Thailand Urged to Protect Migrant Workers from Burma

A Thailand-based activist group says migrant workers from Burma are significantly worse off than they were a year ago. The group is urging the Thai government to extend legal protections and social safety nets to migrant workers.

The Migrant Assistance Program Foundation, known as MAP, says the global economic downturn has hit migrants from Burma particularly hard.

According to research released by MAP Friday at the Bangkok press club, 70 percent of workers from Burma in two Thai cities say they are having more difficulty finding work. And while the cost of living has gone up, 30 percent say their wages were cut during the past year. Continue reading “Thailand Urged to Protect Migrant Workers from Burma”

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 28 August 2009, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Date: 28 Aug 2009

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 28 August 2009, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We are concerned about reports that between 10,000 and 30,000 refugees have fled Myanmar’s north-eastern Shan State in recent weeks into China’s Yunnan Province. We are liaising with the authorities to investigate what their needs are.

Our information is that as many as 30,000 people may have taken shelter in Nansan County since 08 August, saying they were fleeing fighting between Myanmar government troops and ethnic minority groups. We have been informed that local authorities in Yunnan Province have already provided emergency shelter, food and medical care to the refugees.

China is one of the few countries in Asia to have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and we appreciate China’s respect of the non-refoulement principle. UNHCR has reiterated its readiness to provide support to the authorities in responding to the needs of these refugees.

The Shan: Refugees without a Camp-review by Feraya

Aug 28th, 2009

I was flattered as well as apprehensive when Bernice Johnson requested that I should write a review on her book. Flattered because it is such an outstanding and important book, but apprehensive because I may not be able to be objective about it, being a Shan, and knowing the suffering of the Shan people, and of my own family, my grandfather being Sao Shwe Thaike, the first president of Burma and the Sao Hpa Long of Yawnghwe, who was arrested and killed in Insein prison.

However, this is a book that needs to be read by anyone who cares about other human beings and the survival of peoples, peoples victimized, persecuted, and cruelly and diabolically killed, raped, tortured, and that even in war torn countries there can be hope and goodness if we all care enough.

‘The Shan: Refugees without a Camp’ by Bernice Koehler Johnson is the story of Bernice Johnson’s repeated trips to northern Thailand to teach English to Shan Refugees. Bernice returns year on year to see the children grow in confidence as the years passed and finds a warmth and mutual respect that continues to this day. The stories of many of her students show us the plight that Shan youth face; some as orphans, others having fled forced relocations and persecution by the Burma Army in Shan State; and their continuing struggles to find acceptance in Thailand, either in gaining recognition as refugees, or in gaining access to any but the lowest paid employment.

The book also addresses the relevant key issues that concern the Shan refugees of Burma, the most shocking human rights abuses, the sex trade, and many other problems that they have in Thailand. Continue reading “The Shan: Refugees without a Camp-review by Feraya”

Junta Renews ‘Divide-and-Rule’ Tactic in Shan State

Two decades of ceasefire agreements between the Burmese junta and northern ethnic armies have collapsed as armed clashes broke out on Thursday when the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and its ethnic allies opened fire on Burmese troops around the Kokang capital of Laogai.

Government troops took over Laogai on Monday without firing a single shot.

According to informed border sources, skirmishes continued from Thursday morning into Friday. Government troops fired artillery rounds into MNDAA positions, reportedly killing one Chinese civilian. One government policeman also has died, sources said.

Border guards and the regime’s constitution

Tension between the regime and ethnic ceasefire groups in northern Shan state increased steadily over the past few months as the junta began pressuring cease-fire groups to disarm and transform into a border guard force in April, in accordance with the new 2008 constitution which calls for all ethnic armies to be under the control of the regime.

Cease-fire groups such as the Wa, Kachin, Shan State Army [North] and Kokang have all rejected the guard force proposal. Continue reading “Junta Renews ‘Divide-and-Rule’ Tactic in Shan State”

Villagers in Burma’s central Shan state whose houses were razed in the junta’s latest scorched earth campaign this month have been ordered by the army to rebuild their property.

Scorched earth victims ordered to rebuild houses
Aug 28, 2009 (DVB)–Villagers in Burma’s central Shan state whose houses were razed in the junta’s latest scorched earth campaign this month have been ordered by the army to rebuild their property.

