THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

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Myanmar will be ready to take back refugees soon, source claims

Published July 19, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Myanmar-will-be-ready-to-take-back-refugees-soon-s-30288668.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

MYANMAR will soon be ready to take back over 100,000 refugees from nine shelters in Thailand, as the country moves towards democracy, an informed source claimed yesterday.

Details were revealed during the launch of a “World Refugee Day” event at Ban Umpiem Mai shelter in Phop Phra district in Tak province, which currently houses about 20,000 refugees.

Shutaro Omura, the political affairs representative at the Japanese Embassy in Thailand, presided over the launch, which was also witnessed by Phop Phra district chief Prasong La-on and local Thai officials, plus representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and staff from non-government groups.

The source said a team from UNHCR had earlier visited the city of Hpa-An in Myanmar to negotiate with authorities there for repatriation of the refugees.

However, the head of The Border Consortium (TBC), the group that funds food and support for the border camps, said yesterday it was unlikely that refugees in camps in Thailand were about to be repatriated to Myanmar.

TBC executive director Sally Thompson said: “Our understanding is that no policy on refugee return has been outlined by the NLD [government] as yet.

“To date, the message from all sides is the [new] Myanmar government has said it’s not yet ready for refugee return. And Thailand has said they’re waiting for the Myanmar government to say they’re ready.

Close watch on Panglong II talks

“Refugee return is not a priority issue in Myanmar at present,” Thompson said.

The NLD government, headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, is said to be focused on a major meeting between the government, military and ethnic groups at Panglong II forum- to try to thrash out big issues such as demilitarisation and political |participation that could lead to a more meaningful peace agreement than the deal brokered with eight ethnic groups by the Thein Sein government just prior to the election late last year.

Panglong II refers to the ambition of many ethnic groups to reconvene the Panglong conference held in the Shan State township in 1947 between some ethnic groups and national hero General Aung San to talk about their |political future after Myanmar became independent.

The outcome of those talks will be closely watched by Myanmar people both in and outside the country. If there is significant progress toward peace in various areas, a policy on refugee repatriation of the 100,000-plus refugees on the Thai border may then be considered, many sources have said.

Suu Kyi is due to visit Tham Hin camp in Ratchaburi on Saturday morning, as part of her three-day visit to Thailand, which starts on Thursday.

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Rousing welcome for ‘Amay Suu’

Published June 28, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Rousing-welcome-for-Amay-Suu-30288969.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Migrant Myanmar workers in Mahachai petition visiting minister to improve their working conditions.

MYANMAR State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday spent the first of her three-day visit to Thailand visiting migrant workers, who gave her a thunderous welcome as well as complaints and demands to improve their living and working conditions in the Kingdom.

Speaking to some of the workers, Suu Kyi said, “Myanmar people are like guests in Thailand, so we should speak to the hosts honestly. It’s normal that problems will occur, so we should cooperate to successfully solve them together.”

Thousands of workers stood in heavy rain to give her motorcade a warm welcome as it headed to and from the little Myanmar town in Samut Sakhon’s Mahachai sub-district.

The workers had come from many places – from different parts of Bangkok to provinces in the North – to wait at Talad Thalay Thai from the break of dawn so they could catch sight of “Amay Suu” or “mother Suu”. The Myanmar leader arrived at 4.30pm and spent about an hour with them.

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Nearly a thousand security officials were stationed at the seafood market to provide security for the Nobel laureate. The atmosphere yesterday was formal, far more so than in 2012, when she visited Thailand as a democracy icon instead of as an official representative of the Myanmar government.

Things did get a bit chaotic, when many of the workers fought to gain access to the meeting hall to speak to their leader. Suu Kyi also said she was disappointed that she could not meet more of her countrymen.

Many workers had come armed with their active passports or temporary work permits, or “pink cards”, hoping that these documents would allow them to meet the state counsellor. However, they were disappointed when they were told that a fixed quota had been set for the number of people who could meet Suu Kyi.

Some officers later relented and allowed many of the workers to enter the market’s compound, though they still had no chance to enter the hall and speak to her.

The Thailand-based Myanmar Born Gurkha Youth Association had come all the way from Chiang Mai to file a petition on migrant workers’ rights, education opportunities, healthcare and protection from injuries in workplaces

“I just want to call on Mother Suu to develop Myanmar. I trust her. It would be great to live with my family again,” U Than, a member of the association who works for a logistics company, said. “I can’t go home right now because I have to stay here to make money.”

Aung Ko, 26, is another migrant worker who appears to be quite happy living in Thailand.

“I’ve worked at a shrimp factory for six years now and am okay with that. I get paid Bt12,000 a month, and though they don’t have overtime work for now, it is still a decent wage,” he said.

However, Aung Ko pointed out that his factory wanted Myanmar employees to stick with the pink cards instead of getting their passports renewed. “With the pink cards we are limited to staying with one employer, though we also don’t need to go to Myanmar to renew our passports,” he said.

