Rights body calls on govt to scrap aliens policy, Nation Thailand

The Abhisit Vejjajiva administration’s policy to set up a special centre to control one million illegal alien workers might lead to corruption, extortion and human right violations, the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) warned yesterday. They urged the policy be scrapped.

In a statement issued yesterday, the HRDF said that Abhisit had ordered on June 2 establishment of the special centre with five regional taskforces to work with local police and administrative officials in the crackdown on illegal aliens.

The order reportedly focused on 300,000 immigrant workers who became illegal when they failed to renew their working permits and submit nationality verification requests by February 28.

HRDF warned the policy might lead to severe human right violations on about one million illegal immigrant workers in Thailand, especially those from Burma’s ethnic minority groups.

They said the past had shown labour crackdowns led to arrests and imprisonment of workers, coercion and extortion by corrupt officials, as well as violence and death. They said the policy was inappropriate and not in line with the economy as well as failing to promote national security.

HRDF therefore had urged the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Immigrant Human Rights to ask for clarification from the Thai government about the policy’s legitimacy according to international laws. HRDF said the policy was a disappointment because Thailand became a new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in May and, during its campaign for votes, Thailand had promised to respect the rights of minority people and immigrant workers.

HRDF has proposed the Thai government cancel the policy and open a new round of registration for some 1.4 million alien workers who were unregistered and currently working in Thailand. They also urged the Labour Ministry to seriously review methods, in order to achieve its goal of promoting legal worker imports from neighbouring countries, to be in line with basic human rights and prevent the extortion of workers. They also wanted the Labour Ministry to supervise organisations providing services for the nationality verification process, as they still demanded expensive fees.

The Thai government should seek long-term measures to tackle the issue of immigrant workers who couldn’t be submitted before the nationality verification process, they added.

Box:

Worker verification

– Only 90,000 migrant workers have successfully passed the nationality verification process;

– Some 800,000 migrant workers have filed nationality verification requests and have until February 28, 2012 to complete the procedure;

– Some 300,000 immigrant workers failed to renew their work permits and submit nationality verification requests by February 28, 2010, and are now considered illegal;

– It is estimated that about 1 million migrant workers have not entered the verification process because they are unregistered.

By The Nation
Published on June 22, 2010

Burma a Major Source Country for Refugees: UNHCR

Dhaka: Burma was listed as one of the “Major Source Countries of Refugees” worldwide by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in its latest report.

The UNHCR put the military-ruled Burma fifth on the list of ten major source countries of refugees, with a refugee population of 406,700, in its latest report titled 2009 Global Trends.

The UNHCR listed Afghanistan, with a refugee population of 2,887,100 in first place, followed by Iraq with 1,785,200 refugees, Somalia with 678,300 refugees, the Congo with 455,900 refugees, Burma with 406,700 refugees, Columbia with 389,800 refugees, Sudan with 368,200 refugees, Vietnam with 339,300 refugees, Eritrea with 209,200 refugees, and Serbia, with 195,600 refugees.

The report also said that Burma was added to the list of major refugee producing countries after 200,000 unregistered Burmese Muslim refugees taking shelter in Bangladesh were added to the official tally of refugees from Burma.

The report also added that refugees from Burma are the second-largest group of people seeking asylum abroad, and comprise one-third of the 48,600 total new asylum applications that have been accepted by the UNHCR in Malaysia.

According to regional sources, more than a million people have fled their homes in Burma to seek refuge abroad due to oppressive military rule, and most of those are now living as unregistered refugees in neighboring Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and India.

USDA campaigns secretly in Kachin State

The UnioThe Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) backed by the Burmese military junta, is into secret poll campaigns in Waingmaw Township in Kachin State, Northern Burma, since early June.

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The USDP is mobilizing leaders in 48 quarters in Waingmaw Township and persuading influential elders to join the party.

“They are checking out persons they trust and making selections carefully,” said a teacher in the township.

Without the civilians knowing about it their township or quarter chiefs have put them on the members list of USDP, he said.

“There is no need to campaign among the civilians because they have all been included in the USDP members list by their chiefs,” said the teacher.

