Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Junta takes census in Wa, Mongla territory

By Hseng Khio Fah
Shan Herald Agency for News

More than 80 officials from several civil and governmental departments with 7 trucks in Kengtung, are reported to have started taking census in the areas under the control of United Wa State Army (UWSA) and its ally Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) since February 26.

The census is being carried out by officials from departments such as immigration, police, special bureau, township peace and development councils (TPDC). They were divided into four groups.

However, one group of 27 officials along with 2 trucks, going into Mongpawk, south of the Wa capital Panghsang, were not allowed to pass into the area due to lack of permission from the top, said a local resident.

They were stopped by the Wa at Khosoong gate, the boundary line between the Wa and Mongla. The group returned to Kengtung on the following day.

The remaining 3 groups conducted census in the Mongla region. So far, they have collected family lists in the Hsalue-based 369th Brigade, Yang Nguen (Akha village), Yangkawng, southeast of Mongla, said a source.

However, there has been no information as to what kind of cards villagers will receive.

“They [authorities] told us that they would give ID cards. But we don’t know what type and color we will get,” a local resident told SHAN.

In 2008, there were many temporary ID cards of different colors that the authorities had issued to the people such as yellow, green and white.

Some border watchers say the junta is trying to complete the national census before the 2010 elections.

The returned group has reportedly appealed to the Triangle Regional commander to discuss with the leaders of Panghsang. However, the commander replied that he could not do that without orders from Nay Pyi Taw, said a source close to the junta.

“The reason we did not admit the junta’s officials was because of tight security restrictions before the celebrations,” a source quoted a Wa officer saying.

Wa and Mongla stopped junta officials from issuing temporary cards in their regions in March 2008, according to SHAN report in April 2008.

Census is also being conducted in Mon State, Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) reported yesterday.

READ MORE---> Junta takes census in Wa, Mongla territory...

Myanmar refugee speaks out for Muslim group


(Japan Times) -A Muslim refugee from Myanmar urged the government Tuesday to grant political asylum to other members of his minority group, the Rohingya, who have fled the oppression of the ruling military junta.

"They are victims of systematic, persistent and widespread human rights violations," asserted Zaw Min Htut, who in 2002 became the first Rohingya to be granted refugee status by Japan.

Members of the ethnic minority from western Myanmar were rendered stateless by the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law.

The group recently became a focus of international attention when the Thai military began turning away hundreds of Rohingya boat people in December.

Their plight was even discussed at the ASEAN meeting in Thailand that ended Monday.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Htut said the Rohingya, who are a target of religious and political persecution, have been forced to flee their homeland for countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and even the United Arab Emirates. A large majority, however, reside in Bangladesh.

About 200 Rohingya are in Japan, both legally and illegally, he said.

According to Htut, only 11 Rohingya have been granted refugee status by Japan, while 27 have received special residence permission on humanitarian grounds. About 70 family members of the permit holders reside in Japan, while 92 are currently seeking refugee status.

Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer who represents Myanmar asylum seekers in Japan, including Rohingya, said many of those seeking refugee status have entered Japan illegally on fake passports, largely due to their statelessness. Despite the political situation back home, they can face deportation to Myanmar, he said.

About 30 of the 92 asylum seekers already have been turned down and are filing lawsuits against the government to overturn the decision, Watanabe said.

"Rohingya are persecuted just because they are Rohingya, and they are stateless and should not be deported back to Myanmar," Watanabe said. "It's very hard to understand why the government keeps rejecting them, because surely they know the situation the Rohingya are in."

A Justice Ministry official, however, said ethnicity is not a criteria for granting political asylum. "Internationally, the criteria is whether the person is politically persecuted" and thus each applicant is reviewed according to his or her activities, she said.

READ MORE---> Myanmar refugee speaks out for Muslim group...

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