Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Singaporean Activists Detained after Protesting Burmese Migrants’ Plight

Plainclothes police officers keep watch and block a demonstration placard
by standing in front of activists (wearing red t-shirts) during
a two-man protest in Singapore January 12. (Photo: Reuters)
Blogger's Note: look careful and watch the "struggle and resistance" during the arrest,
also note that the activists are OUTSIDE the premises opposite to the
Minister's press statement.
The law is corrupted and this is the evidence to be presented in a closed doors court.


(Irrawaddy News) -Two Singaporean activists were detained for five hours on Monday by police after they had protested outside the Ministry of Manpower in solidarity with Burmese migrant workers in the country.

Activists Seelan Palay and Chong Kai Xiong said they felt guilty because their government had refused to extend the work permits of two Burmese migrants who had protested outside the Burmese embassy last year.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, artist Seelan Palay said, “We will go to jail for three months if we are found guilty. We have to go to court in two weeks.”

The two Burmese in question, Moe Kyaw Thu and Win Kyaw, had actively participated in demonstrations last year and when their work permits came up for renewal, they were denied on the basis of having police records.

“I will go to either Indonesia or Cambodia,” said Moe Kyaw Thu. “If I return to Burma, the government will arrest me.”

According to Moe Kyaw Thu, he has sent four letters of appeal to the Ministry of Manpower office requesting an extension of his work permit, but they were rejected. His work permit expires on January 27.

“The Singaporean government doesn’t want me to stay because I am a Burmese activist. They are afraid Singaporean activists will emulate our demonstrations,” he said.

Burmese migrants have held demonstrations several times recently outside the Burmese embassy in Singapore, including protests in May against the junta's insistence on pushing ahead with the referendum in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

The Singaporean government refused to extend the work visas of at least five Burmese migrants last year for having police records of for being involved in demonstrations.

According to Burmese workers in Singapore, the city-state hosts more than 60,000 Burmese, who mainly work as general workers or technical skilled laborers, while some are students.

Public demonstrations are not allowed in Singapore without a police permit.

The Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs warned Burmese political activists not to ignore repeated police orders to stop illegal public protests in August 2008.

According to a report in the Singaporean daily Strait Times in August, a ministry spokesperson said that the rights of a foreign national to work or stay in Singapore is not a matter of entitlement or a right to be secured by political demand and public pressure, and the activists had repeatedly ignored requests from government officials to meet to discuss the group's conduct.

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