Monthly Archives: November 2010

Religious restrictions make Burma a “Country of Particular Concern”: US report

source from Kaladan Press, Tuesday, 23 November 2010 22:14

Chittagong, Bangladesh: Burma is of “particular concern,” as the country’s authoritarian regime imposed restrictions on religious activities of minorities, including Muslims and Christians, said United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during an announcement of the release of a new report on religious freedom and human rights on November 17.

“With this report, we hope to give governments, NGOs and citizens around the world valuable information about the status of religious freedom and a call to action for all of us to work together more effectively to protect it,” she said.

“Such fundamental information would be used in a variety of ways in the coming diplomatic year.”

“With this report, we do not intend to act as a judge of other countries or hold ourselves out as a perfect example, but the United States cares about religious freedom. We have worked hard to enforce religious freedom. We want to see religious freedom available universally. And we want to advocate for the brave men and women who around the world persist in practicing their beliefs in the face of hostility and violence. This report reflects a broad understanding of religious freedom, one that begins with private beliefs and communal religious expression, but doesn’t end there. Religious freedom also includes the right to raise one’s children in one’s faith, to share one’s faith peacefully with others, to publish religious materials without censorship, to change one’s religion – by choice, not coercion, and to practice no religion at all. And it includes the rights of faith communities to come together in social service and public engagement in the broader society," she added.

According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2010, the United States indicates that eight very different countries comprise the central list of those demonstrating minimal commitment to religious freedom and human rights: Burma, China, Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

The military junta has imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and limited freedom of religion, although generally permitted adherents of government-registered religious groups to worship as they chose, the report said.

“The government continued to systematically restrict Buddhist clergy efforts to promote human rights and political freedom. Many of the Buddhist monks arrested in the violent crackdown that followed pro-democracy demonstrations in September 2007, including prominent activist monk U Gambira, remained in prison serving long sentences,” the report stated.

Religious activities and organizations were subject to restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The government continued to monitor meetings and activities of virtually all organizations, including religious organizations, and required religious groups to seek permission from authorities before holding any large public event.

“Christian and Islamic groups continued to struggle to obtain permission to repair places of worship or build new ones.”

During the reporting period, social tensions continued between the Buddhist majority and the Christian and Muslim minorities. Widespread prejudice existed against citizens of South Asian origin, many of whom are Muslims. The government continued to refuse to recognize the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority as citizens and imposed restrictions on their movement and marriage, according to the report.

According to Burmese official statistics, almost 90 percent of the population practices Buddhism, 4 percent Christianity, and 4 percent Islam. These statistics almost certainly underestimating the non-Buddhist proportion of the population. Independent researchers have placed the Muslim population at between 6 and 10 percent.

Islam is practiced widely in Rakhine State and in Rangoon, Irrawaddy, Magwe, and Mandalay Divisions,

Most adherents of government-recognized religious groups generally were allowed to worship as they chose; however, the government imposed restrictions on certain religious activities and frequently limited religious freedom. Anti-discrimination laws do not apply to ethnic groups not formally recognized under the 1982 Citizenship Law, such as the Muslim Rohingyas in northern Rakhine State.

On other hand, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced a resolution on September 30 in the US House of Representatives urging the lifting of restrictions of movement, marriage and access to education imposed on the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, by the military regime in Myanmar.

Burmese law bars members of religious orders from running for public office. Laws published in March 2010 in preparation for November 7 elections also barred members from Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu religious orders (such as priests, monks, and nuns) from voting and joining political parties, as did laws for past elections. The new laws do not mention Muslims.

In December 2009 six Muslims were arrested for distributing an Islamic newsletter without approval.

Citizens and permanent residents were required to carry government-issued National Registration Cards (NRCs) that often indicated religious affiliation and ethnicity. There appeared to be no consistent criteria governing whether a person’s religion was indicated on the card.

