At least three Myanmar activists were forced to leave Singapore after authorities decided not to renew their visas in an apparent attempt to stop the group’s pro-democracy work, another Myanmar activist said.
Myo Myint Maung, a spokesman for the group, told Reuters on Friday that six Myanmar nationals are having trouble with their visas and three, including a student, were forced to leave Singapore recently after their various visas were not renewed.
The remaining three are Singapore permanent residents, which means they can stay in the city-state if they choose to. But they will not be allowed to re-enter Singapore should they leave as their re-entry permits have not been extended.
All six were involved in an illegal protest last year against Myanmar’s ruling military junta. Though not charged, they were let off with a warning. Protests are rare in Singapore and gatherings of four or more people require police permission.
Myo said the treatment of the activists was not justified.
“We are very puzzled. I cannot think of any reasonable explanation for their decision not to renew it,” he said.
Singapore’s home ministry said in a statement that the right of a foreigner to work and stay in Singapore “is not a matter of entitlement by political demand”.
“Foreigners who work or live here are expected to at least respect the law and local sensitivities in Singapore,” said a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to the Singapore immigration website, the process to renew a re-entry permit into Singapore for a permanent resident only takes 30 minutes.
“It is usually a one-day process, but it has been pending for more than a month for some,” Myo said.
Singapore is home to around 100,000 Myanmar nationals, the pro-government Straits Times newspaper reported earlier this year.