Burma CSO wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, Thai officials accused of violating non-refoulement, again

Burma CSO wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, Thai officials accused of violating non-refoulement, again

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Burma CSO wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Meikswe Myanmar (Friends of Myanmar) was named the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Nansen Refugee Award winner for the Asia region. The UNHCR stated that it recognized the organization’s “longstanding commitment to aiding and empowering communities uprooted by conflict. It also acknowledges their contributions in supporting and building the capacity of local organizations to effectively respond to the needs of displaced populations and host communities.” Meikswe Myanmar Founder Naw Bway Khu said: “Our value is the focus on fragile and forgotten communities that are often in hard-to-access areas, as well as minority groups.” The CSO was founded in 2004 and operates in states and regions across Burma including Shan, Rakhine, and Kayin States, Magway, Mandalay and Yangon Regions. 

Thai officials accused of violating non-refoulement, again

Thai officials forcefully repatriated 300 refugees from Karen State displaced by violence on Sept. 30, according to the European Karen Network. The refugees were forced to flee to the Thai side of the Burma border due to fierce fighting in Sukali Township. The European Karen Network issued a statement on Oct. 4 strongly condemning the actions of Thai authorities. “The Royal Thai government cracks down on refugees fleeing the Burmese military while at the same time cooperating with the Burmese military and while Thai companies help fund the Burmese military…,” said Nan Kyi Aye, the Chairperson of the European Karen Network. The Thai government has tightened its border security due to Burma Army attacks on communities.

Burmese arrested for impersonating Thai officials

Four undocumented Burmese nationals were caught impersonating officials of the Thai Justice Department during an inspection from Thai authorities in Ranong Province, southern Thailand, on Oct. 4, according to Thai news outlet The Siamrath. The undocumented migrant workers, who were wearing the uniforms worn by Thai justice department officials, are reported to have been arrested in a car along with a Thai driver. Those arrested are expected to be prosecuted for impersonating Thai officials as well as for violating Thai immigration law.

News by Region

AYEYARWADY—Burma Army troops have set up checkpoints in Zalun town. According to residents, a local woman was fined K8,000 ($3.81 USD) for not having a bell on her bicycle. She was returning home from the market on Oct. 2. “They even demand [money] for bicycles without bells. Even if everything is perfect, they will find reasons to demand money,” a resident told DVB. Since last year’s coup, the Burma Army has extorted money from locals in towns, villages and cities across the country under the pretext of enforcing traffic regulations.

BAGO—Security in Pyay was increased due to the expected visit by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing on Oct. 4. He is to visit the city’s landmark Shwe San Daw Pagoda to perform a Yadayar – a magic ritual practiced in Burma to prevent misfortune – as previous dictators Ne Win and Than Shwe have done before. According to Pyay residents, uniformed and plainclothes police have been deployed all over the city. Last year, the junta leader’s trip was canceled as reports of his visit were widely circulated in advance.| BURMESE 

NAYPYIDAW—The court hearing for two corruption cases against Aung San Suu Kyi was held at the prison on Oct. 4. The corruption charges stem from allegations that the ousted State Counsellor took bribes from Maung Weik, a local businessperson. A verdict is expected on Oct. 12, according to someone close to the deposed leader. Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty on all charges leveled against her. She was recently convicted and sentenced for violating the Official Secrets Act. Her total jail sentence is currently 23 years. But she faces seven more criminal charges, according to this same source.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) reshuffled its leadership. Khin Yi replaced former brigadier general Than Htay as its chairperson. The announcement was made at the party’s third conference in Naypyidaw on Oct. 4. According to Myanmar Now, two recently retired Burma Army generals were appointed as the party’s first vice chairman and general secretary. It has been reported that disagreements inside the party led to the reshuffle. “There are also financial issues within the party. Everyone thought that Khin Yi would be able to control it,” a USDP member told DVB. Than Htay has faced allegations that tens of thousands of kyats of party funds were lent to some of the party’s members. “Than Htay is not strong… How many party members died while he was the chairman and what did he do? We like a person who doesn’t have issues managing finances,” another party member told DVB. The USDP became a political party in 2010 to represent the military and contest elections against the National League for Democracy (NLD).