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Mizzima: Burmese fishermen to be re

Burmese fishermen to be repatriated in two months, say embassy
representative in Calcutta

Calcutta, October 22, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

The Burmese authorities are expediting the process of taking 58
fishermen who are languishing in two West Bengal jails back to Burma but
it may take some more months. The Burmese embassy representative in
Calcutta Mr. .B Chowdhury said that he had sent the residential address
(in Burma) of these fishermen to the Burmese authorities eight months
ago but he is still waiting for the official response from Rangoon.

He hops that the fishermen will be repatriated in about two months.

These 58 fishermen who are in Alipore Central Jail and Presidency Jail
were arrested from Thai-owned fishing boats in 1997 in the Indian Ocean.
They were charged under Section 14 of Foreigner?s Act for illegal entry
to India but acquitted by the Indian courts in September 1999. The
fishermen continues to languish in the jails for the last one year as
their government back home does not call them yet.

There are a number of Burmese fishermen who face similar situation,
being imprisoned in various jails of Indian port cities as they crossed
the Indian water territory while travelling or fishing in the sea
without any ?document?. Many of them are waiting to be repatriated to
Burma after completing their prison terms.

It usually takes about one and half year for the Burmese authorities to
take them back to Burma due to slow and ineffective verification process
of whether they are Burmese citizens or not. During that period, the
fishermen continues to be in prisons with little support as Indian
prison rules say that those prisoners who completed their sentence get
less food and other rations.

On 16th of this month, total 79 Burmese fishermen were repatriated to
urma from Port Blair of India. There are currently nearly 300 Burmese
fishermen being imprisoned for the same offence in Port Blair jail
alone, said Mr. P. B. Chowdhury.

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