British PM Stops Deportation of Burmese Asylum Seeker
By Tendai Maphosa
22 November 2007
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has personally intervened in the case of an opponent of the Burmese military government who faced deportation from Britain. Tendai Maphosa looks at whether other Burmese asylum seekers are going to benefit from the case.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered a review of Lay Naing's case after Damian Green, the opposition Conservative Party spokesman for immigration, confronted him in paliament.
Naing fled Burma last year. He claims he was jailed and beaten by Burmese authorities for distributing literature critical of Burma's military government. His application for asylum and three appeals were rejected on the basis that he did not apply when he arrived in the United Kingdom.
In a letter to Green, Mr. Brown said his government was horrified by reports of ongoing persecution of those who participated in pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year in Burma. He also wrote that Naing would be given humanitarian protection.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Donna Covey expressed the hope that Naing's case represents an acknowledgment from the government that Burma is not safe. She was quoted in the daily newspaper the Independent as saying she hoped those who have sought sanctuary in the United Kingdom would be protected.
The British government has come under fire from rights organizations for criticizing repressive governments such as the Burmese military regime, but sending back asylum seekers.
Ko Aung is a spokesperson for the Burmese Democratic Movement Association U.K., which opposes the Burmese government. He called for the British government to synchronize its policy regarding Burma.
"The U.K. government should change their policy on Burma because the problem is Home Office say different and then also Foreign Office also say different," he said. "So I do not know what is going on, but Burmese people, if they send you back to Burma definitely out there they are facing torture, imprisonment and [they] maybe killed."
A statement by the Border and Immigration Agency said the government would continue to treat applications from Burmese nationals on a case-by-case basis. It said if an applicant demonstrates a need for international protection, asylum shall be granted, should an application be refused, the applicant has the right of appeal.
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