Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Burmese Protests Not Allowed in Singapore

The Irrawaddy News

Myo Tun, one of three Burmese activists who took part in political activities in Singapore, says “Now I have no future.” He is among three activists who were ordered to leave Singapore for demonstrating against the junta.

On August 2, the Singapore government declined to renew visas permits or extensions for Myo Tun and two other Burmese activists for participating in public protests illegally.

Public demonstrations are not allowed in Singapore without a police permit.

In addition to Myo Tun, Soe Thiha and Hlaing Moe were also forced to leave the country. Myo Tun had resided in Singapore for nine years.

The activists were part of a larger group of people who demonstrated against the Burmese junta in November 2007 during the Asean Summit meeting in Singapore.

“I didn’t break any of Singapore’s criminal laws,” Myo Tun said. “The Singapore government’s treatment of us was unjustified.”

Myo Tun, 38, was jailed three times in Burma as a political prisoner following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. “It is apparent the Singapore authorities wanted to punish Burmese activists for working for democracy in Burma,” he said.

Burmese activists who are long-time residents of Singapore stepped up their pro-democracy activities following the September 2007 uprising.

In April and May of this year, activists staged demonstrations in front of the Burmese embassy in Singapore against the new constitution.

Hlaing Moe, a part-time student who is now living in Malaysia, said Burmese activists did not commit any crimes against Singaporean law.

“The Singapore Immigration and Checkpoint Authorities didn’t give any reason or explanation for rejecting the renewals or extensions of our visas and permits,” he said.

Kyaw Soe, a member of the Overseas Burmese Patriots (OBP), a group of about 50 Burmese activists, said nine other activists, all permanent residents of Singapore, who participated in public protests in November are not sure their future.

“The Singapore government forced me to leave Singapore as quickly as possible,” Kyaw Soe told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Meanwhile, The Strait Times newspaper reported on Saturday that Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs has warned Burmese political activists not to ignore repeated police orders to stop illegal public protests and anti-Burma activities.

A ministry spokesperson said that the right of a foreign national to work or stay in Singapore is not a matter of entitlement or a right to be secured by political demand and public pressure, and the activists repeatedly ignored requests from government officials to meet to discuss the group's conduct, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson singled out the OBP which he said “has chosen to [conduct demonstrations] in open and in persistent defiance of our laws.”

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