Monthly Archives: December 2009

SAVE STRANDED ROHINGYA BOATPEOPLE IN INDONESIA


by rearcher Theng,

We, at the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR), exile, South East Asia Regional Office is deeply concerned over the ill-treatment on Rohingya Burmese boatpeople in Indonesai.

Recently, 195 Rohingya boatpeople were shifted from Sabang and Idi Reyeuk, Aceh Timur district to Medan, North Sumatra.

The boat people who have been given accommodation in Weh island, Sabang district, arrived by MV Express Bahari 3B at Ulee Lheue port in Banda Aceh at 7:15 local time on Thursday morning.

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has facilitated the boat people by transportation of a number of buses from Ulee Lheue port to Medan.

After arriving in Medan, the Rohingya boatpeople are treated as wild animals and kept under the open sky, while no food and drinks are regularly provided. They are also facing inhuman troubles as concern refugee agency is reportedly branded them illegal or undocumented refugees.

The health situation of these Rohingya boatpeople are worsening once again and no appropriate measures are taken by both Indonesian authorities and international community.

In this regards, we call upon the Indonesia Government to immediately facilitate the safety of these Rohingya refugees, who left Burma to escape brutal persecution of regime and were victimized by Thai authorities as well.

We also appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO) and etc. to urgently reach to the place of Rohingya refugees in Medan of North Sumatra, Indonesia with a view to fulfilling the needs of these vulnerable souls.

We also appeal to the International community to install pressure on Indonesia Government to fulfill its commitment of assistance towards these refugees as the Governments declaration in early this year and to encourage concern refugee agencies and parties to 1951 UN Convention an its 1967 Protocol Relating to the status of Refugees to resolved the problems as urgent burden sharing.

Executive Committee

National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR), exile

South East Asia Regional Office

for Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand

For further information, please contact:

Ko Aung Naing, Tel: +060 163094599

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 2, 2009

 US States Deparrtment News, 2 Dec 2009,

Modern slavery – be it bonded labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual slavery – is a crime and cannot be tolerated in any culture, community, or country. Sadly, slavery persists around the globe, including within the United States. Every day millions of men, women, and children of all ages face forced labor and sexual exploitation, as well as brutal violence.”

The destructive effects of modern slavery have an impact on all of us. It weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, creates violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. It undermines our long-term efforts to promote peace and prosperity worldwide. And it is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.

On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, I reaffirm the commitment of the United States to end this scourge. Modern slavery is a global phenomenon and must be addressed with global partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society. Through new partnerships, the United States and the international community will work to rescue and serve survivors, bring traffickers to justice, and create a world where every person has the freedom and opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential.

UN in Malaysia Grants More Burmese Refugee Status


Irrawaddy News, 2 Dec 2009

About 11,000 Burmese refugees in Malaysia including Chin, Mon, Shan and Kachin were recognized by the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2009, making them eligible for  resettlement in third countries.

Of the total, Chin numbered about 5,000 people; Mon, 1,800; followed by Kachin and Shan at about 1,000 and other ethnic groups. Arakan were not recognized this year.

A young Burmese refugee participates a demonstration outside the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year. (Photo: AP)

It was first time the UNHCR recognized such a large number of Burmese refugees. Burmese refugees experienced difficulties earlier this year when Thailand launched a crackdown on illegal Burmese migrants attempting to enter the country from the Malaysia-Thai border, said a member of the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR).

According to ACR, about 50,000 Chin currently live in Malaysia. An estimated 20,000 Chin have been granted UNHCR refugees status in Malaysia since 2001.

Nai Roi Mon, an official with the Mon Refugee Office (MRO) in Malaysia, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that it processed about 3,000 Mon for UNHCR refugee status.

According to the MRO, no Mon were granted refugee status in 2007, and only 500 were recognized in 2008.

“They have given favorable recognition to children under age 18, especially from families with many children, but no husband. They also favor older men, over 50, as well,” he said.

