Passports issued at Border area

Passports began to be issued in Burma at the edge of the southern town of Kaw Thaung for Burmese migrant workers who are working in Thailand. The cost of issuing a passport is around 3,000 Kyats and were issued at Ayae Yieak Nyaing older people center of Kaw Thaung on the 10th of July.
According to one of the staff members at the Immigration Department only 10 passports were issued on the first day and no one came to get the passports issued on the following days.
The passport is valid for 3 years and the applicant should have a working certificate with supporting documents by Thai employees and need to apply to the board.
According to one of the board members, the applicants need to provide a full address in Burma and there was no tax.
“The applicant should provide a full address in Burma. There was no tax and they don’t need to be afraid. We will not arrest those who apply for a passport” he said.
“Even though it was guaranteed that no arrests would take place most migrant workers did not trust the authorities and are not willing to share their addresses in Burma. Furthermore, some of them have been living in Thailand for a long time and are unable to quote an exact address in Burma and are also unable to provide a National Identity card. These are the reasons that very few people apply for a passport”. One of the local residents of Kaw Thaung said.

Crime Rates, Begging, Mental Illness Increase in Sittwe

Narinjara News
THURSDAY, 16 JULY 2009 08:58

Dhaka: People in Arakan State have been facing an economic crisis that has contributed to increased rates of crime, begging, and mental illness across the state, particularly in the capital Sittwe, said a woman from the city.

She said, “The rate of beggars, crimes, and lunatics are increasing day after day in Sittwe, which is the outcome of the economic crisis in our state. I have never seen many beggars on the streets of Sittwe before, but now there are many beggars in Sittwe who are roaming the town to ask for food and other assistance.”

According to a source, most poor people in Sittwe are working as rickshaw pullers but the daily earnings of rickshaw pullers is inadequate for their families’ daily survival. The rental price of a rickshaw is also 700 kyats per day in Sittwe.

“In Sittwe, the number of rickshaws is higher than the number of travelers. The rickshaw pullers have difficulty getting money from the job. Sometimes, the rickshaw pullers can not pay the rental charge to rickshaw owners as they do not have enough money from working. So the family members come out into the streets to beg for food and money,” the woman said.

The economy in Sittwe is not doing well right now and everybody is facing financial difficulty. Because of this, the rate of begging and crime have also increased in the capital.

“Most women in Sittwe now avoid walking on the street with jewelry because many robberies have taken place in Sittwe recently. In the last month alone, there were three day time robberies in Sittwe,” she added. Continue reading “Crime Rates, Begging, Mental Illness Increase in Sittwe”

The Burmese military junta has detained four local people collecting information on one of the worst floods of the Uru Hka River and landslides following heavy rain in Hpakant jade mining areas in northern Kachin State on July 4 and 5, said local sources.

Four collecting Hpakant flood details detained
News – Kachin News Group
THURSDAY, 16 JULY 2009 12:27

The Burmese military junta has detained four local people collecting information on one of the worst floods of the Uru Hka River and landslides following heavy rain in Hpakant jade mining areas in northern Kachin State on July 4 and 5, said local sources.

The four were arrested in Hpakant jade mining city while they were taking notes, photographs and video clips of the devastation in the aftermath of the severe floods and mudslides, said sources close to the detainees. It could not be established whether they were news reporters.

The arrested are yet to be identified but they were interrogated and tortured by the military authorities in Hpakant, said relatives of a detainee.

According to Christian inspectors on the scene and residents of Hpakant, the authorities have strictly prohibited taking photographs and videos of the flood and landslide affected areas.

A resident of Nga-Pyaw-Taw quarter in Hpakant said, they could call from landline telephones during the two days of floods and landslides but the connection was totally cut off on July 7 at about 10 p.m. Burma Standard Time. People assumed that the authorities had cut off the telephone lines so as to prevent the news of the death and devastation reaching outside Hpakant and Burma, added locals.

In Hpakant areas, Kalat Kone, Kala Jaung and Maw One were seriously affected by the floods and mudslides.

In the jade mines and villages in Tarmakhan and Nam Maw areas, over 20 miles southwest of Hpakant, many jade miners died in the mudslides from soil dug out from the mines, said sources.
Continue reading “The Burmese military junta has detained four local people collecting information on one of the worst floods of the Uru Hka River and landslides following heavy rain in Hpakant jade mining areas in northern Kachin State on July 4 and 5, said local sources.”

Daily life disrupted by flooding from rain and shoddy dam

Thu 16 Jul 2009, IMNA,
After particularly heavy rains hit Mon state this last week, some students can’t get to school due to high water levels, and some areas in the local villages are flooding. The cause is not just extreme weather, but the unfinished Burmese government dam project.

Villages nearby the Winpanon dam [Kalort-tort, Taungpa, Htone-mun and Kwan-ka-bue villages] are flooding more then other areas because of a government design failure in which water from dam flows into the villages rather then out to sea during heavy rains. The subsequent flooding has cut off a main road between Htone-mun and Kalort-tort, cutting off about 100 students from school.