USDP leaders are also mobilizing Kachin Baptist church pastors and have put them in their members list. This, despite their reluctance because they are religious leaders and do not wish to be a part of any political organization.

Ironically, a lot of people are not even aware that they have already been included in the USDP members list.

USDP is into vigorous poll campaign around main townships in Kachin State as they are the only party allowed to do it. Other political parties such as the Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP) are awaiting approval from the Union Election Commission (UEC) to contest the election.

The USDP is providing CDMA mobile and land line phones connections to civilians while campaigning, alleged residents.

The KSPP, led by former Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) No.2 vice chairman Dr. Manam Tu Ju is still awaiting approval from the UEC. Leaders met Commission officials twice on May 7 and June 16 appealing for approval.

However, the UEC told the KSPP to wait for the approval to contest the election. Local people believe that KSPP’s tenuous links with KIO and the Kachin ethnic armed group refusing to accept the junta’s proposed Border Guard Force (BGF) are the main reasons for the regime denying approval so far.

Others awaiting approval are the Northern Shan State Progressive Party (NSPP) and a party led by Layawk Ze Lum, former general secretary of New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) which are representative parties of the Kachin people.

The junta-backed Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) had over 20 million members in the whole country and the organization was transformed to the USDP on April 29 by USDA leaders including junta’s Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein to contest the forthcoming general election.

KNG News

Historically significant author and Mon scholar Dr. Nai Pan Hla passes away

The famous Mon scholar and historical figure Dr. Nai Pan Hla passed away on June 18, 2010, in Yangoon at the age of 87. He passed away from paralytic stroke in the early hours of Friday, June 18, in Hin Zee Hone hospital. Dr. Nai Pan Hla’s daughter, Mi Pawt [Daw Khin Khin Hla], said he had been suffering for two months prior to his death.

Dr. Nai Pan Hla was respected for his work on preserving Mon and Pali history and literature. He was one of the first Mon scholars to translate Pali, Mon and Burmese into English. His knowledge of Pali was particularly respected, as this ancient Buddhist language is no longer practiced by many Mon and many texts threaten to be lost.

Dr. Nai Pan Hla was made famous by his book “The Struggle of Rajadharit”, a book that describes a defining struggle in Burmese history and the role of a famous Mon King. “The Struggle of Rajadharit” was published in 1977 in Yangoon, and was a bestseller in Burma.

Mi Pawt explained the significance of her father’s loss to Mon people in stating, “Everybody will die, but for my father, I feel like I have lost a Mon historical figure and resource on Mon history”. One of his pupils expressed that he has no doubt that all of Dr. Nai Pan Hla’s pupils and those that knew him feel like they have lost an important historical scholar.

Nai Pan Hla was born on March 1923 in Karen State, Kaw-ka-reik township, Kawpain village, to his father, Nai Jawt, and mother, Mi Cho. He studied at Karen KBM high school and Yangoon high school. After World War II, he moved to Yangoon. In Yangoon he served as an assistant secretary at the Government chemistry office, while also working as a secretary for the All Rehmonnya Mon Association.

In 1953 he was appointed as a high officer for the Ministry of Culture. He retired from the Ministry of Culture in 1986. Several years later he went on to get higher educational degrees, including a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), Law degree (LL.D) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Anthropology from Pacific Western University, in Los Angeles, California, USA.

In 1991, at the age of 70, he was awarded his B.Sc and Ph.D. In 1992 he translated the Mon Damatha into English, which he received an LL.D for. He received his Ph.D for translating eleven of the Mon TamaTat – a book of Buddhist dharma teachings – into English.

From 1994 to 1998 he taught the subjects of South East Asian Literature and History at Japan’s Okinawah Island University. He returned to Yangoon in 1998, where he taught Mon stone inscription and Pali language to Mon monks, youth and students.

Throughout his life he wrote many articles for Burmese newspapers and journals about Mon culture and history.

Nai Pan Hla always said “We may be able to speak and write Mon, but without knowledge of Mon stone inscription and Pali, it is like we do not know Mon literature at all”.