Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lost ID cards have led to corruption amongst Immigration authorities in Ye township

HURFOM (Rehmonnya): Same day service is available to villagers who are seeking an immediate replacement for a lost ID, but are forced to pay steep price hike.

For villagers who have lost their ID cards in Ye township, Immigrations authorities are now offering two methods for seeking a replacement. The normal option is the standard application process - the applicant answers a battery of questions, pays the fee of 3,000 Kyat, and then waits several months. The alternative now offered comes with no questions, and the card can be picked up the same day, but at a cost 20,000 Kyat. This alternative cost is 15 times the price of the normal replacement fee.

According to a 30 year old villager from Andin village who had recently had to have his ID replaced, “I decided to apply for a new ID by the normal method; I paid, answered a million questions, and then I had to wait six months. My brother on the other hand chose the ‘special’ method, and picked up his ID card that evening”

Villagers who travel face many checkpoints along the way, and authorities check ID cards everywhere. If a villager does not have one, they receive a fine and are forced to return home. Authorities will make no exceptions about villagers traveling without ID cards. In once case a villager had a letter of permission from the village headman, they were fined and many questions were asked.

“Once I was stopped at the cement bridge which is situated at the entrance of Ye town,” said a 40 year old village from Ye town, “I had lost my ID card, but I had a permission letter from a member of the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) that said I was travelling back fromYabu village which is in Kaleinaung Sub-township, Tenasserim Division. While I was allowed back into Ye town, I was fined 3,000 kyat.”

“Many people in Ye township have been migrating to Thailand and need to get their ID cards as quick as possible. They have to pay more money, but they are happy to because they have to travel immediately,” according to a source who spoke with a member of the immigration authority, “But for people who don’t need to travel, they can pay the lower price. However the service is slower because the agents who make the IDs are lazy about the work when they only make the regular fee a villager must pay for a card replacement.”

READ MORE---> Lost ID cards have led to corruption amongst Immigration authorities in Ye township...

Army sergeant dies under interrogation

(DVB)–A Burmese army sergeant suspected of involvement in the theft of firearms and ammunition from an military armoury last week has reportedly died whilst undergoing interrogation.

On 4 May an ammunitions depot belonging to the army’s Light Infantry Battalion 256 in Burma’s Magwe division was raided.

Two days later, masked men robbed a jewellery shop in Yamaethin town, Mandalay division, leaving one dead and two injured.

The firearms used in the robbery are believed to have been those stolen from the armoury.

Sergeant Myint Soe, aged 35, a member of Battalion 256 who was interrogated under suspicion of his involvement in the armoury theft, died en route to the Yamaethin hospital on Sunday.

“People who saw the interrogation said he was kept under burning hot sunlight all day without giving him any water,” said an anonymous source close to the military.

“At the end of the day, they poured a bucket of cold water over his head and then he fainted.”

A hospital staff member, also speaking under condition of anonymity, told DVB that the sergeant was covered in bruises and his fingernails and toenails had been removed.

A Yesagyo resident who lived near the armoury had last week voiced suspicion that the army were involved in the break-in.

“It is impossible to do it without the participation of at least family members of the army,” he said.

“Outsiders dare not come to this kind of territory. They are afraid, as you could be shot if you are too close to the army [camp].

“It is possible that they want to smuggle weapons for sale.”

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

READ MORE---> Army sergeant dies under interrogation...

India deports some Rohingya boat-people to Bangladesh

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Authorities in India’s Andaman Island have begun deporting Rohingya boatpeople, stranded in the Island as of December 2008, to Bangladesh.

An immigration officer of Andaman Island said they have deported 49 Rohingya boat people to Bangladesh since February but said the rest of the 364 people remain.

In December 2008, Indian Navy, tipped-off by local fishermen, rescued more than 400 Rohingya boat-people drifting on wooden boats in the ocean near the Andaman and Nicobar Island.

“They are still here, but 49 people have been deported to Bangladesh. Still there are 364 left,” the official told Mizzima on Wednesday.

He said, the 49 boat-people were deported to Bangladesh on February 25 and they are still waiting for representatives of Bangladesh to accept the rest.