Some 500 hundred houses were burnt down by the Burmese army near Laihka town in Shan state between 27 July and 1 August, uprooting around 10,000 civilians.
Sein Kyi, deputy editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News, said that army officials in the area recently ordered those who fled to return to their villages and rebuild their homes.
“They also shot video and picture footage of the villages being rebuilt to make it look like the army was actually helping the villagers.”
He said the villages were burnt down by army soldiers together with troops from a splinter group of the opposition Shan State Army, known as the Brigade 758.
“Now the army officials are telling villagers it was the Brigade 758 who burnt down their houses, despite warning [the brigade] not to,” he said. Continue reading “Villagers in Burma’s central Shan state whose houses were razed in the junta’s latest scorched earth campaign this month have been ordered by the army to rebuild their property.”

Lawyers to appeal Suu Kyi sentence

Lawyers to appeal Suu Kyi sentence
Aug 28, 2009 (DVB)–Lawyers for Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are set to appeal her sentencing next week, following complaints that new conditions of her house arrest are stricter than before.

Suu Kyi met with her lawyers yesterday at her Rangoon compound where she has been sentenced to 18 months under house arrest.
“We mainly discussed an appeal to reconsider her sentence passed by the Insein district court,” said lawyer Nyan Win.
“We brought along the draft version of the appeal we wrote [which] is to be amended in the next few days.”
A finalised version of the appeal will be submitted next week. Nyan Win said lawyers also talked with Suu Kyi regarding the new house arrest conditions set by the government.
“In her previous house detention, she was allowed to meet with family members and also granted a regular medical check-up, but she doesn’t get these under the new conditions,” said Nyan Win, adding that a lot of the wording in the new conditions is unclear.
Suu Kyi was sentenced on 11 August to an 18-month commuted sentence under house arrest, following the visit in May of US citizen John Yettaw to her compound. Continue reading “Lawyers to appeal Suu Kyi sentence”

KIA On High Alert After Clashes In Kokang Territory

Written by KNG
Friday, 28 August 2009 17:29
An ally of the ethnic Kokang armed group, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) yesterday asked its troops to be on high alert in Kachin State and Northeast Shan State to take on the Burmese troops, if they intrude into their territories, said KIA sources.

In what is a renewed alert, KIA soldiers have been authorized to shoot at Burmese troops without adhering to the policy of allowing the Burmese troops to fire first, KIA officials added.

The renewed alert came from Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, the KIA’s Chief of Staff in Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State to all the KIA troops, said KIA soldiers in the frontline in Northern Shan State.
082809-kia-soldiers The KIA soldiers in Loikang-based KIA’s 4th Brigade have been put on high alert to repel the intruding Burmese troops because it is situated near Kokang territories in northern Shan State where the clashes were sparked off between the Kokang fighters loyal to the leader Peng Jiasheng and the Burmese troops yesterday morning, said sources close to KIA’s 4th Brigade. Continue reading “KIA On High Alert After Clashes In Kokang Territory”

DKBA conducts arbitrary taxation in Bilin Township August 28, 2009

August 28, 2009
HURFOM: On August 12th the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Battalion No.333, led by General Kyaw Min Oo, demanded a tax from rice and lumber mills located in DKBA brigade No.1 territory, near Phin Ma Pin Sait village, Bilin Township, Mon State.
According to HURFOM field reporters, there are about 18 rice mills and lumber mills in that area. The tax requires owners to pay 10,000 kyat for operating the mill for one month.
One rice mill owner said, “The demand for the tax is not logical. Sometimes for 3 or 4 months at a time they collect 1,5000 kyat for a tax. That is for food supplies for their troops. If we combined all this with the Burmese battalion taxes, it cost about 30,000 to 40,000 [kyat] a month. We just get 100 to 200 [kyat] for one bucket of rice. There are no advantages for us to do this job anymore.
Villagers have also been forced into working as unpaid manual labor for the local State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 213, according to local sources. Captain Thin Win commended villagers to collect 1,000 poles of bamboo, specifically 8 yards long, for building a barracks for troops from LIB No. 213.
According to local villagers, the DKBA is worried about Karen Nation Union (KNU) influence in the area. The area is officially NMSP controlled area, part of Mon state. However the majority of villagers in the area are Karen. The DKBA has been threatening villagers that if they are found to be talking with members of the KNU, they would be killed. Therefore, villagers don’t dare talk about the KNU.