Citizens also were required to indicate their religion on certain official application forms for documents such as passports, although passports themselves do not indicate the bearer’s religion. Members of many ethnic and religious minorities faced problems obtaining NRCs, Muslims even more than others.

Authorities frequently refused to approve requests for gatherings to celebrate traditional Christian and Islamic holidays and restricted the number of Muslims who could gather in one place. For instance, in satellite towns surrounding Rangoon, Muslims were only allowed to gather for worship and religious training during major Muslim holidays. During the reporting period, mosques in Mandalay and Rangoon were restricted from using a loudspeaker for the Azan (call to prayer). The government-cited reason for this restriction was that it would upset Buddhist monks.

Government censors continued to enforce restrictions on local publication of the Bible, Qur’an, and other Christian and Islamic texts. The most onerous restriction was a list of more than 100 prohibited words the censors would not allow in Christian or Islamic literature, forbidden as "indigenous terms" or derived from the Pali language long used in Buddhist literature.

Some Christian and Islamic groups in the country have used these words since the colonial period. Some Muslim organizations, which translated and published non-Buddhist religious texts, appealed the restrictions although government authorities have not responded to the appeals.

In addition censors sometimes objected to passages of the Bible’s Old Testament and the Qur’an that they interpreted as endorsing violence against nonbelievers.

Authorities restricted the quantity of imported Bibles and Qur’ans, although individuals continued to bring them into the country in small quantities for personal use.

Muslims across the country, as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians, often were required to obtain permission from township authorities to leave their hometowns. Authorities generally did not grant permission to Rohingya or other Muslims living in Rakhine to travel for any purpose; however, permission was sometimes obtained through bribery.

Muslims residing outside Rakhine state often were barred from return travel to their homes if they visited parts of Rakhine state, but could not return to Rangoon without the signature of the Regional Military Commander.

Muslims in Rakhine state, particularly those of the Rohingya minority group, continued to experience the severest forms of legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination. The government denied citizenship status to Rohingyas, claiming that their ancestors did not reside in the country at the start of British colonial rule, as the 1982 citizenship law required. The Rohingya asserted that their presence in the area predates the British arrival by several centuries.

In February 2010 the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the country visited and noted discrimination against Muslims. Many of the approximately 28,500 Rohingya Muslims registered in two refugee camps in Bangladesh and the estimated 200,000 Rohingya Muslims living outside those camps refused to return to the country because they feared human rights abuses, including religious persecution.

Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey urges the government of Myanmar’s neighbor Bangladesh on September 30 to address “the dire humanitarian conditions and food insecurity in the makeshift camps” for Rohingya refugees on the border and to stop forcing unregistered Rohingya back to Myanmar.

Although essentially treated as illegal foreigners, Rohingya were not issued Foreigner Registration Cards (FRCs). Since they also were not generally eligible for NRCs, Rohingya have been commonly referred to as "stateless." The government continued a program with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that issued Temporary Registration Cards (TRCs) to stateless persons in northern Rakhine State, the majority of whom are Rohingyas.

Without citizenship status Rohingyas did not have access to secondary education in state-run schools. Those Muslim students from Rakhine state who completed high school were not permitted to travel outside the state to attend college or university. Authorities continued to bar from graduating Muslim university students who did not possess NRCs. These students were permitted to attend classes and sit for examinations, but they could not receive diplomas unless they claimed a "foreign" ethnic minority affiliation. Rohingyas also were unable to obtain employment in any civil service positions. Rohingya couples must also obtain government permission to marry.

It remained extremely difficult for Muslims to acquire permission to build new, or repair existing, mosques, although internal renovations were allowed in some cases. Historic mosques in Mawlamyine, Mon State and Sittwe, Rakhine State, as well as other areas, continued to deteriorate because authorities would not allow routine maintenance.

