Friday, January 22, 2010

Rights group concerned over Thai policy on refugees, migrants

By Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Deteriorating human rights records is in evidence in Thailand given the country’s policy on migrant workers and refugees, the Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2010.

The HRW released a 612-page report on Wednesday, the organization's 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It evaluated the situation in Thailand, and said that the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had largely failed to fulfill its pledges to make human rights a priority.

Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch said while Prime Minister Abhisit sometimes said the right things about human rights in 2009, his actions didn't match his words. "The government continually undermined respect for human rights and the due process of law in Thailand."

Abhisit's government blatantly flouted Thailand's obligations under international law to protect refugees and asylum seekers, the group said.

The expression of the hostile policy towards refugees and asylum seekers, was in evidence in January 2009, when in his capacity as chairman of the National Security Council, Abhisit approved a directive authorizing the military to intercept boats carrying ethnic Rohingya from Burma and Bangladesh.

The Thai Navy subsequently intercepted several boats transporting Rohingya and towed the rickety vessels back to the ocean with inadequate supplies of food and water. While Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, the Thai government has an obligation under international law of nonrefoulement (non-return) of persons to places where their life or freedom is at risk.

"Prime Minister Abhisit did not honour his pledge to uphold human rights principles and international law in 2009," Adams said. "Getting Thailand back on track as a rights-respecting nation in 2010 is crucial both for the country and the region."

The Thai government gave the green signal to the army to deport more than 4,600 Lao Hmong refugees and asylum seekers on December 28, despite international concerns including that of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Secretary-General.

HRW also noted the failure to act against official abuses by the police. Despite the government's strong opposition to the violent approach to drug eradication by the exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, it remained unwilling to bring to justice officials allegedly responsible for more than 2,500 unresolved extrajudicial killings and serious abuses committed during Thaksin's 2003 "war on drugs" and the ongoing drug suppression operations by the police.

“At the local level, the government continued to ignore systemic police violence and extortion targeting the over two million migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos,” HRW noted.

In addition, the other human rights backslide in Thailand are the growing crackdowns on protesters and other political critics, including intensive surveillance of the internet and a failure to curb abuses by security forces in response to the longtime insurgency in the south.

Burma Newscasts - Rights group concerned over Thai policy on refugees, migrants
Friday, 22 January 2010 15:31

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USDA woos Muslims in Kachin state ahead of elections

By Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) is out to woo the Muslim community living in Myitkyina since early this month for the forthcoming 2010 general elections.

Though the 2010 Electoral Law is yet to be enacted and promulgated by the junta, some political parties and organizations including USDA have been allowed to start campaign.

A delegation led by Khin Maung Latt, elder brother of Burma’s Postal and Telecommunication Minister Brig. Gen. Thein Zaw, who is a candidate in the elections in Kahcin State, where a majority are Christians, is organizing Muslims at mosques in Myitkyina.

He told the Muslim community that peace and religious equality has been achieved during military rule so they should vote for Brig. Gen. Thein Zaw representing the USDA and nominated by the junta,” an attendee at one of the mosques told Mizzima.
(JEG's: Is it because of peace and religious equality under the junta that the Rohingya are stateless?)

The campaign team comprised Myitkyina native Khin Maung Latt, BSPP party member and former Township (administrative) Council Secretary, Kachin State USDA Executive Committee member Dr. Khin Maung Tun, retired Maj. Myint Swe, and retired Lt. Col. Myo Swe, who is mobilizing minority Muslims in Myitkyina.

They concluded the poll campaign in three mosques of the officially permitted seven in seven Wards of Myitkyina. There are over 700 Muslim devotees at these mosques, it is learnt.

The team rounded off their election campaign in Aung Nan Ward on January 1, in Kyun Pin Thar Ward on January 8, in Khay Mar Thiri on January 15 respectively. A Muslim community member from Min Yat Ward said that campaign in this ward today had to be cancelled.

Brig. Gen. Thein Zaw is running the ‘Setana Pyee Phyo’ and ‘Parami’ free clinics for people in 18 wards and villages in Myitkyina including Sitapu, Dukathaung, Naung Nan, Shwe Set, Sha Daung, a local resident said. (JEG's: will the clinics run free after elections???)

The Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP) is also planning to contest the elections. They have already conducted election campaign in 18 townships in Kachin State.

According to government statistics, there are 46 million Buddhists, three million Christians, two million Muslims and three million Hindus in Burma.

Burma Newscasts - USDA woos Muslims in Kachin state ahead of elections -
Friday, 22 January 2010 21:36

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Final arguments heard in Burmese-American’s trial

By Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The final arguments by all lawyers in the trial against Burmese-born American citizen, Kyaw Zaw Lwin (aka) Nyi Nyi Aung was heard by a special court in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison on Friday.

Nyan Win, one of the defence lawyers of the American citizen said “Today we submitted our final arguments. The verdict will be given on January 27.”

Arrested on September 3, 2009, Nyi Nyi Aung is facing trial on charges of fraud, forgery, illegal possession of foreign currency and charges under the Immigration Act.

However, his international counsel in New York, Beth Schwanke earlier told Mizzima that the charges were baseless and were cooked up to arrest and sentence her client as he is a well known pro-democracy activist, advocating democracy and human rights in Burma.

The Burmese-American was a student activist, involved in the nation-wide pro-democracy uprising in 1988. He was forced to flee to neighbouring Thailand in the wake of the military’s brutal crackdown on protesters.

Later, he migrated to Maryland in United States, where he was naturalized as a citizen.

Burma’s state-run media, the New Light of Myanmar, however, accused him of having entered the country secretly in disguise eight times. He was also accused of having maintained contacts with underground activists, planning to instigate public unrest.

However, the charge-sheet against him in court does not include any of the newspaper’s accusations but merely accuses Nyi Nyi Aung of using a fake Burmese national identity card, lying to the immigration, and possessing foreign currency.

Schwanke denied the first two charges and said Nyi Nyi Aung was arrested as he stepped out of the Bangkok-Rangoon Thai Airways International (TG) flight, even before he could approach the custom’s desk to declare his foreign currency. (JEG's: he is a foreigner on a visiting trip he is to carry foreign currency on him...)

“We don’t know what will be the outcome of the trial. We will have to wait and see on January 27. The court will decide what we will be doing next,” Nyan Win said.

Supreme Court advocates, Nyan Win and Kyi Win, who jointly defended detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last year, teamed-up to defend the Burmese-American at the Southern District Court.

Burma Newscasts - Final arguments heard in Burmese-American’s trial - 22 January 2010

READ MORE---> Final arguments heard in Burmese-American’s trial...

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