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Archive for April 10th, 2008

54 Burmese Illegal Immigrants Die Inside Container Van

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54 Burmese Illegal Immigrants Die Inside Container Van
AHN –

died in transit while those who survived were seriously ill According to local police commander in southern Ranong province near the Myanmar border Col. …
54 Burmese illegal migrants suffocate in container AsiaNews.it
54 Myanmar migrants die in seafood container: Thai police AFP
54 illegal Myanmar labourers suffocate in Thai container truck Earthtimes
United Press InternationalTelegraph.co.uk
all 423 news articles »

54 Myanmar Migrants Die in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Fifty-four illegal migrants from Myanmar, most of them women, suffocated in the back of an unventilated truck in southern Thailand while being smuggled to the resort island of Phuket, police said Thursday.

The victims, along with 47 survivors, had entered Thailand to seek jobs in the booming tourist center.

They had been forced to stand in the locked and sweltering container area of the truck, normally used to carry seafood, police and survivors said.

They were on the road in Ranong province near Myanmar for about two hours late Wednesday when they started collapsing, they said. Temperatures in the province reached 93 Wednesday.

“I thought everyone was going to die,” Saw Win, a 30-year-old survivor, told The Associated Press from police custody. “If the truck had driven for 30 minutes more, I would have died for sure.”

He said that about 30 minutes into the trip the occupants pounded on the inside of the truck, screamed for air and used a mobile phone to call the driver, who briefly turned on air conditioning.

The air conditioning later shut down, and they called the driver again 30 minutes later but his phone was off. They continued pounding and screaming until he stopped the truck about an hour later, unlocked the door and ran off when he saw the state of the victims, Saw Win said.

A translator for police gave a slightly different account of the incident based on his conversations with survivors.

He said the air conditioning had broken down while the truck was waiting for a police checkpoint to close for the night.

The translator, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the driver ran away without unlocking the door.

It was only when nearby villagers heard screams and banging from the vehicle that they came to investigate and opened the doors, he said.

“When police got to the scene, they found that 54 of the workers were already dead in the packed container truck,” said Col. Kraithong Chanthongbai, police chief for Ranong’s Suksamran district. Thirty-seven of the dead were women and 17 were men.

Kraithong said 21 of the survivors were hospitalized, and the rest held for questioning.

No officials at Thailand’s Labor Ministry, which regulates foreign workers, were available for comment, despite repeated phone calls to their offices.

Television reports showed police lifting bodies out of the truck until it was emptied except for a few pieces of clothing.

The dead — many wearing little more than T-shirts, shorts and sandals — were laid out on the floor of a storage facility of a local charity.

Survivors told police that they each paid $315 to be smuggled into Thailand.

Police were searching for the truck’s driver and members of the smuggling gang they believed arranged the trip.

The truck’s owner, who was detained for questioning, claimed he was unaware the vehicle was being used to transport migrants from Myanmar, police said. He was not under arrest.

The survivors told police they arrived in Ranong province, about 290 miles south of Bangkok, from Myanmar’s Victoria Point by fishing boat Wednesday night, Kraithong said.

There are about a million Myanmar workers registered to work in Thailand, and an additional million estimated to be working here illegally. Large numbers of illegal migrants also come from Thailand’s other poor neighbors, Cambodia and Laos.

The illegal workers lack legal protection and are often ruthlessly exploited.

The incident was reminiscent of the deaths in 2001 of 58 illegal Chinese migrants in a sweltering tomato truck in Britain, which exposed the murky underworld of people-smuggling gangs profiting from migrants who hope to earn a living in more developed countries.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hwtNYmW0bozRvbfBRwY6q2AwQA6gD8VUUJGG0

Related News

Myanmar migrants suffocate in lorry

The migrant workers suffocated in the back of a
lorry while en route to Phuket

At least 54 migrant workers from Myanmar – most of them women – have suffocated to death in the back of a lorry in southern Thailand.
They were among 121 people being smuggled inside the freezer lorry used to transport seafood late on Wednesday to the Thai resort island of Phuket to work as labourers, police Colonel Kraithong Chanthongbai said.
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Of the dead, 37 were women and 17 were men. Police say the driver failed to turn on the air-conditioning in the back of the lorry.
He stopped driving when he heard people banging on the walls and fled after opening the door to the container and seeing the bodies.
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Kraithong told the AFP news agency that the migrants “tried to bang on the walls of the container to tell the driver they were dying, but he told them to shut up as police would hear them when they crossed through checkpoints inside Thailand”.