There are about 20,000 Mon living in Malaysia, many illegally, according to the MRO.

“If you have an UNHCR card, if you are arrested the UNHCR can  help you during detention. This is an advantage for people who work here,” he said.

Burmese refugees recognized by the UNHCR may wait for up to one year or longer for resettlement to third countries.

About 500,000 Burmese migrants work in Malaysia, legally and illegally, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Burma Workers’ Rights Protection Committee.

At the end of October 2009, about 67,800 refugees and asylum-seekers were registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia, according to the UNHCR.

Of those, 62,000 are refugees from Burma, comprising 28,100 Chin, 16,100 Rohingya, 3,700 Burmese Muslims, 2,900 Kachin and other ethnic minorities.

The UNHCR said a large number of Burmese refugees remain unregistered. The refugee community estimates that unregistered refugees and asylum-seekers could number 30,000 people.

Burmese refugees living in Thailand continue to relocated to Malaysia to apply for refugee status. Many pay 18,000 Thai baht (US $500) or more to enter the country illegally.

The Malaysian government has cooperated with the UNHCR on humanitarian grounds since 1975 even though Malaysia has not signed the UN Convention Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Burmese refugees have been sent to third countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway.

95 Trafficking Victims Freed


Irrawaddy news, 1 Dec 2009,

Ninety-five Burmese migrants, who were trafficked into Thailand from Burma by gangs, were freed from captivity this week when police and human rights activists raided houses in southern Thailand. The migrants are currently being held at a military base while Thai authorities try to round up members of the trafficking gang. 

Fifty-one men who had been forced to work on fishing boats were rescued from Trang Province in southern Thailand on Nov. 23, while 44 women who had been trafficked into Ranong Province to work in brothels were freed after a raid on Nov. 27. 

Nai Harry, a social worker who is involved with an anti-human trafficking group based in Mahachai, near Bangkok, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that after following a tip-off from one of the trafficked fishermen in Trang, his group rescued the 51 men.

“We went early in the morning after we got a phone call from someone. We thought there would only be a few people, but when we got there we found there were many men on the boat who had been locked in their cabins,” he said. 

Nai Harry, who declined to name his organization because of security fears, said the 51 victims were from the Irrawaddy delta, Pegu, Mon State and Tenasserim Division. They were forced to work on Thai fishing boats, some working for 18 months without pay, others working for three years without pay. He said that the trafficked Burmese men were forbidden from going ashore and were locked in their cabins when they were not working.

In Ranong, 44 women were rescued by the anti-human trafficking group after the organization fixed a price to buy the women’s freedom, a group member said on Monday. Many of the women are ethnic Mon from eastern Burma.

A member of the anti-human trafficking group in Ranong said that they first rescued 12 women who were severely ill with AIDS and who had been dumped in a local house and left to die. The other 32 women were allowed to leave after the group agreed a price with the traffickers.

The NGO member said 28 women were trafficked to work at the brothel last year while the other four just arrived two weeks ago.

Naing Naing, one of the trafficking victims in Trang, told Nai Harry that he is from Tavoy Township in Tenasserim Division. He said he was forced to work for seven months on the boat, during which time his salary was used to pay back his trafficking fees––some 25,000 baht (US $750).

Naing Naing said that he had requested to be set free after seven months working on the boat, but the boat owner refused. However, he managed to sneak ashore and telephone the anti-trafficking group in Mahachai.

According to Naing Naing, if trafficked migrants on the boat argued with the owner they were routinely killed and thrown overboard, and some were sold on to another fishing boat owner in Indonesia.

According to Nai Harry, the 51 fishermen were paid nothing for their labor. The 300 baht ($9) monthly salary the boat owner paid went directly to the trafficking broker.

Although several members of the trafficking gang have reportedly been arrested, others escaped. Two of the brokers are said to be ethnic Mon men from Burma. The Thai authorities are reportedly investigating the case.