A number of restrictions were in place on the construction or renovation of mosques and religious schools in northern Rakhine State. In some parts of Rakhine State, authorities cordoned off mosques and forbade Muslims to worship in them. Border security forces continued to conduct arbitrary "inspections" of mosques in northern Rakhine State, demanding that mosque officials show permits to operate the mosques.

“Let us pledge our constant support to all who struggle against religious oppression and rededicate ourselves to fostering peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own,” the US President Barack Obama said, according to the US state department website.

"My Administration will continue to oppose growing trends in many parts of the world to restrict religious expression. Faith can bring us closer to one another, and our freedom to practice our faith and follow our conscience is central to our ability to live in harmony," the US President said.


Stop sending Indonesian maids to Saudi Arabia: House Speaker

source from Thestar, 20 Nov 2010,

JAKARTA: A speaker of Indonesian House of Representatives Marzuki Alie suggested a halt to sending Indonesian domestic workers to Saudi Arabia if the authorities there failed to tackle the recent case of torture of an Indonesian domestic worker Sumiati Salan Mustapa.

Quoting Marzuki, China’s Xinhua news agency reported that the torture had humiliated every Indonesian and if the Saudi authority failed to show their goodwill in tackling the case, it would be better for the government to temporarily halt the sending of domestic workers.

Sumiati, 23, from Dompu, Bima, West Nusa Tenggara was brutally tortured in Saudi Arabia, and was hospitalised there for severe physical and psychological abuse.

He said the Indonesian government also must monitor the legal process and start a serious dialogue with the Saudi government to guarantee the safety of Indonesian workers.

"We will assist the government in doing so. A team of inter- faction lawmakers would be formed to assure stronger protection for our workers in Saudi," he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

Junta troops arrest 8 Rohingyas in Buthidaung

source from Kaladan Press, Friday, 19 November 2010 20:21

Buthidaung, Arakan State: Burmese troops in Buthidaung Township arrested eight Rohingya leaders on November 14, leading relatives of one of the detained to suggest that it was in retribution for support of the opposition National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) in Burma’s recent elections.

Soldiers from the Burmese military’s Battalion 552 took the men, all reportedly from well-to-do families with relatives living abroad, into custody last week, where they remain without charges and after having offered money in exchange for their release, a family member of one of the detained said.

The arrested, who all come from the Thanganet village tract, have been identified as Jamir Hussain, 50, Ahmed Hussain, 45, Jamir Hussain, 40, Amin, 25, Basa Meah, 45, Sayedur Rahaman, 45, Moulvi Mohamed, 60, and Moulvi Abu Sofian, 50.

Two of the men, Moulvi Mohamed and Moulvi Abu Sofian, have been severely tortured, according to a family member.

A businessman from the village tract said NDPD Upper House candidate Mostafa Kamal from Thanganet, won nearly 80 percent of the votes in the election, but that the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the junta’s proxy party, ultimately won the constituency.

The heavy support in the area for the opposition NDPD has led many local residents to believe that they have become targets for harassment by the military and local officials.

Reports have emerged that several NDPD supporters have also been arrested and later released after paying bribes.

A local elder who wished not to be named identified some of the detained as Yakub, son of ex-village chairman Sayed Hussain, from Sanganet village, who paid 350,000 kyats for his release; Yousuf, 45, son of Gura Meah, from Yanma village, who was reportedly beaten and robbed of 3,000 kyats; and Zakria, 32, son of the late Amam Ullah, from Yangma village, who was arrested by Captain Kyaw Lin Aung and forced to pay 300,000 kyats for his release.

The elder said that several others have also been arrested and forced to pay thousands of kyats each for their release.

Residents of Buthidaung have identified three additional military officers as being largely responsible for the recent arrests: Captain Zaw Moe Hin, Captain Kyaw Hla Aung, and Captain Khin Soe Moe, all serving under Battalion 552 Major Kyaw Thura.

Kyaw Thura was previously posted in Maungdaw Township, where he was responsible for multiple human rights violations against the local Rohingya community, according to a Burmese military aide who asked not to be named.

