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Re: Deportation Of Burmese Democracy Activist

OPEN LETTER

My ref: MZK/TE/cf/02

8 March 2006

The Honourable Clayton Cosgrove
Associate Minister of Immigration
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Cc:
Hon. Helen Clark, Prime Minister
Hon. David Cunliffe, Minister of Immigration.
Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Defence and Trade.
NZ Parliamentarians for a Democratic Burma: Ann Hartley (convenor); Tim Barnett; Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Keith Lock: Dr Wayne Mapp: Lynne Pillay: Maryan Street; Pansy Wong

Dear Minister,

Mr Mang Za Khup

I am writing as a matter of the utmost urgency to request that you intervene today to prevent the deportation of Mr Mang Za Khup, a Burmese national of Chin ethnicity. He was recently transferred to Papakura Police Station where he awaits imminent deportation unless you overturn the order.

Mang Za Khup is a well-known pro-democracy activist. If you decide to deport him back to Burma, you will be doing so in the full knowledge of the dire consequences of such an action. I have gone to great lengths to make UNHCR’s Country of Origin Information (COI) available to you. This COI, sent to you by UNHCR Canberra in November 2005 [SEE BELOW], clearly states the harsh treatment received by deportees from other countries on their forced repatriation to Burma.

In recent years, the New Zealand government has been very supportive of the Burmese pro-democracy movement. Today you are presented with an opportunity to show your commitment to this righteous cause by cancelling Mang Za Khup’s deportation order.


Yours faithfully,

Terry Evans

20 Grey Street, Martinborough, Wairarapa 5954
Telephone: 06 306 8823; E-mail: evona@ihug.co.nz

An extract from a UNHCR statement sent to Clayton Cosgrove in November 2005, as mentioned in above letter.

"It is well documented that the prevailing human rights situation in Myanmar is extremely poor. In the context of return to Myanmar, it must be assumed that individuals will be subject to government scrutiny upon arrival. Persons with a political profile are reasonably likely to be subject to disproportionate punishment, and so the question of whether of not an individual has such a profile must be carefully evaluated as part of the refugee status determination process.

Even if an individual does not in fact have a political profile, it is reasonable to believe that any person whom the Myanmar Government suspects to have applied for refugee status abroad, and who has the profile of someone who may harbor a political opinion, risks being charged under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act upon his or her return to Myanmar, and subjected to disproportionate punishment. For example, while a rejected asylum-seeker (such as a manual laborer) who has been found to be an economic migrant and is unlikely to have been politically active would probably be questioned by the government upon return to Myanmar and later released, someone who has not been politically active but has the profile of an individual who could have been active (such as an intellectual or a student) risks being charged and disproportionately punished under the Act.

UNHCR's capacity to monitor returnees to Myanmar is extremely limited. Nonetheless, UNHCR is aware that detention of returnees does occur. A case of particular note is that of a person returned by the Swiss Government accompanied by officials from that country, who was reportedly sentenced to 19 years imprisonment for 'crimes' including leaving Myanmar illegally, 'bringing his country into disrepute" by applying for asylum in Switzerland, and re-entering Myanmar illegally.

The safety upon return of the individual concerned should be ascertained prior to a removal arrangement. The utmost care should be taken to avoid raising his individual profile in the eyes of the Myanmar authorities, as this may have the effect of exposing him or her to a risk of the disproportionate punishment discussed above."

ENDS

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