news before their foray into protesting with the yellow shirts.”
At its incipience, the movement against Thaksin Shinawatra (and his subsequent nominee governments) compromised a motley—even contradictory—crew of groups loyal to diverse ideologies and political standpoints. This is a history now easily forgotten. They ranged from conservatives genuinely opposed to democracy and bent on defending nationalism and monarchism, to factions who mobilised to defend democratic ideals and who were resolutely wary of nationalism and royalism.
During the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (PAD) early days, most of the movement’s conservatives members constituted the rank and file. In contrast, several leaders who exercised managing authority over protest sites came from liberal backgrounds. As one anonymous leader of the movement in Udon Thani remarked, “The Rajabhat rally was organised [by liberals] because we had experience in managing crowds. No one else did”. How was it that this heterogeneous network eventually mobilised down a progressively conservative direction, whereby royalist, nationalist and anti-democratic forces overwhelmed the movement?
I argue conservative mobilisation strategies married two previously disparate networks: first, scattered right-wing groups and second, an apolitical middle-class mass. Right-wing networks, once weak and diffuse, were brought together by the need to mobilise a popular base and in doing so forged a relatively united front. Simultaneously, these right-wing leaders attracted through the discourse of “Threat, Big Crisis, Action Is Needed Now” (ภัยคุกคาม-วิกฤตครั้งใหญ่-ต้องทำอะไรเดี๋ยวนี้) the support of members of the middle-class who had never before participated in a political movement—who were subsequently “politically awakened”.
When these two networks coalesced, conservative elements overwhelmed the movement against Thaksin in terms of numbers, bargaining power and resources, progressively squeezing out liberal elements. I base my genealogy of how the movement against Thaksin took on a conservative zeal—something that we may now take for granted—on interviews with 100 people who once mobilised against the tycoon-cum-politician. Interviewees came from 13 provinces across four of the country’s regions.