Burma Closes Cross-border Bridge at Mae Sot

A major Thailand-Burma trading post will remain closed until at least Tuesday and Burmese officials will not allow any goods in or out of the country, apparently in protest over Thailand’s construction of a river bank erosion project on the Moei  River.

Officials said they have no information on when the bridge would re-open for trade. The closure seriously affects businesses on both sides of the river.

“Burmese officials only allow people to cross the border bridge by foot,” said a Thai customs official on duty at the Thai-Myanmar [Burma] Friendship Bridge linking the two countries. “They won’t allow any goods to go across. We still don’t know why.”

According to a Thai news agency, Burmese officials are reportedly protesting Thailand’s construction of a river bank protection project which they claim diverts river currents and is eroding embankments on the Burmese side of the river.


Why are Burma’s Freedom Fighters Imprisoned in India? and No Release from Indian Jail

A court in Kolkata [Calcutta], India, has sentenced 34 Burmese political exiles who have already been in detention for more than 10 years to 15 months imprisonment and a fine of 6,000 rupees [US $130] each, according to local sources.

The detainees were arrested in 1998 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during a joint Indian military exercise codenamed “Operation Leech,” which also netted a large cache of arms, ammunition and explosives. Twenty-four of the detainees are members of the National United Party of Arakan and the remaining 10 are members of the Karen National Union.

Tint Swe, a New Delhi-Based minister of the National Coalition Government of Union of Burma, the Burmese government in exile, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the detainees will not have to serve their sentences, but they will have to pay the fine.


Eight Burmese nationals arrested in Thailand

Eight Burmese nationals, who entered Thailand with the help of human traffickers, were arrested in Maesod, the Thai-Burma border town last month.

The arrested included five women and three men, who live in The Ein Su village, Paung Township, Mon state. They were detained in Mae Lamueng inspection gate on the way to Bangkok, a local said.

“Han Win Aung is among three men, who were arrested. I don’t know the names of the other two. They were brought to Maesod on 15 June around 6 pm. by a human trafficker. They were given tickets on the bus and told “show the ticket if the police come to check “.

U Hla Than (a) Saw Hla Than, who lives in the same village, brought them over to Thailand and told them he would provide legal documents and find them jobs in Bangkok. He collected Kyat 5.5 lakhs from each person.

The detained are Ma Mya Mya Win, Ma Kyi Thar, Ma Aye Mya Thway, Ma Thinn Pwint Khaing (a) Ma Thin, Ma Aye Khaing Oo, Han Win Aung and two boys. Ma Thinn Pwint Khaing and Ma Aye Khaing Oo have been detained in Tak district’s children’s prison because they are underage. The rest have been detained in Maesod prison.

They were arrested on June 15 and produced in a court in Maesod for holding fake passports.

According to Thai laws, if a person holds a fake passport, he or she can be sentenced to three years in prison. A Thai police officer said that if a person carries a passport belonging to another person, the holder will be sentenced to seven months in jail.

“It is learnt that the eight arrested can be sentenced to seven months in jail. There could be both a prison term and a fine.

Saw Hla Than is absconding. It is learnt that the driver Phi Chai, a Karen ethnic and a Thai citizen, has been released on bail.

Even though Thai authorities have been strictly monitoring and arresting migrants since early this month, Burmese migrants keep flowing into Thailand in myriad ways.

Five dead over 500 suffer from flu in Mae La camp

There have been five deaths from flu with the onset of monsoon among over 500 refugees suffering from fever in Mae La refugee camp 45 kilometers north of Maesod, Saw Nay Sang, a medical in-charge, said.

“Our medical report states there are over 500 patients. Among them, three elderly people and two children have died. In the last few days, six to seven people came to hospital. The patients are between one year old to elders”.

Saw Nay Sang said that even though awareness programmes about flu is being undertaken in the camp, the number of patients have gone up. Just sprinkling mosquito repellents in the camp is not enough because refugees need to be made aware, the medical in-charge said.

At the moment the health situation of patients is under control and they are being provided treatment in AMI hospital in Mae La camp.

Even though flu is increasing in Mae La camp, medics said there are fewer afflictions in Mae Tao clinic, Ohm Pham camp and Noe Poe refugee camp.

“At worst, we see one or two patients, suffering from flu, coming to hospital in a day. There were 22 patients in the hospital in the last two weeks. Now the number of patients is gradually decreasing,” medic Naw Say Lar Phaw said.

It is learnt that most people suffering from flu in Thai-Burma border towns are in Three Pagoda town, Myawaddy and Kawka Reik town.