Harassment of Rohingyas has also reportedly been carried out by civilian collaborators with the Burmese military, who have attacked villagers while on their way to local markets, said one Buthidaung resident.

Members of Burma’s border security force Nasaka under the command of Major Sein Win stationed in Area 9 have also been accused of harassing Rohingyas who voted for the NDPD.

An elder from a village near Area 9 said that between 30 and 50 villagers each day have been forced to work at the Nasaka camp for as many as 15 days consecutively, from 6am to 5pm, either harvesting crops or serving as porters for soldiers.

Meanwhile, Rohingyas have struggled to carry out their religious ceremonies in commemoration of the Eid-ul-Azah, or Festival of Sacrifice.

The village elder said there is a shortage of fowl and goats because military personnel have seized most of the stocks for their own use.

Residents in Sanganet village tract were allowed to slaughter cattle but only late in the day and after paying 10,000 kyat per head to local soldiers. Traditionally, sacrifices are made in the early morning, the elder said.

He added that there has been little "joy and peace" during this year’s festival among the people of northern Arakan State, as they remain distressed by continued harassment, extortion and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the military.

US: Malaysia has a lot to do to improve on anti-human trafficking efforts

Source from Malaymail, Thursday, November 18th, 2010 13:48:00

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the improvement in ratings by the US State Dept’s annual human trafficking report, there is still much to be improved in Malaysia’s anti-trafficking effort, said US Dept of State Office to Monitor Combat Trafficking in Persons ambassador-at-large, Luis CdeBaca, during his visit to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) this morning.

In an annual report by the US State Dept on human trafficking in 177 countries, Malaysia, which was previously on tier Three, managed to move up the rung to bottom tier Two.

"The move up from tier Three to tier Two reflects improvement by the Malaysian government but we would like to see more done in areas such as care for victims, rehabilitation and it is very important for victims not to be treated as immigration criminals. There should be a support mechanism for them to fall back on when they come forward for such as counseling," CdeBaca said, adding that he would raise these issues in talks with the government today.

Suhakam president, Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said the reason for the slack in dealing with trafficking issues was the lack of understanding among enforcement personnel, lack of government funding, lack of resources and lack of public awareness.

"It is not right for trafficking victims to be treated as immigration criminals," Muhammad Sha’ani said. "There should be a distinction between smuggling and trafficking victims. The government has to understand while smuggling victims pay their way into the country, trafficking victims are exploited and deceived by lucrative job offers. By deporting them after we have used their labour, is wrong."

He also added that the authorities should treat complaints such as unpaid salary, long working hours and abuse as trafficking issues.

"The reason victims do not come forward is because they will be put into confinement and then deported," Muhammad Sha’ani said.

CdeBaca also raised questions on this issue.

"Is the government waiting for people to come up and say I am a victim of trafficking? Because victims don’t know definitions. And if that is so, the government can wait forever. We want a robust, civil society. We don’t want victims to escape into something worse," said CdeBaca.

The amendment in the trafficking Act, to incorporate smuggling, was also questioned, as Muhammad Sha’ani said it was "further victimising the victim".

MTUC Congress Officer Abdul Aziz Ismail, who was also present, said that for every one complaint received, there are 27 unreported cases of human trafficking.

"This will later affect the economy and security of the country. We have to take the courage to punish these traffickers publicly in court."

Malaysia is currently leading in the international human trafficking industry, moving up to 1.2 million victims a year and amounting to USD 1.66 billion a year in corruption money alone.

A large section of victims are those from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China.

Also present at the talk were United States Embassy Political Officer Gregory D’Alesandro and US Dept of State Global Affairs Officer Jason Vorderstrasse.