Migrant labour

Police said on Thursday that more than 20 of the 67 survivors had been hospitalised, with the rest detained for questioning.

The migrants reportedly each paid a smuggling ring $157 to be taken to Phuket to find jobs.

According to Thailand’s labour ministry, about 540,000 migrant workers mostly from Myanmar are registered to work in the country.

But rights groups claim that as many as a million undocumented workers could be working in Thailand and are often subjected to exploitation by employers.

Tens of thousands of people also flee persecution and poverty in Myanmar, with many ending up in Malaysia where they are not given refugee status and are classified as illegals.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/97CEE52C-BD8E-44FB-9106-3E6BB2A662A9.htm

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

April 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm

2008 Beijin Olympic torch worldwide relay

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OLYMPIC FLAME HAS HISTORY

The Beijing Olympics torch arrived in San Francisco early Tuesday for its only stop in North America during a 130-day relay. The torch relay will begin at McCovey Cove at AT&T Park at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.

The flame initially was scheduled to be passed by dozens of runners along a 6-mile route, but Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the route would be shortened because of security concerns. The Olympic flame is kept in a nearby lantern that is heavily guarded; there are backup lanterns carrying a flame in case there’s a problem.

Key facts about the Olympic torch:

In the ancient Olympics, which began in Greece in 776 B.C., a fire was kept burning to honor Zeus, the father of Greek gods and goddesses.

The modern Olympics began in 1896, but a flame wasn’t used until the Amsterdam Games in 1928, when one was built into an Olympic stadium tower. It was seen as a symbolic link between the old and new games. The torch now is ignited several months before the Games at the ruins of the Temple of Hera, in Olympia, southern Greece, site of the ancient Olympics.

The first modern Olympic torch relay was introduced in the 1936 Berlin Games, an Olympics awash in the propaganda of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Until the 2004 Games in Athens, the relay largely was an event that went from Greece to the host nation. With Greece hosting the Games in 2004, the torch was carried on a worldwide tour through 27 nations.

Other recent controversies involving the torch:

2005: In December, the torch en route to the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, was stopped in Genoa by 100 protesters who opposed globalization and construction of a local high-speed railway. The torch was extinguished as a precaution.

2007: In September, Taiwan officials announced they would not receive the Beijing torch as part of the relay’s domestic route in China. Taiwan, a self-ruled island China claims as its own, wanted to be part of the international route. Angry Chinese officials canceled plans for Taiwan to take part in the relay.

From staff and wire reports

http://i.usatoday.net/news/graphics/oly_torch_route.gif

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

April 10, 2008 at 4:35 am

Myanmar constitution referendum set for May 10

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Myanmar constitution referendum set for May 10
Katerina Ossenova at 2:46 PM ET

Photo source or description

[JURIST] Myanmar’s 45-member Referendum Holding Commission has scheduled a planned national constitutional referendum [JURIST reports] for May 10, the military government announced Wednesday. Opposition groups like the National League for Democracy (NLD) have urged citizens to reject [JURIST report] the proposed constitution put forth by the military government, labeling the referendum a “sham” to legalize military rule. AP reported last month that the draft constitution reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military [AP report; JURIST report] and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking office.

Myanmar [JURIST news archive] has been governed without a constitution since the military regime took power in 1988 and talks on a new national charter [JURIST report] have been underway for 14 years. The last general elections in Myanmar were held in 1990. The NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won that election easily, but the ruling military government did not recognize the result and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest.