Meanwhile, inside the meeting hall, Suu Kyi pledged to issue a certificate of identity to migrant workers in a bid to ensure their well-being in the Kingdom.

This certificate could be on par with the temporary passport that allows Myanmar workers to live in Thailand legally as well as lets them move about freely, she said.

Suu Kyi asked her accompanying Labour, Immigration and Population Minister Thein Swe to take steps to ease the passport issuing process so that Myanmar people will no longer need to deal with middlemen who may charge them exorbitant amounts. Thein Swe assured that two labour agreements, to be signed today with Thai Labour Minister General Sirichai Dithakul, will cover protection and welfare of Myanmar workers.

The Migrant Worker Rights Network yesterday issued a statement addressed to Suu Kyi to raise concerns about the well-being of migrant workers in Thailand and also offered some recommendations for the Thai government to adjust its policies.

One of the recommendations was for the authorities to ensure the rule of law, so corruption can be prevented and moves can be made to comply with basic human and labour rights as well as social-protection laws.

 

Suu Kyi faces tough Rohingya challenge

Published June 28, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Suu-Kyi-faces-tough-Rohingya-challenge-30288867.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Suu Kyi // File Photo

Suu Kyi // File Photo

MYANMAR State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will face the tough issue of Rohingya refugees when she lands today in Bangkok for her first official visit to strengthen ties with Thailand.

While many observers look at her as the leader of the first civilian and elected government in half a century in contrast to her Thai counterparts in the military government, Suu Kyi, also foreign minister, chose to pay more attention to the fate of Myanmar citizens in Thailand.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that Suu Kyi‘s visit to Thailand was as a guest of the Thai government, not as a democratic icon.

“Previously [in 2012], she visited as a democratic leader, but today she is a representative of Myanmar’s government,” he told reporters.

The visit, which ends on Saturday, will highlight Myanmar migrants and refugees to illustrate the good governance of the new civilian government, said Dulyapak Preecharush, a Thammasat University expert on Southeast Asia.

Bringing with her ministers including the labour minister, as her position is equivalent to a prime minister in her country, would mean solving plenty of leftover problems regarding migrant workers with her Thai counterparts, he said.

The Myanmar delegation will sign pacts of cooperation covering migrant workers, employment and border crossings to improve the working conditions and living standards of millions of Myanmar workers in Thailand.

Suu Kyi’s government took the issue of migrant workers as a national priority and put it into the context of relations with Thailand, Dulyapak said.

More than 1.4 million migrants from Myanmar legally live and work in Thailand, but it is estimated that millions more are illegal and receive poor treatment at the hands of employers and Thai authorities.

Suu Kyi will visit thousands of Myanmar workers in the seafood centre of Mahachai today to show she cares for them as well as to inform them about the latest developments at home after her government assumed office in April. She had gone there once in 2012 when she was in the country for the World Economic Forum.

However, the urgent issue for Suu Kyi is the plight of the hundreds of Rohingya refugees detained in Thailand for illegal entry after taking the dangerous boat trip across the Indian Ocean years ago.

Suu Kyi, who insists on referring to them as “people who believe in Islam” rather than Rohingya, as they wish to be called, is under pressure and there remains no clear solution on how to deal with the Muslim minority at home, Dulyapak said.

A group of social workers in Thailand called upon the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy icon to address the Rohingya issue properly during her visit.

However, authorities forced two groups – the Coalition on the Rights of Refugees, and Stateless Persons and Asylum Access Thailand – to cancel their planned press conference today, citing security reasons. The press conference was aimed at drawing Suu Kyi‘s attention to the plight of the Rohingya.

This visit is a great opportunity for people from Myanmar to draw to Suu Kyi‘s attention the struggle of the Rohingya, who have for generations considered Myanmar as their homeland, the group said. Access to Myanmar nationality and basic rights have been denied to them, they added.

For decades, thousands of Rohingya have been forced to flee their homeland to become workers or victims of human trafficking in neighbouring countries including Thailand, they said.

A government official said the Rohingya issue would not be on the table during the meeting betweenSuu Kyi and Prayut.

A plan for her to visit refugees in Ratchaburi’s Ban Tham Hin on Saturday was cancelled due to bad weather, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee.

Thousands of Rohingya fled from difficulties in the western state of Rakhine after poor treatment and communal conflict with majority Buddhists.

Their journey ended up in prison as illegal migrants in many countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand.

PM to discuss return of refugees with Suu Kyi

Published June 28, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/PM-to-discuss-return-of-refugees-with-Suu-Kyi-30288779.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Myanmar state counsellor expected to raise issue but ‘Rohing ya’ not on agenda

THE REPATRIATION of more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees who have been sheltered in border provinces for decades will be discussed when Aung San Suu Kyi meets Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday.

