Friday, May 8, 2009

Burmese Immigration Department issues id’s in resettlement site

By Jaloon Htaw, IMNA

Burmese government issueing id cards in region held by Mon cease fire group. On Tuesday, May 5th, The Burmese government Immigration department spent the day issuing ID cards for people who are in Halokanee resettlement site and pou la too pite .

Previously in February 2008, the Burmese government issued IDs for Mon State and Tenasserim Division prior to a referendum to approve the new constitution. The Burmese government issued the ID’s to more accurately document the number of people in the region. However the cards were not permanent, and expired after a certain period of time.

The cards issued on May 5th are different in that they are being issued to previous card holders as well as people who have never previously held a card, and do no have an expiration date. While the Burmese immigration department has been advertising the cards as available in June, they instead issued them in May.

Villagers from Pou La Too Pite had to travel to near by Halokanee where they were being issued to get ID’s. According to a Halokanee villager, individuals had to pay 100 bhat to receive a new ID card, even if they had been issued one prior for the 2008 referendum. Many people did not get cards since they were unable to pay the 100 bhat application fee.

During the issuing process, nearly 700 people arrived to get cards. However the Burmese immigration department only allowed one day for applications, and were only issued 300 IDs in that period. Some of the 300 new ID holders are also New Mon State Party (NMSP) members, the primary political group representing Mon people that officially administers areas following the 1995 cease fire.

An NMSP member from the area said, ‘When we had no ID cards we were unable to prove which village we are from. However now with an ID card we can travel anywhere.” He also speculated that the ID’s would not be used in the upcoming 2010 election.

A woman from Halokanee said “The ID’s now make it so we can go to Ye Township or Thanbyuzayat Township and makes travel easier.” The NMSP took responsibility and provided security for the arrival of members of the Burmese Immigration Department during the issuing of ID’s.

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