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2008/04/myanmar-constitution-referendum-set-for.php

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Myanmar junta sets date for referendum

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s military government announced Wednesday that it has scheduled its national referendum on a new constitution for May 10.

art.myanmar.jpg

Myanmar has been under mounting pressure over its crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The government’s Referendum Holding Commission said the date was set because the 45-member body had met and judged arrangements to be “ready.” The announcement was broadcast on state radio and television news.

Pro-democracy groups have already urged voters to reject the draft charter, which they charge is meant to perpetuate military control.

The government in February had announced that the vote would be held in May, but had not given an exact date. Its rules said only that the date had to be announced at least 21 days in advance.

The junta earlier Wednesday published the text of its proposed constitution, which would guarantee the military a continuing role in government and ban Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from holding public office.

The government’s opponents had criticized the junta for not releasing it earlier, since a committee hand-picked by the military completed it on February 19.

Copies of the 457-article, 194-page document went on sale at government bookshops Wednesday for 1,000 kyat ($1) a copy. Copies of the text began to leak to journalists last week, after being distributed to selected officials.

Opposition leader Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party urged voters last week to reject the proposed charter because it was drafted under the junta’s direct control, without any input from the country’s pro-democracy movement.

The draft constitution will be adopted if more than half of eligible voters approve it.

The document bans anyone who enjoyed the rights and privileges of a foreign citizen from holding public office. This would keep Suu Kyi out of government because her late husband, Michael Aris, was a Briton and their two sons are British.

Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest, has been in detention without trial for more than 12 of the past 18 years.

The proposed charter allots 25 percent of the seats in both houses of Parliament to the military. It empowers the president to transfer legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military’s commander in chief for a year if a state of emergency arises.

It also stipulates that no amendments to the charter can be made without the consent of more than 75 percent of lawmakers, making changes unlikely unless supported by military representatives in Parliament.

The proposed charter also would protect junta members from legal prosecution for any acts carried out as part of their official duties.

The junta has been accused of gross human rights violations in suppressing the pro-democracy movement and in operations against ethnic minorities seeking autonomy or independence.

The junta announced in February that a constitutional referendum would be held in May, to be followed by general elections in 2010. The exact dates have not been announced.

Suu Kyi’s party won the last general elections in 1990, but the military refused to hand over power, instead stepping up its repression of dissidents.

The charter is based on a set of guidelines that a military-guided national convention completed last year after 14 years of on-and-off meetings. The junta calls the process starting with the convention and culminating in the general elections its “roadmap to democracy.”

Other groups urging a rejection of the charter include the 88 Generation Students group and the All Burma Monks’ Alliance, which were instrumental in organizing mass pro-democracy protests last year. Most of the leaders of the two groups are under arrest or in hiding.

Myanmar has been without a constitution since 1988, when the current junta took power and scrapped the previous charter after violently quashing mass pro-democracy demonstrations. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/09/myanmar.referendum.ap/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

April 10, 2008 at 1:57 am

World Focus on Burma (10 Apr 08)