Suu Kyi, who is both state counsellor and foreign minister, will arrive in Bangkok on Thursday to strengthen bilateral ties with her Thai counterparts and discuss a wide range of issues including migrant workers and refugees.

According to deputy government spokesperson Maj-General Werachon Sukondhapatipak, Thailand has always been eager to return refugees back to Myanmar, but has been faced with legal and technical restraints.

The idea of repatriating refugees who fled civil war and political conflict since the mid-1980s has existed among Thai security |agencies for a long time, but little could be done due to the ongoing fighting and political problems in Myanmar.

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The previous government led by Thein Sein had a clear policy to take them back, but only after peace could be maintained. Thein Sein’s administration managed to sign a ceasefire pact eight armed ethnic groups, but many remained outside the peace process and armed struggles have continued.

The new government, which took power in April after winning the November elections, has yet to come up with a policy on the fate of Myanmar refugees in Thailand.

Obstacles to repatriation

On the Thai side, meanwhile, Werachon said the nationality proving procedure and endorsement of identity documents were the key obstacles in repatriating Myanmar refugees.

However, he said, Suu Kyi is bound to raise this issue with Prayut as she known for her fight for human rights.

Thailand has sheltered 105,261 refugees in nine camps in four border provinces from Mae Hong Son in the North to Ratchaburi province.

Suu Kyi is scheduled to visit a camp at Ban Tham Hin in Ratchaburi province on Saturday – the last day in her three-day visit.

However, the plight of Rohingya refugees appears unlikely to be raised when Suu Kyi meets Prayut on Friday. Hundreds of Rohingya were detained in Thailand after taking |dangerous trips down the Bay of Bengal from Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.

Most were escaping bad treatment from local authorities and attacks by the majority Buddhist population.

A United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that long-standing violations of Rohingya people’s rights could be considered a crime against humanity.

Prayut, meanwhile, chose to say little when asked if he would discuss the refugee situation, especially that of the Muslim Rohingya |people, with Suu Kyi.

“It’s their [Myanmar’s] domestic and sensitive issue. Don’t bother them much about it,” he said referring to the Rohingya crisis.

The Thai authorities have also been known for its poor treatment and unlawful detention of the Rohingya people.

 

PM pledges role in Myanmar talks

Published June 14, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/PM-pledges-role-in-Myanmar-talks-30287122.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi

THE government will offer to perform a role in Myanmar’s national reconciliation process when the Thai premier meets State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi this month during her official visit to Thailand.

“I have been asked by many to help support the Myanmar government,” Prime Minister PrayutChan-o-cha told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

“And I have to help Myanmar with efforts in national reconciliation. We have to support them in the right way.”

Prayut said that Myanmar commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing also asked him to support the new Myanmar government.

Zaw Htay, spokesman for the Myanmar President’s Office, confirmed that Suu Kyi would visit Thailand late this month for an official introductory visit but declined to give more details about her visit or whether President Htin Kyaw would join her.

However, Prayut said Htin Kyaw would visit Thailand, describing the president as “a good talker and polite like [former president] Thein Sein”.

“When we met at the recent Asean-Russia summit, he didn’t ask me about Thailand’s internal affairs at all,” Prayut said with grin.

“Asean holds a principle of non-interference. If anyone wants to ask about our situation, they have to do it somewhere else.

“Everything that will be continued” will be on the agenda for the meeting, the prime minister said, including Rohingya migrants, whom the Myanmar government refers to as Bengalis.

Myanmar’s national reconciliation process was initiated a month before elections in November, when the Thein Sein government signed a ceasefire agreement with eight armed ethnic groups, although seven other ethnic groups refused to sign the deal.

The new administration has pledged to continue the peacemaking process but hold-out armed ethnic groups have expressed doubts that the civilian government has the power to forge a lasting deal because of the military’s still |powerful grip on security and border affairs.

While Thailand has been riven by political division domestically for many years, Myanmar has repeatedly hosted peace talks between Nay Pyi Taw and armed ethnic groups, however Thai authorities have rarely mentioned the country’s role in public.

Suu Kyi to visit Bangkok next month

Published June 14, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Suu-Kyi-to-visit-Bangkok-next-month-30287055.html

THAI-MYANMAR RELATIONS

Suu Kyi // File Photo

Suu Kyi // File Photo

MYANMAR’S State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Thailand in late June for bilateral talks. The President’s Office spokesman Zaw Htay told the Chiang Mai-based Irrawaddy that the exact date of the visit was still being discussed by the two governments.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai visited Myanmar in early May to extend an invitation from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to President Htin Kyaw and Suu Kyi to visit Thailand. But it is unclear currently if the two Myanmar leaders will visit at the same time. However, Irrawaddy reported that Suu Kyi would visit Bangkok from June 23-25, and Htin Kyaw would come.

Suu Kyi, now the de-facto leader, took office in April after her National League for Democracy won the election last November. The Nobel laureate was last here in 2012.

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