Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two Singaporeans defending Burmese workers arrested

by Nem Davies
Monday, 12 January 2009 20:34

New Delhi (Mizzima) -Two Singaporean activists were arrested after staging a protest on Monday against the government's rejection of the extension of work permits to Burmese nationals.

Seelan Palay and Chong Kai Xiong, who were demonstrating outside the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) office in Singapore, to highlight the plight of Burmese workers, were arrested around 1:00 pm by the Singapore Police.

"Both (activists) held placards of, 'Stop new treatment of Burmese activists'," Ho Choon Hiong, an independent documentary filmmaker, who witnessed the event, told Mizzima over the telephone.

The duo, wearing red T-shirts, distributed leaflets and flyers during the demonstration.

He said, the two demonstrators marched to the MOM office in order to talk to the officials on the plight of the Burmese workers.

"What I understand from these activists is, Singapore turned down the renewal of work permits to those who took part in the Burmese opposition movements," he added.

The Burmese in Singapore, occasionally held demonstrations against the Burmese Embassy in the country, to show their solidarity with the people of Burma. Several activities including demonstrations were held in May, over the junta's referendum polling and in the aftermath of the killer Cyclone Nargis.

Recently, sources said, two Burmese persons - Moe Kyaw Thu and Win Kyaw - who had actively participated in demonstrations, were turned down when their work permits came up for renewal, on the basis of a police record.

Both have reportedly stayed in Singapore for over 10 years and their permits are due to expire in the end of January, 2009.

"My stay permit will expire on Jan 27 and I have to leave Singapore before it expires," Moe Kyaw Thu, who has appealed four times to the Singaporean authorities to renew his work permit, told Mizzima.

"I sent my last appeal letter this morning to both the Singapore Prime Minister and President and requested them to consider renewing my permit on humanitarian grounds," Moe Kyaw Thu added.

According to Burmese workers in Singapore, the city-state hosts more than 60,000 Burmese, who fill up as general workers, technical skilled labourers and some as students.

The Singapore government in 2008, has rejected at least five people, who have police records of being involved in demonstrations against the Burmese military junta, from renewing their permits.

Via Mizzima. (Thanks, Richard Streitmatter-Tran!)

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