Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Passports for Myanmar’s ex-prisoners still an issue

Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:40 Saw Zin Nyi

Although the Myanmar government is relaxing the rules for citizens’ passport application process, former prisoners and people with criminal records still have to show ex-prisoners documents to apply for travel documents.

Nilar Thein, right, released from Tharyarwaddy Prison, and Ko Ko Gyi, centre, released from Mong Hsat Prison, greet well-wishers in Rangoon in 2012. Photo: Mizzima

“We need to ask for the applicant’s CV forms. If someone has been imprisoned, they need to show their ex-prisoner's document,” said Kyaw Zaya, a police officer from the Myanmar Passport Office.

Nilar Thein from the 88 Generation students’ association said that this act is no longer needed.

“The former prisoners have been freed and their shadow from the past should not continue to follow them. Putting them on a waiting list until they get the documents is just not right anymore,” said Nilar Thein.

Soe Tun from 88 Generation students’ association said that the government is gradually easing and relaxing the rules in granting the passports.

“The former prisoners shouldn’t be treated as criminals after they have paid for what they have done,” Soe Tun continued.

Following a visit to Myanmar by Tomás Ojea Quintana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights last September, he commented: “The government should also take further positive steps, such as providing reparations, the removal of restrictions on applications for passports, and the removal of obstacles to continuing education or regaining professional licenses such as those required in the medical and legal professions,” he said.

State-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar stated on March 18 the need to show clearance of education to apply for a passport has been annulled.
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