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Immediate Action Call


Please take a moment to (1) read this important message (if you haven't
already done so) about Ko Mya Wai, a democracy activist Japan is about to
repatriate, and (2) write to the Japanese authorities urging them NOT to
deport him.  Japan is very conscious about its international image, so
pressure from abroad can make a big difference not only for Ko Mya Wai but
also the rest of us who have applied for refugee status here.

Thank you for your support in this critical hour.

On behalf of (Joint Action Committee-Japan.)

Tin Kyi ( General Secretary )
Burma Youth Volunteer Association-Japan

1. Introduction
This is a report on an pro-democracy activist in Japan, Mya Wai, who was
denied refugee status by the Ministry of Justice of Japan 
on 13 August 1997 on the ground that the application was not filed within
sixty days of his entry into Japan. (There is a provision in
 the Japanese law concerning immigration, so-called "Sixty Days Rule", which
provides that an asylum seeker must apply for refugee 
status within sixty days of his entry in Japan, or within sixty days of the
occurrence of fear of persecution. Japan applies this 
rule very strictly, and denies refugee status to the vast majority of the
applications on the ground that the applications were not 
filed within sixty days of the applicant's entry in Japan, regardless of the
applicant's fear of persecution.) Mya Wai was
also denied a special permit (a special residence permit issued by the
Minister of Justice to those who lack any legal status in Japan),
and is currently detained by the Immigration authorities.

Until very recently, Burmese applicants for refugee status were granted
provisional release on the ground that they were applicants
 for refugee status. However, although Mya Wai filed a new application for
refugee status on 21 August, his request for a provisional 
release was denied on 17 September. This is the first such case where a
refugeeapplicant was not granted provisional release. We fear 
that the immigration authorities are changing its policy towards asylum
seekers to an even more restrictive one than before.

2. Mya Wai's activities
Before Mya Wai arrived in Japan, he was arrested and detained four times for
participating in demonstrations and distributing fliers. 

The first time was in 1974 when he was taking part in a demonstration at the
time of former UN Secretary General U Thant's 
memorial service. He was detained for six months. Here he was submitted to a
form of torture where they bound him to a chair, and 
made drops of water fall on his head from a hole in a jug placed about two
meters above his head. Mya Wai was not able to move his 
head as he was bound to a chair, and the water fell on the same spot. As
time passed the pain became unbearable, and he could not 
stand even the sound of the water dropping. This went on for a whole day
from morning to the next morning, and Mya Wai fainted.
The second time was in 1976 when he participated in the student rally and
demonstration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 
birth of Thakin Kodawmaing.
This time he was detained for four to five months, and he was asked
questions such as 'Who is the leader of this movement? What does 
the leader instruct you to do? Are you in contact with the underground
communists?' He was also hit on the head and kicked by 
shoes. According to Mya Wai, his hearing was damaged from having his head
ground against the wall.
Mya Wai was again arrested on May Day, 1977, for distributing fliers that
criticized the government's labor policy. They said 
'Oh, it is your third time,' and he was put in a punishment cell. He was not
allowed to talk to anyone, and was not even given food 
for the first two or three days. This cell was less than one square meter
big, so he could not sit down and had to keep standing. He 
did not have access to toilet facilities. He was detained for three months. 
On 7 July 1978, the anniversary of the students movement, Mya Wai was
arrested again during a demonstration. When he gave his name as 
Mya Wai, he was put in a dog cell because it was his fourth time. He was
detained for four months. 

3. Mya Wai's first visit to Japan
Mya Wai came to Japan in December 1987. When in September 1988 the coup
occurred in Burma that suppressed the nation's voice crying 
for democracy, Mya Wai became active as a founding member of the Burmese
Association in Japan (BAIJ).

4. Mya Wai's return to Burma
Mya Wai returned to Burma in December 1989 because his mother was seriously
ill. Two weeks after his return, his mother passed away.

In January or February 1990, an M.I. came in the middle of the night saying
'I have some things to ask you,' and took Mya Wai away. Mya 
Wai was interrogated about the BAIJ. The reason the military knew that Mya
Wai was a member of BAIJ was because the staff of the 
Myanmar Embassy in Japan take photographs of the people participating in
demonstrations in Japan, and Mya Wai was in one of 
the photographs. Mya Wai was actually shown that photograph. He was asked
about the BAIJ in general, and especially about what country 
the BAIJ was related closely to, and what country the BAIJ received
financial aid from. 
Mya Wai was detained for about six months. He was made to shout 'Restore
democracy!' until he was exhausted. He was made to pretend 
that he was riding on a motorcycle, imitating the sound of the engine with
his voice, or to pretend to be an airplane.
Mya Wai was released finally after pledging that he would no longer take
part in any pro-democracy activities.