“Now we are waiting for representatives of Bangladesh Embassy to take back the remaining people but nobody has come for them,” the official added.

The official said they have confirmed that all the boatpeople, who claimed to be citizens of Burma, boarded boats in Bangladesh.

“They are in good health and the government continues to provide them facility and accommodation,” said the official. “All of them want to go back to Bangladesh,” he added.

The boat people claimed that they were Burmese citizens, who fled their country for Bangladesh. They sailed off with the hope of reaching Thailand or Malaysia in search of greener pastures.

Late last year and in early 2009, about a thousand Rohingya boat people, who were sailing in the Andaman Sea, were reportedly arrested by Thai authorities.

The boatpeople said, they were arrested and detained briefly by Thai authorities and were later set adrift in the sea on boats without engines and with little food and water.

While another group of about 400 Rohingya boatpeople were also rescued from the coast of Sabang in northern Aceh province of Indonesia in January while 78 others were arrested and detained by Thai authorities in Ranong town.

Kitty Mckinsey, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok, said they are still negotiating with Thailand regarding the 78 Rohingya.

“They are still in the Ranong detention centre, and nothing has been decided about their future yet,” said Mckinsey.

“Thailand has its own procedures for asylum seekers from Myanmar [Burma] and it’s not clear whether the Rohingya would be included under those procedures,” she said, adding that the UNHCR is continuing its efforts in negotiating with the Thai government.

The Rohingya people, who are Muslim minorities, mostly reside in northern Arakan state of Western Burma. Leaders of the Rohingya community said, they are not recognised as citizens, have no right to own property and marriage for them requires permission from the authorities.

Burma, in its state-run newspaper, had declared that Rohingya is not included among the over 130 national races that are recognised in Burma.

According to UNHCR in Bangladesh, there are over 20,000 recognised refugees living in two camps in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, nearly 200,000 others remain unrecognised and are living outside the camps.

READ MORE---> India deports some Rohingya boat-people to Bangladesh...

US embassy still denied access to ‘swimmer’

(DVB)–The US Embassy in Rangoon is yet to meet the man arrested last week after allegedly entering imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s compound, although they remain optimistic that permission will be granted.

The news comes a day after allegations surfaced that the man in question, US citizen John William Yettaw, may have made another visit to the leader of opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) last year.

The source of the allegations was a Burmese website,, which seemingly takes a hostile stance toward the NLD’s leader. No further official information has been reported.

A spokesperson at the American Embassy said the only details they had so far received was confirmation of his name and passport number, but hinted that cooperation from the government had been unsatisfactory.

“We made the request through the Foreign Ministry to see him for consular access but haven’t gotten a favorable reply yet,” said Richard Mei, Public Affairs officer at the embassy.

“But we’re optimistic we will.”

Yettaw was arrested last Wednesday after apparently swimming across Lake Inya in Rangoon, on the shores of which stand Suu Kyi’s compound where she has been held under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.

The state-run Myanmar Ahlin newspaper claimed the man had stayed at the compound for two nights.

Police arresting him allegedly found his passport, some American and Burmese currency, and a video camera.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

READ MORE---> US embassy still denied access to ‘swimmer’...

Australian company pulls out of Burma

(DVB)–An Australian company has announced its withdrawal from Burma after evidence arose that a subsidiary was working on designs for a new airport in the country’s capital, despite Australia’s tough sanctions on Burma.

Downer EDI, one of Australia’s largest engineering companies, recently announced the withdrawal of the contract for its Singapore-based subsidiary CPG’s work on the design of a new airport in Naypyidaw, Burma’s remote jungle capital.

The move followed an investigation by Asia Sentinel newspaper in Singapore.

Journalist Ben Bland, who carried out the investigation, said that Downer EDI claimed they knew nothing of the contract until he contacted them.

“They said this was an ‘unintentional oversight’, which is why they have moved to pull out of Burma so quickly,” he said.

“[They] told me that they were pulling out because ‘our group policy has not been applied at a sub-divisional level’.”

Australia has launched numerous vocal condemnations of the Burmese regime, and last year extended sanctions on the country.

Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council are alleged to have used forced labour in the construction of the new capital, which in 2005 was moved 350 miles north from the previous capital, Rangoon.

“It does seem likely that a lavish new airport in the junta’s secretive capital would benefit the generals more than anyone else,” said Bland.

Downer EDI claim to operate under a ‘zero harm’ policy, and followed the announcement by saying it would investigate closely all contracts it holds.

“We take Zero Harm very seriously and while not insinuating anything against our direct client in Singapore, we believe this action to be in keeping with the intent of our policy,” said Maryanne Graham, corporate affairs manager at Downer EDI.

She added that whilst the design work is being undertaken in Singapore, the project itself is based in Burma, and therefore warranted withdrawal.

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Australian company pulls out of Burma...

Threatening Suu Kyi’s Health

The Irrawaddy News

Here’s a relevant question that no one has raised yet: is the Burmese junta deliberately manipulating events in hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will die from natural causes, which—in this case—would not be natural at all?

That’s not possible, you say? The ruling generals in Naypyidaw see the 63-year-old pro-democracy movement leader as an “enemy of the state.” They believe she’s the No 1 enemy, the leader of the “destructive elements” that threaten their rule and who have sabotaged “the peace and stability of the country.”

So, is it out of the question that the generals would be happy if Suu Kyi died by natural causes or was physically impaired? They can’t assassinate her because of the counterproductive reaction from the international community, even from such loyal allies as China and Russia. But they can ensure that her medical treatment is lacking or dispensed at a minimum level.

You can judge for yourself regarding the incidents that unfolded last week at her lakeside house at No 54 University Avenue. Actually, the house is not a real home for the Nobel peace laureate. For 13 years, it’s been her prison.

Suu Kyi now has low blood pressure; she is dehydrated; she has difficulty eating. In short, she is ill again, but on Thursday her primary physician was barred from visiting her for a routine medical checkup and detained for questioning.

Another doctor treated her with an intravenous drip on Friday. Following her request and demands by the National League for Democracy (NLD), she was allowed to return on Saturday and Monday.

"We are worried about Daw Suu's health,” said NLD spokesman Nyan Win last week.
“Authorities should allow free access of her doctor to give Daw Suu the required medical treatment."

If you look at these and earlier incidents in light of basic humanity, law and human rights you can see a pattern of willful negligence by the regime. Of course, in Burma the local population is used to neglect.

The fact is that Suu Kyi has been detained illegally for 13 years, with no just cause and only the minimum of proper medical treatment, which could lead to an early death or a premature loss of physical strength.

This month is more critical than ever for the junta. Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, said that according to the law, she should be released on May 27, the date marking six years since May 2003 when her NLD motorcade was attacked by a junta-backed mob in upper Burma and she was detained.

Suu Kyi’s lawyer is right, but the generals redo their own rules and laws, using them like a rubber band—to stretch and shrink at will.

For example, Suu Kyi was detained for the first time in 1989 under 10 (b) of the State Provision Act, under which a person could be detained under house arrest for a maximum of three years under the existing law. But one year later, the government changed the law to a maximum of five years. Suu Kyi was detained at that time until 1995, a total of six years.

This is a critical moment for the generals, since they plan to hold a national election in 2010. If Suu Kyi is free, it greatly complicates the election. In 1990, the junta held an election while Suu Kyi was under house arrest, believing the state-backed National Unity Party, formed by former members of the dictator Ne Win’s Burma Socialist Programme Party, could win the election. Instead, Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by landslide.

If a healthy Suu Kyi is free prior to the 2010 election her most loyal supporters and the general public will return to the political activism of 1995 and 2002 when she was free.

In light of that, you should expect the generals to find a way not to release Suu Kyi, in spite of their own law.

So what now? Several options could play out during the course of the next year.

The junta’s rubber-band law could find a way to keep her under house arrest. Or perhaps Suu Kyi does develop a serious illness, effectively limiting her leadership ability.

Or, if the regime does release her—somehow seeing a political gain in that act—it could always fabricate a new reason for her arrest, as it did in 2003.

READ MORE---> Threatening Suu Kyi’s Health...

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