Refugees’ right to work in Malaysia…to be discussed in special Cabinet meeting on foreign labour next month

Source from Malaymail, Thursday, November 18th, 2010 12:44:00

PETALING JAYA: The government will decide next month whether refugees will be allowed to work in the country.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam told The Malay Mail yesterday that a special Cabinet meeting to discuss issues on foreign workers would be held in mid-December and chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“It was scheduled for last week but had to be postponed as Muhyiddin was away on a working visit to Japan,” he said.

“So, we’ll only know what the Cabinet decides on refugees next month.”

Earlier this year, the Home Ministry had set up a laboratory, comprising representatives from various ministries and agencies, to study foreign workers issues.

“The laboratory came up with about 55 proposals, including the refugee matter, which will all be forwarded to the special Cabinet meeting,” said Mahmood.

“These are merely initiatives and proposals, and whether each will be approved or not is the prerogative of the Cabinet."

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Malaysia has 90,000 registered refugees as of September.

Refugees are currently permitted to do only odd-jobs in this country.

Malaysia does not have special laws for refugees and they are considered illegal immigrants. Issues involving them come under the Immigration Act.

Mahmood said the Home Ministry was mulling suggestions by various quarters, particularly the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), that refugees be allowed to work here while waiting to be resettled to third countries.

The MTUC had hoped they would be permitted to work in labour-strapped sectors to help overcome labour shortages and reduce the need to bring in foreign workers, and believed their proposal would enhance Malaysia’s image as a humane nation.

READ: Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia

Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia


Thursday, November 11th, 2010 15:20:00

KUALA LUMPUR: There were 90,301 refugees in Malaysia registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) up to September this year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk A. Kohilan Pillay said Malaysia cooperated with the UNCHR and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in repatriating refugees to their countries of origin or relocating them to a third country willing to accept them.

"Until now, 49,082 refugees have been sent to third countries, 68 per cent of them through the UNHCR and 32 per cent through IOM," he said in his reply to a question from Hamim Samuri (BN-Ledang) in the Dewan Rakyat, here, today.

Kohilan said issues related to refugees had not been raised by the source countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand during their bilateral talks with Malaysia.

"However, their embassies here would always assist in the documentation process for refugees to be relocated to third countries," he said.

To a supplementary question from M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) on claims that the Malaysian government allowed the exploitatiion of refugees, Kohilan said the UNHCR and IOM were responsible for looking after the registered refugees.

However, he said, Malaysia also assisted in terms of medical aid and educational programmes for them.

He said as there were no special laws for refugees in this country, issues involving them came under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and that refugees were considered as illegal immigrants.

Burma Final election results announced

source from DVB, Published: 18 November 2010

The pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has won Burma’s elections after gaining 76.5 percent of seats across the three parliaments, according to the country’s supreme election authority.Final election results announced thumbnail

USDP general secretary Htay Oo speaks to reporters at the party’s headquarters in Rangoon (Reuters)

The results arrive 11 days after Burmese went to the polls for the first time in two decades, but come as little surprise: the USDP was the strongest contender by a stretch, and received the tacit support of the ruling junta, who choreographed election conditions that appeared to favour the party.

Trailing the USDP, which won 883 of the total 1,154 seats, is the National Unity Party (NUP), which came runner-up in the last polls. Also holding close ties to the ruling junta, the NUP won only 63 seats, the China-based People’s Daily quoted the Election Commission (EC) as saying.

The next four parties all fall within the ‘opposition’ bracket, despite fears before the polls that any pro-democracy candidates would be altogether sidelined. However, the total amount of seats won by these parties makes up only nine percent of the total.

They are, in order: the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), with 57 seats; the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) with 35 seats, and the National Democratic Force (NDF) and All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), each with 16 seats.

The presence of three ethnic-based parties in the top five are a symbolic victory for Burma’s long-marginalised ethnic groups, although their potential clout in a post-election will likely be very limited.

The three parliaments – the People’s Parliament, the Nationalities Parliament and the Regions and States Parliament – are set to convene within 90 days of the vote. A quarter of the seats for each had already been reserved for the military prior to the vote.

