Myanmar: Junta orders closure of 24 local NGOs in Burma

Burma's Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered the closure of 24 Rangoon based non-political and non-profit associations, according to an internal order, a copy of which is in Mizzima's possesion.

The order, dated April 11, is addressed to the director of Rangoon general administrative department and signed by Kyin Lin, general secretary of registrations in the Home Ministry's central control board.

The order states that "this is to inform that the registration of the following 24 associations in Rangoon division has been objected to and that officials need to take necessary action as per the registration law of forming associations."

The order listed 24 Rangoon based non-political and non-profit associations including the free funeral society, run by famous Burmese actor Kyaw Thu.

The secretary of the free funeral society told Mizzima that their group's annual registration has not been renewed since 2005. "We have applied for renewal of our registration since 2005 but we have not received any reply as yet," he added.

He added that their group has received information from the Division general administration department but "it does not mean that we have to stop our operation."

The military government of Burma in early 2006 revised its regulations for international non-governmental organisations, which international humanitarian groups, including the United Nations agencies said imposed restrictions in implementing their projects.

In March, the International Committee of the Red Cross closed down two of its five offices in Burma citing government restrictions in organisational works.

ICRC also said it is "seriously considering" whether it should close down the remaining three offices as the organisation is unable to carry out field works.

Win Min, a Thailand based Burma affairs analyst, said surprisingly the home ministry's order includes many social and business organizations, some of which are set up with the encouragement of the junta or led by their cronies.

"There will be a lot of bad impact if all of these organizations can't work anymore," Win Min added.