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Olympic torch leaves San Francisco after pro-Tibet protests
RIA Novosti, Russia –
I’ve talked about Burma [Myanmar]. I’ve talked about the Dalai Lama. I don’t need the Olympics to express my position.” The interview with Bush was recorded …
Chapel Hill police probe robberies
News & Observer, NC –
In the Abbey Court case, Booker said the victim was a member of the Karen community, refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma), that has been resettled in …
Myanmar fixes referendum date
Aljazeera.net, Qatar –
Myanmar’s military government has announced it will hold its constitutional referendum on May 10 and made some copies of the charter available to the public …
Burma’s military issues warning before poll
Radio Australia, Australia –
Burma’s military government has warned foreign embassies not to support the opposition National League for Democracy as the nation gears up for a referendum …
A list of better choices for Commencement speaker
Student Life, MO –
1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner for working to bring democracy to Myanmar/Burma (timely!), given Congressional Medal of Honor last year I am not posting spam.
Myanmar warns against foreign interference in internal affairs
Xinhua, China –
YANGON, April 10 (Xinhua) — The Myanmar authorities have warned through official media against interference in its internal affairs by some foreign …
Referendum to be held on 10 May
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Apr 10, 2008 (DVB)–The Burmese government’s Commission for Holding Referendum has announced that the national referendum on the draft constitution will be …
Tchad/ RCA : Stake out de l’ambassadeur Jean-Maurice Ripert,
Organisation de la Presse Africaine (Communiqués de presse), Switzerland –
When do you think you could get a second PRST on Burma? We are working on it. It is not easy: there are some differences of views among the member state in …
Torching the Olympics
Salon –
While the United States has economic sanctions against Burma, also known as Myanmar, China gives the country economic, military and diplomatic support.
Myanmar sets constitutional referendum for May 10: junta
China Post, Taiwan –
One version of the former Burma’s new charter was leaked recently with four key words omitted that had analysts wondering whether if was a typographical …
US envoy to ASEAN vows to push for reforms in Myanmar
AFP –
Burma is Myanmar’s previous name. Myanmar faces mounting pressure for democratic reform after its crackdown on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks last …
Myanmar referendum on May 10 Merinews, India – The Myanmar junta has declared May 10 as the date for its referendum on the new constitution. It has begun hectic preparations and begun coercing people for …
Bush Urges China’s Leaders to Meet With Dalai Lama Voice of America – President Bush and the Senior Minister of Singapore discussed military rule in Burma, also known as Myanmar, where a controversial draft constitution will …
Bush condemns Myanmar after meeting with Singapore minister International Herald Tribune, France – Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. Goh said, “The army has to be part of the solution. Without the army playing a part …
Myanmar sets constitutional referendum for May 10 AFP – YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s military government Wednesday set May 10 as the date for a referendum on a new constitution, which pro-democracy activists have …
Remarks by President Bush and Senior Minister Goh of Singapore in … Business Wire (press release), CA – We spent time on Burma and the need for the military regime there to understand that they shouldn’t fear the voices of people. And yet they do. …
Olympic torch relay on truncated route through San Francisco away … CBC.ca, Canada – The torchbearers competed not only with people protesting China’s grip on Tibet, but its support for the governments of Myanmar and Sudan. …
Torch demos force West to push China on Tibet Kuwait Times, Kuwait – … much because once the Olympics are over, the issue of Tibet will go on the backburner as much as Burma,” he said, using the former name for Myanmar. …
Myanmar constitution referendum set for May 10 JURIST – [JURIST] Myanmar’s 45-member Referendum Holding Commission has scheduled a planned national constitutional referendum [JURIST reports] for May 10, …
Junket time: Solons flying to South Africa Inquirer.net, Philippines – Pimentel said the meeting of the IPU human rights committee would tackle, among others, the government crackdown in Burma (Myanmar), the killings in Sri …
Bush Reiterates Appeal for China-Dalai Lama Talks AHN – The President and the Singaporean minister also discussed the political situation in Myanmar, formerly Burma, and the need for the military regime to allow …
Burma sets constitutional referendum for May 10 Brisbane Times, Australia – RANGOON – Burma’s military rulers announced on state television late today they would hold a referendum on their proposed constitution on May 10 which they …
Myanmar unveils draft statute Hindu, India – SINGAPORE: Myanmar’s military rulers on Wednesday unveiled a draft Constitution, prompting pro-democracy activists to call for its outright rejection. …
Olympic torch protests: The latest developments Santa Rosa Press Democrat, CA – … Burmese monk from Fremont and a dozen Burmese nationals walked across the bridge into San Francisco to protest China action in Myanmar, formerly Burma. …
UPI NewsTrack TopNews United Press International – The two also discussed Myanmar, formerly Burma, “and the need for the military regime there to understand that they shouldn’t fear the voices of people,” …
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The Olympic Protest: Richard Gere Critical Of China
kcratv
google news commentComment by Allyn Brooks-LaSure Director of Media Relations, Save Darfur Coalition

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

April 10, 2008 at 1:33 am