It is the winner, the USDP, which has been the target of much of the controversy that dogged the polls. A number of parties are weighing up the possibility of making a formal complaint to the EC about the USDP, but that is both expensive and dangerous, with complainants risking jail terms if unsuccessful.

40 Burmese Troops Wounded by Karen Rebels

Irrawaddy news, 16 N0v 2010,

About 40 Burmese government troops who were wounded in a series of attacks by Karen rebels were taken on Monday evening to a military base near Three Pagodas Pass, according to Mon sources in the area.

Thu Rain, a resident in Three Pagodas Pass Township, said that government forces from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 284 and 270 were attacked twice on Saturday by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) stationed in Brigade 6, and again on Sunday by breakaway troops from Brigade 5 of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).

According to a local source, many of the government troops who were wounded had retreated and stepped on landmines after being forced by KNLA forces toward a minefield outside Kyauk Kwe village, some 20 km from Three Pagodas Pass.

The wounded soldiers were put in a truck and taken to the Burmese army base in Three Pagodas Pass. Sources said it is still unknown how many government soldiers were killed in the three attacks.

The sources said government soldiers from LIB 284 conscripted 15 Mon civilians on Saturday from Tha Thein village to work as porters, carrying their supplies and military equipment. The soldiers threatened to burn down the village if the conscripts refused to comply, according to an eye witness. Villagers in the area had earlier refused to work as porters after the Burmese army battalion was attacked by the KNLA on Saturday.

The 15 villagers were forced to carry military supplies to Three Pagodas Pass, a mountainous walk of about four hours.

Seven Burmese army battalions totaling more than 1,000 troops have been deployed near Three Pagodas Pass after the town was seized by DKBA Brigade 5 on Nov 8. The seven battalions are under the control of the Southeast Military Regional Command based in Moulmein in Mon State and Military Operations Command, based in Tavoy, Tenasserim Division.

Local observers said they believed that the Burmese army had brought in reinforcements to launch a major operation against the troops from DKBA Brigade 5 who are currently stationed at a base near the town.

The situation in Three Pagodas Pass was said by observers to be “more stable” since the clashes between the breakaway Karen faction and government troops last week. However, local residents said they still fear further hostilities could break out at any time as the KNLA and DKBA Brigade 5 are coordinating their attacks on the Burmese army in the area.

Clashes between the Karen rebels and Burmese troops have increased near Three Pagodas Pass since Karen soldiers ambushed government reinforcements en route to Three Pagodas Pass.

The Thai army has announced that it will not allow Burmese villagers to cross the border again if hostilities resume. Observers say this policy is a result of a request by the Burmese government to the Thais to deny shelter to Burmese refugees, and a Burmese demand that the Thai authorities pay 100,000 baht (US $3,000) compensation for any Burmese citizen killed on Thai soil.

Meanwhile, further north in Shan State, conflict has resumed on Tuesday between Burmese government forces and the Shan State Army-North.

UK govt warns against ‘forgetting’ Giri

Published: 16 November 2010

UK govt warns against ‘forgetting’ Giri thumbnail

Britain has pledged aid to more than 100,000 people in western Burma still lacking adequate food and water following cyclone Giri last month.

It comes as the Japanese foreign ministry today announced it had offered $US500,000 for the delivery of food aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) to victims of the 22 October cyclone, which left nearly 90,000 people homeless in Arakan state.

A statement from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) said that more than 260,000 people had been severely affected “and are in urgent need of emergency aid”.

In addition, local medical facilities were washed away, “causing the local health care system to collapse”, the statement said.

“This disaster was in danger of being forgotten, ignored and unseen by the international community,” said the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell.

The past two weeks in Burma have been dominated by the 7 November elections and the release one week later of opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, but the situation in several townships in Arakan state remains critical.