5. Mya Wai's second visit to Japan
Mya Wai came again to Japan. After his arrival, he lived with Thein Ngwe,
who had obtained refugee status in 1993 and was a member of 
BAIJ. Mya Wai resumed working with the BAIJ as soon as he returned to Japan.
He became an executive committee member in 1994, and has 
been since then. Mya Wai participated as an individual in the hunger strike
that took place in Tokyo on 8 August 1996. An account of 
this strike including a photograph showing Mya Wai, was carried in 'Myet
Khin Thit', a semi-governmental publication in Burma.
Mya Wai was able to communicate with his family until June 1997. The last
time he telephoned them, he spoke to his wife. However, 
after the press conference on 27 June 1997 regarding the parcel bomb
explosion in which the SLORC named Thein Ngwe (mentioned above)
and Thomas Gon Aung (a refugee applicant) as the senders of the parcel bomb,
and accused many more members of BAIJ as having 
conspired in the incident, Mya Wai could no longer communicate with his
family by telephone. In early July he called the neighbor of 
his home in Burma who promised to bring Mya Wai's family to the phone at a
certain time on the next day so that he might speak to 
them. However, when Mya Wai called the neighbor the next day at the promised
time, that phone line did not work. 

6. Conclusion and request
It is clear that Mya Wai cannot go back to Burma under such circumstances,
as it is certain that the SLORC would set him up as 
having been involved in the parcel bomb plot.It is difficult to understand
why the Japanese government would not 
grant refugee status to such a person merely because he did not apply within
sixty days of his landing in Japan. We can only say 
that the Japanese standard of granting refugee status is far from the
standard set in the 1951 Convention.
For Mya Wai to return to Burma is extremely dangerous. However, Japan would
even deport a person such as Mya Wai.
As stated above, Mya Wai is still in detention. Since he was detained, Mya
Wai's blood pressure has gone up, and his physical 
condition is by no means good.
The lawyers' group assisting Burmese asylum seekers is preparing for a
lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the denial to Mya Wai's 
application for refugee status. 

Please send a letter or FAX to the Japanese immigration asking it to
reconsider Mya Wai's request for provisional release. 

Sample letter (English)
Dear Sir,
I am writing in regard to Mr Mya Wai, a Burmese (Myanmarese) living in
Japan, whose request for a provisional release was denied on 17 
September 1997. Mr Mya Wai has been arrested and tortured several times by
the military junta in his home country Burma (Myanmar), solely because he
was taking part in pro-democracy activities. It would be extremely dangerous
for Mr Mya Wai if he should be deported to 
Burma (Myanmar). Please reconsider Mr Mya Wai's request for provisional
Yours Sincerely,

Please mail this to:
Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice
3-2-21 Nishigaoka, Kita-ku
Tokyo 115 JAPAN

FAX should be sent to 81-3-3263-3882 (The People's Forum on Burma). 
PFB will forward the faxes to the immigration office. 


Mya Wai, the activist who has been detained by immigration authorities in
Japan because of lack of legal status in Japan, 
was transferred to the detention center at Ushiku on 1 October. Transfer to
the Ushiku center is generally taken as the last step
before finally deporting the 'overstayer'. 

(Please see previous posting for Mya Wai's background information.)

Since he was detained on 13 August Mya Wai had been at the detention center
at Jujo which is in Tokyo. On 1 October the immigration
authorities transferred him to the center at Ushiku (about 1.5 hours by car
from downtown Tokyo). None of Mya Wai's lawyers were 

On 9 October the lawyers filed two lawsuits on Mya Wai's case against the
Minister of Justice, one demanding the cancellation of the denial 
of his application for refugee status, and the other demanding the
cancellation of the issue of the order to repatriate). Soon after the 
suits were filed, the Ministry of Justice informed the lawyers that Mya Wai
will not be repatriated for two weeks, as it would take
two weeks for the Ministry of Justice to submit a statement in response to
the suits.

Mya Wai has a record of arrests and torture by the SLORC when he was in
Burma because of his participation in pro-democracy activities.
He is also known to the SLORC as an activist in Japan and his photos have
appeared in government newspapers in which the SLORC accuses 
him as having been involved in the parcel bomb incident in April. It is
extremely dangerous for him to be repatriated, although
the immigration authorities do not seem to realize this in spite of efforts
by lawyers and concerned citizens. 

As stated above, transfer to Ushiku is generally done shortly before
repatriation. Although the Ministry of Justice has promised not to 
repatriate him for two weeks, Mya Wai remains in a very unstable condition.
We are of the opinion that he should be released,
especially as the recent lawsuits are likely to take at least six months to
reach any conclusion.

Please write to the Japanese immigration authorities! Please ask them not to
repatriate Mya Wai and to reconsider his application for 
provisional release.

Please mail to:
Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice
Keibi-ka (Security Division)
3-2-21 Nishigaoka, Kita-ku
Tokyo 115 JAPAN

FAX should be sent to 81-3-3263-3882 (The People's Forum on Burma). PFB 
will forward the faxes to the immigration office. 

( The People's Forum on Burma/Lawyers group assisting Burmese applicants for
refugee status )