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Burmese refugees appeal to prevent deportation

United Democratic Burmese Community (New Zealand)

www.udbcnz.org.nz

Burmese refugees appeal to prevent deportation

New Zealand’s Burmese refugees are appealing to the Government not to deport a local community leader to what they say would be certain jail in Burma.

The man, Mang Za Khup, is from the minority Chin ethnic group which has been fighting for democracy against the Burmese military regime since the 1960s.

He is due to be deported to Burma tomorrow (Thursday 9 March), via Kuala Lumpur and China, unless Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove grants an appeal lodged last month.

The United Democratic Burmese Community (New Zealand), representing about 330 refugees from Burma who have been accepted under New Zealand’s annual refugee quota since 2000, will hold a vigil from 10am today (Wednesday 8 March) outside the Manukau District Court, where Mang Za Khup is due to appear.

Mr Khup, a young unmarried Christian, came to New Zealand to attend Bible College three years ago. He applied for refugee status because his brother is an active fighter for the Chin people in the border area of Burma and India, and he feared that he himself would be imprisoned and possibly tortured if he returned.

In his time in New Zealand, Mr Khup has become a member of the central committee of the United Democratic Burmese Community and appears on its website, www.udbcnz.org.nz. He is well known in the local refugee community and his activities are likely to have been reported by local agents to the military regime.

Ironically, a new intake of about 125 refugees from Burma, including about 70 Chin from a refugee camp in Malaysia, is due to be welcomed at the Mangere refugee camp next week under New Zealand’s United Nations refugee quota.

UDBC (NZ) president Aung Htay Nyan appealed in an email last night to Prime Minister Helen Clark to stop the deportation of one Chin leader just as she welcomed the new intake.

“Applying for refugee status, as Mang Za Khup has done, is a criminal offence in Burma,” he said.

He said the Burmese refugees were grateful to Helen Clark for speaking out in support of democracy in Burma at two recent ASEAN meetings. He urged her, in the name of their common humanity, to give refuge in New Zealand to Mang Za Khup.

ENDS

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