On July 14th the Burmese government TV channel said that the level of rain has increased and the water level of Thanlwin River at Hpa-an is 686 cm (22’6”). It may reach the danger level of 750 cm (24’7”) during the next 48 hours as of noon today.

“Heavy rain started about 5 days ago and now and my children can’t go to the Kalort-tort school,” said a student’s parent. “They can’t cross the water because of the water level is at about a person’s waist.”

Htone-mun village has a primary school, but the other students who have graduated must now attend the middle and high schools that are located in Kalort-tort village. The road that crosses between Htone-mun and Kalort-tort village is low lying and floods easily.

“About 100 students can’t come to school and most of them are from the middle school,” said a teacher from the Kalort-tort village.

The Winphannon dam was built by the in 2001, by which the main river that flowed out to sea was blocked. The government authorities began digging a trench to act as an alternative runoff for overflow water. Because the trench is unfinished the overflow water has not been able to runoff in the rainy season and instead flows into paddy fields and low land villages. Continue reading “Daily life disrupted by flooding from rain and shoddy dam”

New Thai-Burmese passport issued, meets mix of hope and skepticism

Wed 15 Jul 2009, Jaloon Htaw , Weng Mon, IMNA
Today in a combined effort by the Burmese and Thai authorities to address the issue of abuse against migrant workers, the two governments have begun to issue limited passports.

On July 15th, the Burma-Thai Cultural and Economic Committee (BTCEC), in conjunction with the Burmese and Thai governments, has officially begun to produce limited passports for applications filled by Burmese migrant workers. The overarching goal, according to on of the committee members, is to save the rights of those who have been abused while working and living in Thailand.

According to the BTCEC, this is the first time they will be able to offer limited passports allowing migrants travel throughout Thailand and work anywhere they find a job, without restrictions. The application for the limited passports is now available for the next 20 days, in BTCEC offices based in Mae Sot, Tachilek and Kawthaung, for 11,000 bhat. In addition, the limited passports are valid for 2 years once issued said a member of BTCEC in Mae Sot. The new limited passports will replace the older Thai Labor Ministry issued worker ID’s, available over the last 12 years, that widely restricted migrant travel to the work area and town in which they worked and were only good for periods of 6 months and 1 year.

According to the Burmese state run news paper, the New Light of Myanmar, on July 12th, Thai and Burmese authorities met in Kawthaung, Tenasirim division, on the Thai- Burma border, to pre-issue 200 limited passports to residents. Continue reading “New Thai-Burmese passport issued, meets mix of hope and skepticism”

Dutch paedophile gets 37-year jail term

BANGKOK, July 16 (TNA) – Thailand’s Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced a Dutch paedophile to 37 years in prison for sexually abusing a boy.

The court ruled that Willem Grard Knoppien, 52, and Tanes Bualuang, 35, a Thai man were guilty of taking a boy from his parents with the intention of carrying out sexual abuse in the resort town of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The duo were arrested on December 3, 2008 after having been reported of having committed a crime and escaping to Thailand by the Dutch police.

The investigation took three months and determined that the Thai man was involved in procuring the victim.

The victim and witnesses testified to the Criminal Court, which convicted the two men on four counts and delivered the verdicts.

Mr. Knoppien was sentenced to a 37-year jail term, while Mr. Tanes faced 40 years imprisonment. However, Mr. Tanes’s jail term was reduced to 28 years and 8 months due to his useful statement to the prosecutors. (TNA)

Human rights high on Asean agenda

The Asean Ministerial Meeting in Phuket next week will be highlighting human rights and on its agenda is endorsement of a final report on the terms of reference for the Asean human rights body, besides close discussions on Burma.

Asean wants a credible and realistic mechanism to protect and promote human rights. However, the proposed Asean body has been widely criticised for being toothless in protecting rights in member countries.

A high-level panel will submit its final report to the ministers on Sunday, prior to a meeting of the regional grouping, according to Foreign Ministry’s director of the Asean Affairs Department, Vitavas Srivihok.

The working group admits the body has emphasised rights promotion rather than rights protection. The Asean human rights mechanism cannot impose sanctions, and cannot inspect or report on the human rights situation in member countries.

“Taking into account the member countries, we have to be realistic otherwise the body will not work at all,” Vitavas said. “The human rights body will be an evolving process, so it can be adjusted to fit the reality later.”

The situation in Burma, with its negative record on human rights, would be discussed in the Asean meeting, he said, but declined to speculate on the outcome. Asean always expresses concern over Burma’s political situation but rarely takes any action against the junta.

More than 1,200 delegates from 26 countries, plus an international organisation, will be in Phuket for the seven-day meeting, which includes 32 meetings. Continue reading “Human rights high on Asean agenda”