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Htee Yaw, a Myanmar migrant living and working in Chiang Mai, reported that police arrested and detained his 17-year-old brother for several weeks, without allowing any family members access to him, in December 2010.

Htee Yaw went to the police station and pleaded for his release: “They knew he was 17, my brother told them, I told them … He was arrested by the police and put in handcuffs, even though he was young and had committed no crime.”

Htee Yaw said he had to pay a bribe of Bt5,000 (US$167) to secure his brother’s release.

The story is part of a Human Rights Watch report released on September 1. Titled “Two Years With No Moon: Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand”, the report details dozens of cases of children detained on immigration grounds.

The international organisation estimates that at least 2,500 children from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos pass through the Bangkok immigration detention centres each year before being summarily deported. The largest group of refugees living in Thailand is from Myanmar.

As of 2013, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics said that there were 77,913 Myanmar refugees in camps in Thailand, 34,289 of whom were children. The Border Consortium, a non-governmental organisation providing assistance in border camps, estimated that there were 117,000 Myanmar refugees in the 10 camps they work in as of May 2014.

Most fled decades of fighting in Myanmar, and many children were born in Thailand to refugee parents. Some portion of the tens of thousands of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand are, in fact, refugees, but have not been officially recognised as such, in large part because they are precluded from lodging claims with the government or with UNHCR.

Some 92,000 Myanmar refugees were resettled from Thailand to third countries between 2005 and January 2014.

Political changes in Myanmar since 2011, including the signing of preliminary ceasefire agreements between the Myanmar government and most of the armed ethnic groups, have opened the possibility for future voluntary repatriation. However, few ethnic minority group members have opted to return so far.

Registered Myanmar refugees in Thailand face stark decisions. They can remain in one of the refugee camps along the Myanmar border, where they are relatively protected from arrest, but lack freedom to move or work, and are dependent on aid agencies, which have reduced funding since the ceasefires in Myanmar. Or, they can live and work outside the camps (in areas such as in Mae Sot, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, and Bangkok, but typically without legal status of any kind, which makes them subject to exploitation, extortion, arrest and deportation.

All Rohingya at government shelters interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were not permitted to leave the facilities.

Adults and children are also arbitrarily detained in police lock-ups.

Mai M, an ethnic Mon girl from Myanmar without paperwork in Thailand, was arrested on the outskirts of Bangkok around December 2011, when she was 15 years old. She said she was taken to a police station with her mother, uncle, and cousin, and held for 15 days without seeing a judge or going to court before police took her and 30 other migrants to the Myanmar border by truck to be deported.

“While Thailand has made progress in enrolling migrant children in school, there are still significant gaps, leaving some children vulnerable to arrest. “Many families live far in the fields,” said Saw Kweh, a veteran community activist in Mae Sot, “and schools can’t come pick them up. There are costs for going to school and some families can’t afford it.”

Human Rights Watch suggested the Thai government enact legislation and policies to expeditiously end immigration detention of children consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. It also called on Thailand to sign and ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

It noted that while this report was completed prior to the coup, its findings remain relevant. The National Council for Peace and Order has instituted no major policy changes regarding detention of migrant children.

“Thailand’s policy of detaining migrants has remained consistent across previous governments, including military governments,” it said.

Myanmar student wins Asean arts competition

Posted by pakin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Aye Myat Thandar Aung, the second-year student of the National University of Arts and Culture, is named the first-prize winner of the Asean Youth Competition on Arts and Human Rights held this month in Indonesia.

With her watercolour painting titled “Equality and Peace for Everyone”, the 20-year student beat other pieces belonging to Asean youth from other seven countries aged 18 to 25 years old.

At the award presentation ceremony held in Jakarta on Monday, she took home the US$2,000 prize money. She is not yet available for an interview.

“We held an art contest within our university first before entering the competition,” said Thit Lwin Soe, head of department of the National University of Arts and Culture (Yangon).

A panel of judges comprising officials from Myanmar Traditional Arts and Artisans Organisation, teachers from the National University of Arts and Culture, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected Aye Myat Thandar Aung’s painting titled “Equality and Peace for Everyone” for the Asean Youth Competition. This was the first time Myanmar participated in the competition.

“After we voted on the best piece, we submitted it through the Asean Committee for Culture and Information for Myanmar this month,” added Thit Lwin Soe.

Students from the National University of Arts and Culture have also won the first place in a youth art competition held in Turkey in 2012.

