By The Irrawaddy
August 17, 2007
Burmese living in
Around 25 prominent Burmese working to restore democracy in
The conference organizer told The Irrawaddy that Canadian members of parliament, officials from Foreign Affairs Canada, ambassadors to
Conference organizers have sent appeal letters to Canadian officials to intervene. So far only two Burmese have been granted visa.
Tin Maung Htoo, the conference organizer and executive director of Canadian Friends of Burma based in
The process is "unreasonably stringent for some applicants, in this case Burmese citizens and other citizens we invited," he said. "Even compared to the
"This is very unfortunate and an apparent contradiction to what
Canadian aid organizations such as Canada Fund and the Canadian International Development Agency support Burmese refugees and Burmese groups along the Thai-Burmese border.
Last year, Dr Cynthia Maung, a Karen doctor who has won international humanitarian awards and was featured as an "Asia Hero" in Time magazine, was denied a visa at the Canadian embassy in
According to Tin Maung Htoo, when Burmese applied for visas at Canadian embassies in
He said that he sent an appeal letter to Stockwell Day, the minister for public safety in
In the letter obtained by The Irrawaddy, he said: “A number of our guests’ visa applications have been turned down by Canadian embassies in
Similar appeals and requests for intervention were also sent to Diane Finley,
According to senior members of CFOB and Burmese who were not granted visas in the past, Canadian immigration officials have stated that visas could not be issued to an individual who lived in another country without lawful permission. It is considered too high of a risk for
Tin Maung Htoo’s said the incident has offended the applicants. He said the CFOB repeatedly assured the embassies that the applicants' expenses and return tickets were taken care of, but the embassy staffs did not take the assurances seriously.
A CFOB member said Canadian immigration officials are concerned that Burmese who visit
A Burmese activist who lives in Mae Sot said he did not want to complain about the visa restrictions. However, he felt that his rights were violated.
“They (immigration officers) were not satisfied with many things, including my financial status and my travel history and background," he said.
In a related issue, an international women's conference scheduled to meet in September in