Refugees


Australian officials on Friday refused to deny allegations that authorities paid crew on a people-smuggling boat US$30,000 to return 65 asylum-seekers to Indonesia, while insisting that no laws had been broken.
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Set up five years ago, Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) was part of a charm offensive mounted by President U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government that succeeded in attracting international publicity and funding. Any legitimacy it may have held has taken a battering since.
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Thailand, which faces possible trade sanctions over abuses in its seafood industry, says it has accelerated its fight against human trafficking and unregulated fishing.
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Thai authorities have rescued nearly 30 Myanmar victims from alleged human traffickers’ hands in Phuket province.
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Myanmar migrants were among the 39 people who drowned in the Mediterranean on January 30, according to Turkish state media.
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More than 30 Burmese human trafficking victims were rescued from confinement in a fishing port in Thailand’s Phuket Province on Thursday with the assistance of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of Thailand, the Myanmar Association in Thailand (MAT) has confirmed.
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At just 10 years old, Mizba Ahmed and her family fled persecution in Myanmar.

Boarding a smuggler’s boat bound for Australia, she never imagined that instead of finding a better life, she’d end up spending 18 months in detention on the isolated Pacific island of Nauru.
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Fourteen Burmese fishermen rescued from Indonesia’s Ambon Island were returned to Rangoon on Tuesday, state-run media reported.
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The death sentences handed down to two migrant workers from Burma by a Thai court on Christmas Eve ignited widespread condemnation in Burma. Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 22, were convicted of the murder of British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge on the Thai resort island of Koh Tao in September 2014. The police investigation and proceedings were widely criticized for serious shortcomings, including allegations of police torture to extract initial confessions which the Thai authorities refused to investigate seriously.  Forensic experts from Thailand and Australia have raised serious questions about DNA evidence linked to the rape of Witheridge, on which the prosecution heavily relied. Defense lawyers have said they will appeal the decision. (more…)

How much should you sacrifice to save your husband’s life?

And how much hardship do you inflict on your son to rescue your husband?
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The Indonesian government has repatriated 23 Myanmar citizens who were enslaved as crew on a Thai-owned fishing vessel, after the victims had settled their cases with fishing companies, the Jakarta Post reported on 12 January.
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Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Silver Spring, Maryland

Well, let me just say what a special experience it is for me to come to the refugee center. The refugees I met with come from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Burma, Eritrea, Congo, various countries. And they have escaped great violence. They’ve escaped a threat to their lives and their families. And they have come here looking for the possibility of a new life. Everybody has said that – they need and want a new life.
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Last year’s crackdown on the trafficking of Rohingya refugees from Burma (Myanmar), and the subsequent discovery of mass graves at human trafficking camps hidden among the jungles of Southern Thailand led to the arrest of 91 individuals who are now standing trial in Bangkok.
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Soon the world will witness a remarkable sight: a beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner presiding over 21st-century concentration camps.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the world’s genuine heroes, won democracy for her country, culminating in historic elections in November that her party won in a landslide. As winner, Aung San Suu Kyi is also inheriting the worst ethnic cleansing you’ve never heard of, Myanmar’s destruction of a Muslim minority called the Rohingya.
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On Tuesday, Burma’s lame duck government led by President Thein Sein and backed by the country’s military is holding a national conference ostensibly to foster peace. The dialogue will bring together the Burmese military and the representatives of the eight ethnic armed groups that agreed to the partial ceasefire agreement in October.
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The number of migrants leaving Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat in the past four months has plummeted because of Thai and Bangladeshi crackdowns on human smugglers, the United Nations and a rights activist said on Friday.
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Driven out by poverty, unemployment and hopelessness, almost three-quarters of young men in some Rakhine State townships have left to find work elsewhere. Though many make for Kachin State or Yangon, others spend a small fortune on brokers’ fees to work illegally in Thailand or Malaysia, local residents say.
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A Myanmar teenager and two of his compariots pleaded not guilty at a magistrate’s court here to hiding a body wrapped in blood-stained cloth in some bushes.
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A displaced man in Hai Pa Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) Camp hanged himself on Saturday 19 December according to a local aid worker in Mong Hsu Township.
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A teenage boy, 17 from Mae La camp committed suicide on December 22 at his house in Zone A-2, it was the second suicide case in a month.
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