Migrant rights discussion sheds light on temporary passport application

Wed 18 Nov 2009, Jaloon Htaw
On November 15th, at the Wat Pomvichian Chotikaram in Mahachai, the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) hosted a panel discussion for Burmese migrants workers, to discuss the process behind the Thai national verification project, and the positive and negative elements of the temporary passports being issued jointly by the Thai and Burmese governments.

Supported by the Human Rights and Development Foundation Migrant Justice Program (HRDF-MJP), the presentation, “Benefits and Challenges of Nationality Verification for Migrant Workers from Burma”, addressed the migrant communities concerns about the Thai worker ID verification process, and the application process for the temporary passports.

“We clarified for migrant workers how they can make decisions for their future, when trying to decide about the temporary passports,” Ko Sein Htay, an assistant lawyer with the HRDF-MPJ told IMNA. “If migrant workers have become legalized workers [after getting verified and receiving worker ID], they should go do a temporary passport. If the migrant workers don’t believe in the temporary passports, that is up to them.”

The meeting, attended by over 350 members of the migrant worker community, featured speakers from the Samut Sakorn Employment Office, an advisor to the Samut Sakorn Fisheries Association, the Raks Thai Foundation, and two migrant workers who had received the temporary passports, one having used a broker, the other having gotten the passport without assistance. The meeting was presided over by a member of the Lawyers Council of Thailand. Continue reading “Migrant rights discussion sheds light on temporary passport application”

Gas pipeline explosion in Thanphyuzayart Township

Wed 18 Nov 2009, IMNA, Rai Maraoh
The Kanbauk to Myaing Kalay gas pipeline, which crosses Mon State from Tenasserim Division, exploded in one section at 12 pm on November 15th, in Thanphyuzayart Township.

According to IMNA’s reporter, the explosion occurred in a sparsely populated area between the villages of That Kaw and Wei Win Kara. The subsequent fire scorched two acres of rubber plantation; homes in the area were apparently left undamaged by the explosion, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the explosion and fire is thus-far unknown.

“The explosion was very strong. Two acres of the rubber plantation around this area were scorched by the fire,” said a Mon resident who’s house is located at the explosion site.

IMNA’s reporter learned that following the explosion, Artillery Regiment (AR) 318, based in nearby Weakali village, travelled to the explosion site and commenced repairing the pipeline and extinguishing the fire; villagers were banned from the site while the construction was underway. Repairs were reportedly concluded by the morning of November 16th, and residents were allowed to return to the area and to their homes. Continue reading “Gas pipeline explosion in Thanphyuzayart Township”

Media network-BNI demands free and fair reporting on 2010 polls


Burma News International (BNI), a network of 11 independent news organizations in exile, yesterday urged the country’s ruling military junta to ensure freedom of information gathering and reporting in the general elections slated for next year.

“Otherwise, it will not be considered free and fair and, as a result, rejected by the international community,” it warned.

The BNI, which held its three-day 14th bi-annual meeting, from November 15 to 17, also demanded the “unconditional and prompt release” of all journalists under detention and a suspension of news censorship.

Burma is infamous as one of the most inhospitable countries for journalists. Kenji Nagai, a Japanese photographer, was shot dead by junta’s soldiers during the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

The exact number of journalists detained by the regime has not been disclosed. Son Moe Way, a coordinator for the Burma Journalists Protection Committee (BJPC), said some of those detained by the military authorities on charges of activism are journalists.

“Revelation of their true identities will only lead to harsher punishments for them,” he told the meeting yesterday.

The BNI was formed in 2003 with the aim of “becoming a leading multimedia enterprise that presents a comprehensive picture of Burma and plays a role in promoting an understanding of the country.” Supporters of the network have pointed out its policy of inclusiveness and decentralization as its main strength.

KSPP Office Inaugurated For Contesting Polls

Written by KNG
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A new branch office building of the ethnic political party, the Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP) was inaugurated this morning in Burma’s northern Kachin State, said local participants. The party intends to contest the 2010 polls in the country.

The two-storey office building of the KSPP is in Myothit Quarter in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. The inauguration was done by Kachin Church leaders of different denominations between 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. local time, according to those who attended.
Though the new party office was inaugurated, the party’s name was not mentioned in the signboard outside the building. The name will be written after the party becomes legal, said party officials in Myitkyina.

The KSPP office inauguration comes soon after two Kachin armed groups officially transformed to the Burmese junta-controlled entities — the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) as three battalions of the Border Guard Force on November 8 and Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group as two local militia groups on October 16. Continue reading “KSPP Office Inaugurated For Contesting Polls”

The legitimacy of the 2010 election rests on more than just the release of political prisoners and allowing the opposition to participate

Free and Fair?

Burma’s ruling junta has recently been under pressure by a skeptical international community to verify its claims that it has put into place “free and fair” conditions for next year’s election.

The baseline indicators of a credible electoral process, observers say, are: the release of all political prisoners, including the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi; and allowing all stakeholders to participate in the election. At the UN General Assembly in New York in September, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made clear to Burma’s Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein that the onus was on the Burmese government to create the necessary conditions for credible and inclusive elections and to initiate a dialogue with the opposition.

While the urgency of the country’s political reconciliation has long been a first priority, few Burma watchers have to date raised concerns on a number of critical issues related to the election process that can directly affect the environment of a free and fair election.

For example, in a meeting with Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on the sidelines of the Asean summit earlier this year, Thein Sein said that the regime will allow UN officials and developing countries to observe the general election.

But to ensure a free and fair election, the existence of independent foreign election monitors must be in place across the country at the outset of the election campaign period.

Free and Fair?

FRANCE:Appeal to the Burmese Prime Minister to release all political prisoners (November 16, 2009)

Political relations
Appeal to the Burmese Prime Minister to release all political prisoners (November 16, 2009)

France wholeheartedly shares the goal expressed by the President of the United States concerning Burma. It would like the Burmese junta to truly engage, through concrete gestures, in a process of national reconciliation with the opposition and ethnic minorities.
We hope that the appeal to the Burmese Prime Minister to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, will be heard.
Only on this condition can the elections planned by the Burmese authorities for 2010 be truly democratic, as they promised. We should remember that there are more than 2000 Burmese political prisoners and that Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 14 out of the last 20 years deprived of her liberty.
The authorities agreed for Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with the ambassadors of the countries that are applying sanctions as well as U.S. emissaries. It is now up to them to take concrete measures to promote dialogue and national reconciliation.

Junta Conscripts More Child Soldiers

Burmese regime forces have conscripted 112 underage youths in the last seven months, according to child labor activists in Burma.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Aye Myint, a leading labor activist in Pegu Division, said 112 school-age youths have been recruited by the junta army between May and November.

Their families have lodged letters of complaint with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Rangoon, he said.

Two families of conscripted youths lodged letters of complaint with the ILO on Monday. The first youth is Kyaw Min Oo, 16, from Thanatpin Township in Pegu Division and the second is Ye Noung Hein, 15, from Shwe Phy Thar Township in Rangoon Division.

Kyaw Min Oo was seized in August while he and his father slept at a train station in Pegu. He was taken to No.4 military training school at Pinlaung in Shan State.

Ye Noung Hein was taken in 2008, but he ran away from his battalion in October and has become a fugitive unable to return home. His father lodged a letter with the ILO asking the Burmese regime’s military to offer his son an amnesty.

ILO representatives were unavailable for comment when The Irrawaddy tried to contact their Rangoon office on Monday. Continue reading “Junta Conscripts More Child Soldiers”