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Last Minute Reprieve Saves NZ Government Red Faces

9 March 2006

Last Minute Reprieve Saves NZ Government Red Faces

Mr Mang Za Khup, a Burmese asylum seeker whose final appeal had failed, was due to be deported back to Burma today. Clayton Cosgrove, the Associate Minister of Immigration, gave him a last minute reprieve. Mang Za Khup has been granted a two-year work permit, and is due to be released from Mt Eden prison later on today.

Mr Mang Za Khup’s situation was similar in many ways to that of Stanley Van Tha, a Burmese citizen who applied for asylum in Switzerland in 2003. His asylum application was rejected, as was his appeal. In April 2004, Stanley Van Tha was escorted back to Rangoon by two Swiss policemen and handed over to the authorities.

He was given a 19-years prison sentence, which he is currently serving in Burma’s notorious Insein prison. The incident was a severe embarrassment to the Swiss Government, which subsequently declared that Switzerland would not send anyone else back to Burma. It was entirely likely that Mr Mang Za Khup would have suffered a similar fate if NZIS had returned him to Burma.

Whilst supporters of Mang Za Khup are elated at the result, they will continue to press the New Zealand government for a consistent line on forced repatriations to Burma. It is hoped that UNHCR will soon include Burma on the list of dangerous countries that currently comprises Iraq, Afghanistan & Somalia.


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