“Thousands of families have lost their homes, crops have been flooded, houses destroyed and villages wiped out. Many families are completely dependant on aid for their survival.

He added that unless urgent assistance is given, “the situation will continue to deteriorate, as a lack of food and disease spreads amongst the survivors”. According to aid agencies cited in the statement, more than 200,000 people will need emergency food aid for at least the next three months.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said last week that 16,187 hectares of rice paddy – or 40 to 50 percent of the harvestable area – were destroyed by Giri. In contrast, May 2008’s cyclone Nargis – Burma’s worst recorded natural disaster – destroyed around 1.75 million hectares of farmland, or 30 percent of the wet season rice area for the entire country.

Karen refugees flee further clashes

Published: 16 November 2010

Hundreds of refugees have fled a second wave of fighting along Burma’s border with Thailand close to Waw Lay, a former stronghold of a breakaway Karen army faction.

Karen refugees flee further clashes thumbnailEstimates of the number of people sheltering in Thailand’s Phop Phra district, in Tak province, vary: a source on the border told DVB that 350 refugees fled, while the Bangkok Post put the figure at 600.

A week ago some 20,000 people, the majority from Myawaddy town in Karen state, poured into Thailand after clashes erupted between a renegade faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and Burmese troops.

While most of these returned several days later, the situation along the border still remains volatile. The fighting yesterday was triggered after DKBA troops returned to their base at Waw Lay, which was captured last week, and encountered a Burmese army soldiers.

A DKBA official told DVB that troops that the group had also attacked the nearby Bayinnaung Hill and Kanaelay army outposts. The Burmese army retaliated by firing artillery shells into Waw Lay, injuring two villagers who are now in hospital in Thailand’s border town of Mae Sot.

Schools in Myawaddy meanwhile have reopened after closing last week as the town emptied of residents. The main market, where several locals were killed in the crossfire in 8 November, has also been teeming with people since it reopened.

Army checkpoints that were set up along the road into Myawaddy prior to elections have also been removed, although one resident said that toll fee for freight trucks carrying goods from Thailand into Burma have been raised from 50,000 kyat ($US50) to 80,000 kyat ($US80) per truck.

Additional reporting by Aye Nai

Some Burmese nationals in Mizoram may be pushed back

15 Nov 2010, burma news intl

15 November 2010: The recent rape and murder of a 5 year-old girl by a Burmese man has put people from Burma residing in Mizoram, northeast state of India, in a difficult situation. Perturbed authorities in Mizoram may push back some Burmese nationals in their respective blocks in Aizawl city.

aizawl-300x225According to ‘The Zoram Times’ the Chhimphei Village Council (VC) announced on 11 November that it would push back all Burmese people in Aizawl South II area, immediately.

The newspaper added that the villagers in Aizawl South-III, where the rape and murder took place, do not want to see the face of Burmese people anymore. They intend to ask them to leave their villages.

Similarly, the newspaper also said that “leaders of the VC from 20 villages in Aibawk RD Block area held a meeting on 10 November regarding the Burmese people. The meeting adopted a resolution that a person has to get permission from the VC and the Young Mizo Association (YMA) to hire Burmese people for work.”

The Aizawl Post said that the authorities of Mizoram state are also contemplating action on Burmese people, who are involved in crimes, as they cannot push them back and hand them over to the Burmese regime without the permission of India’s central government.

The Home Minister of Mizoram state, Pu R. Zirliana said, “We cannot do it directly from our side as there is a question of human rights. The only way we can do it is following a talk with the Burmese government.”

People in Mizoram are very angry because this is the second rape case in recent times in Mizoram by Burmese nationals.

“We are ashamed to show our face because of such things,” said a Chin elder in Aizawl regarding the rape cases.

Meanwhile, a Mizo’s women group called Mizo Hmeichhia Insuihkhawm Pawl(MHIP), held a prayer ceremony – “Black Day” on 12 November to stop violence on women in Mizoram.

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