March News Summary

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Roots of migration.

  • The International Organization on Migration (IOM) and the Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MOLIP) have launched a project called Twe Let—“Increasing the Developmental Impact of Labour Migration through Strengthened Governance and Partnership.” The project will purportedly seek policy and community level partnerships to increase the developmental role of migration, supporting the country’s development priorities by mainstreaming migration into national and local sectoral development planning.[i]

International Women’s March

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It’s boiling hot on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon in Chiang Mai, but I have chills.

I’m at the International Women’s Day March, where more than 150 people have gathered to march the perimeter of Chiang Mai’s Old City in a demonstration for women’s rights, and it’s a powerful sight. The crowd that has gathered today is comprised of women from all walks of life and allies who’ve shown up to support the movement.

A majority of the marchers don white T-shirts emblazoned with “Women Own the Change,” a slogan repeated in the chants that ring out through the crowd. Leaders cry out, “Who makes the world?” The resounding response is, “Girls, girls!” “Who makes the change?” “Girls, girls!”

January News Summary

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Roots of migration.

  • U Ko Ni, a prominent human rights lawyer and a legal adviser to Myanmar’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was shot and killed at Yangon International airport.[i]
  • Preliminary meetings were held in 15 places inside and outside Shan State to achieve consensus amongst Shan people ahead of the second Union Peace Conference. Ethnic armed groups, political parties, and CSOs are organizing the meetings to collect public opinions and present them at the peace conference for discussion.[ii]
  • The Myanmar government announced that it will set up two major checkpoints in Hsenwi Township, northern Shan State and in Mon State’s Kyaikhto Township on the Chinese and Thai borders as part of its anti-smuggling plan.[iii]
  • The Myanmar government is considering increasing deposits paid by overseas employment agencies by ten times what it is now in order to improve protection of workers abroad. Officials say the extra money will be used to expand an emergency fund that helps workers if they are abandoned by an agency or encounter other problems while abroad.[iv] 
  • The Thai Labour Ministry issued a statement urging migrant workers to have their nationalities verified by their respective countries or risk being deported after their work permits expire this year. The decision follows a recent cabinet resolution to enforce regulations agreed upon in an MoU with neighboring countries that states migrants must be verified by their home countries.[v]
  • The UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific launched a research study on domestic migrant workers in Thailand. The study notes that about 73% of all migrant domestic workers are women, and that the Asia and Pacific region is home to 40 percent of all domestic workers in the world. In Thailand, 250,000 migrant domestic workers are from Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam.[vi]
  • In 2016, nearly 50,000 Cambodians who came to work in Thailand were returned to Cambodia in 1,159 vans through Poipet border gate because of their unauthorized status. Over 16,000 of them were women and more than 4,000 were children.[vii]
  • The Thai government, with support from the European Union, the IOM, and local NGOs are moving forward on a project to provide support to undocumented Myanmar Muslims—most of them Rohingya refugees—by improving access to basic services like education and healthcare in Tak, Ranong, and Phang Nga provinces.[viii]
  • Thailand was home to four million migrants in 2016.[ix]
  • The UN Population Fund estimates that some 4.25 million people born in Myanmar now live abroad. The majority of people from Myanmar living abroad come from border areas such as Mawlamyine in Mon State and Hpa-an in Karen State and most now live in Thailand and Malaysia.[x]  

December News Summary

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December News Summary

 

Roots of migration.

  • The UN reports that as many as 15,000 people have fled across Myanmar’s border into China in the past month as fighting between the army and armed ethnic groups in Kachin and Shan States intensifies. The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have been internally displaced by fighting between government soldiers and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and the northern part of Shan State.[i]
  • UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, was restricted from visiting areas of conflict-torn Kachin State on Monday, according to her spokesperson. Yanghee Lee did not receive cooperation from the Kachin State government.[ii]
  • A UK-based NGO called Burma Campaign UK published a paper arguing that the international community has yet to develop a strategy for effectively promoting human rights under the new political structure in Myanmar, where both the military and the National League for Democracy are failing to respect human rights.[iii]
  • The UN has strongly criticized the Myanmar government over its treatment of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, where 65,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh—a third of them in the first week of January—since the army launched a crackdown in the north of Rakhine state [iv]
  • China’s Defense Ministry issued a statement urging Myanmar to strengthen its border management in an effort to protect Chinese border residents from conflict in the region.[v]
  • Singapore was Myanmar’s largest foreign investor in fiscal year 2016-2017. In the same period, the telecom sector made up the near majority of Myanmar’s foreign investments—at 47.07 percent of the country’s total foreign investment (124.6 billion Thai Baht). The telecom sector was followed by the industry sector, with 25.5 percent, and the rest went to power, hotel and construction sectors.[vi]
  • Myanmar’s Kanbawza Bank (KBZ) is teaming up with Thailand’s Kasikron Bank to develop a mobile banking remittance service for Myanmar migrants in Thailand.[vii]
  • Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a landslide hit a remote jade mining region in Kachin State. The landslide occurred December 30, and in 2015 alone, more than 300 people were killed in 38 landslides at jade mines in Kachin.[viii]
  • Myanmar police have presented six demands to their Thai counterparts, calling for a crackdown on corrupt and abusive Thai officials who demand money from and illegally confiscate the documents of Myanmar workers in northern Thailand. Despite a request from Myanmar to stop seizing national identity cards from Myanmar migrants, some Thai officials reportedly continue to do so.[ix]
  • International employment agencies sent 93,645 Myanmar workers to Thailand from January to November of this year. In November alone, 13,382 Myanmar migrant workers went to Thailand.[x]

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