Youth in eight Asean countries submitted their artworks for the regional competition.

The “ASEAN Youth Competition on Arts and Human Rights” was organised by the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), to raise awareness about human rights and the Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) among youths and encourage their participation in raising awareness on the promotion and protection of human rights.

The competition was held in two rounds – the first at the national level and the second at the regional level. The winner at the national level receives a cash prize of $450. The overall regional winner is entitled to $2,000.

The artworks must represent the AHRD and explain the human rights values contained within the artwork through a short narrative. The A2-sized pieces can be completed with water colours, acrylic paints, crayons or colour pencils. Importantly, they must be an original work, never submitted or published before.

Winners at the national level

Indonesia – Danang Adi Wiratama, 19

Lao PDR – Souchinada Kieoaphone, 24

Malaysia – Nur Fatin binti Kamarudin, 18

Myanmar – Aye Myat Thandar AUNG, 20

Philippines – Manuel Kristoffer M. Kang, 25

Singapore – Khairul Azri Bin Uthli, 19

Thailand – Subannakrit Krikum

Vietnam – Tran Anh Cuong, 18

Cambodian protesters hold a national flag during a protest at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday.

Cambodian and Khmer-Krom people are calling for an apology by the first counselor of the Vietnamese Embassy for remarks he made, saying that the former Cambodian provinces of Khmer Kampuchea Krom, now a part of Vietnam, was a part of Vietnam before France officialy ceded them in 1949. The protesters alleged that millions of ethnic Khmer Krom are facing human rights abuses in Vietnam.

Khieu Samphan: ex-Khmer Rouge head of state

Posted by pakin On August - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan was one of the brutal Cambodian regime’s few diplomats to have contact with the outside world.

The French-educated radical denied playing a prominent role in a regime which oversaw the deaths of up to two million people in the late 1970s, saying he was kept out of leader Pol Pot’s inner circle.

During his historic trial at Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes court, he accused the prosecution of telling “fairytales” and insisted he was not part of the regime’s killing machine.

“The reality was that I did not have any power and I did not care about it either,” he said. He and his fellow defendant, Nuon Chea were accused by prosecutors of “spilling blood for power”.

Like most Khmer Rouge leaders at the height of the regime’s power, Khieu Samphan was a shadowy figure, his identity cloaked by the secrecy of the movement’s inner circles.

But, as the Khmer Rouge struggled for power in the civil war that followed their 1979 ouster, he became the public face of the movement as it sought, and was to some extent granted, international credibility.

In the 1980s he held positions as prime minister of the communist government-in-exile and president of the party.

He was promoted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc and other countries as a moderate voice of the regime.

A key player in peace talks in the early 1990s, Khieu Samphan remained the Khmer Rouge’s most visible public figure until defecting from the then-dying movement in 1998 with “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea.

– Highly-educated –

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Born in 1931 in Cambodia’s southeastern Svay Rieng province, Khieu Samphan was highly-educated, graduating from high school and university in France.

The title of his doctoral dissertation, “Cambodia’s economy and industrial development”, offered a hint of the radical agrarian revolution that was to come.

He returned to join Cambodia’s economic and social renaissance of the 1960s as an academic and journalist.

In the confused politics of the time, he was both condemned and elevated by the country’s mercurial leader, then-prince Norodom Sihanouk.

As editor of a leftist newspaper at odds with the government, Khieu Samphan was beaten in the streets of the capital Phnom Penh and imprisoned in 1960 after Sihanouk branded him an “oppositionist”.

But he was later elected to parliament and served as Sihanouk’s commerce minister in 1962-63.

He fled to the jungle in 1967 after again becoming a target for his left-leaning politics, joining up with Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge eventually seized the country in 1975 and during the regime years Khieu Samphan was appointed head of state as well as to more powerful positions within the party and government.

It was in these roles that genocide researchers say he would have surely been aware of what was happening as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century unfolded.

Evidence indicates he “personally contributed to those crimes by making public statements supporting the underlying policies”, researchers Stephen Heder and Brian Tittemore write in their book “Seven Candidates for Prosecution”.

“He publicly endorsed taking measures against the enemies of the revolution in a way that suggests knowledge and support of the policy of executing purported enemy agents.”

He was arrested in November 2007 on charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

During his trial, Khieu Samphan expressed a “sincere apology” but said that he was not aware at the time of the “great suffering” of the Cambodian people.

“I was not aware of the heinous acts committed by other leaders that caused tragedy for the nation and people,” he said.

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