Most victims said that they were trafficked by road to Myawaddy Township on the Thai-Burmese border. They were reportedly told they would get work on a construction site and receive good salaries.

In October, Thai police and human right activists in Mahachai raided two brokers’ houses and rescued 18 people who had been detained on a fishing boat.

The human trafficking problem has led to an estimated 1,000 fishermen jumping ship and living on islands in Indonesia to escape the ill-treatment of boat captains, according to human rights activists in Mahachai.

Security Sweep Rounds Up Migrants


Irrawaddy news, 25 Nov 2009

About 62 Burmese migrants who work at the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai were arrested on Tuesday, reportedly as part of a security sweep prior to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s two-day visit to Chiang Mai starting on November 28.

Aung Toe, 40, a Burmese migrant, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, “They arrested many people while they were working, including some who had work permits.”

He said authorities swept through the popular Night Bazaar looking for people who appeared to  be Burmese.

“I escaped  because I look more Chinese or Japanese,” Aung Toe said.

Another Burmese worker in the market, Phe Be, said  people who tried to run away were beaten by police.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will be in Chiang Mai on a two-day visit, his first since he was elected one year ago.

The security in the city is tighter than before since a local radio station announcer who supports anti-government group reportedly made threatening remarks about taking the prime minister’s life if he came to Chiang Mai. The government is investigating the threat.

An opposition political group, known as the Red Shirts, has said it will hold demonstrations during the prime minister’s visit.

Jackie Pollock, a founder of of the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP), a Chiang Mai-based NGO said, “The challenge to the current administration is from the electorate, not from the migrants who have no political rights. To try and silence a group of people like the migrants who are already silenced makes little sense beyond diverting the media and others’ attention away from the real issues.”

An estimated 80,000 Burmese migrants—both registered and unregistered—work in the Chiang Mai area. The majority are ethnic Shan.

Stop Arresting Cyclone Aid Activists: AI


Irrawaddy news, 24 Nov 2009,

In a statement released on Tuesday, Amnesty International (AI), the UK-based human rights watchdog, urged international donors meeting in Bangkok this week to pressure the Burmese military regime to “end harassment of activists trying to help survivors of Cyclone Nargis, and ensure sufficient aid reaches those affected.”   

About ten political activists and journalists—seven are members of Lin Lat Kyei (Shining Star), a group founded in 2008 devoted to relief and social activism—were arrested by the Burmese authorities in late October, allegedly for accepting relief donations from abroad, according to sources in Rangoon.

The ten were among at least 41 dissidents arrested in October as part of a broader crackdown by the Burmese authorities, according to the AI statement.

The recently arrested aid workers and journalists are now in Burmese prisons, joining other imprisoned activists involved in helping cyclone victims, such as the famous comedian Zarganar and sports writer Zaw Thet Htwe.  

The most recent crackdown precedes the 25 November meeting of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) founded in May 2008. The group comprises high-level representatives from the Burmese government, the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) who monitor, coordinate and facilitate international aid to Cyclone Nargis affected regions.

“Leaders meeting in Bangkok must ensure the required aid is forthcoming and reaches those who need it,” said Benjamin Zawacki, a researcher for Amnesty International on Burma affairs.  “More than 18 months after the cyclone, the survivors still require critical support from the international community. 

“The international community should increase its donations and demand transparency, accountability, and non-discrimination in the distribution of aid,” he said.  

International aid agencies say additional financial support is still required to build new houses, shelters, livelihood programs, water and sanitation facilities, education facilities, and health services to hundreds of thousands of Cyclone survivors in affected areas.  

The TCG’s three-year project for post-cyclone recovery efforts has a projected cost of US$691 million, but only $125 million has been committed, according to the AI.  

In October the US pledged to fund US $10 million through international nongovernmental organizations for Nargis-related recovery programs, and the EU committed to fund 35 million Euros (US $51.5 million) for the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust fund.

Cyclone Nargis slammed into Burma’s Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon division on 2-3 May 2008, leaving 140,000 people dead or missing.

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