Enote 67 – Forgotten Muslim Children

November 17, 2010

Recent Elections:

Having promised them for years, in fact ever since the generals refused to allow the only democratically elected party to govern, Burma has finally had elections. In 1990 the National League for Democracy whose leader is Aung San Suu Kyi the Nobel Peace Laureate of 1991, won a popular election by 80%, but the army nullified the outcome. Aung San Suu Kyi is shown just below with her father in the background.

Aung San Suu Kyi with Father
Now after twenty years of rule by force, the military has allowed the people to speak. That is with some limitations. The new constitution guarantees the military at least 1/4 of the vote in the bicameral Union Assembly, and allows the military veto power over any results.

Tensions between the government and the armies supporting the ethnic people have been exacerbated by the political events. In Myawaddy, a town just across the border from Mae Sot fighting broke out between the DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army),and the Tatmadaw (the Burmese Army). This caused many frightened persons to flee across the border, filling Dr. Cynthia's Mae Tao Clinic, and other institutions Thai and Burmese alike.

Cynthia reports:

Before the polls in Burma closed on November 7th, fighting broke out in Myawaddy, just a few kilometres from the clinic.   On November 8th, an estimated 15,000 residents of Myawaddy fled to Thailand and took refuge in Mae Sot.   When the SPDC regained control of Myawaddy, Thai authorities closed the camp and urged the refugees to return home. The situation remains tense and volatile. Thousands feel unable to return to Burma due to reports of continued fighting and rumours of renewed fighting to come.  Households in Tak province have taken the term “houseguest” to a new level, providing food and shelter to family, friends and strangers from across the border.   Migrant schools and orphanages are stretching their already strained resources to take in “guests” who are in need. Dr. Cynthia's Mae Tao Clinil has sent a marvelous video which you may see here
Refugees and PoliceRefugees meeting Thai Police
 
Tommy Kana, 
a past student of ours, now employed by ZOA the Dutch aid agency and also volunteering for us,  writes:   In fact, reports received around 1400hrs on Wednesday, 10 November, indicate that the DKBA have again moved back into Myawaddy and that the SPDC are recruiting porters to attack the DKBA in the northern areas of Myawaddy.
It is, therefore, anticipated that many of the greater Myawaddy residents who did return to their homes in Burma may decide to flee to Thailand again and that the numbers of refugees seeking shelter on the Thai side of the border may grow beyond the recent levels, since these reports indicate a very real likelihood of further and escalating conflict inside Burma. It is also reported that, in the wake of the elections on Sunday 07 November 2010, sporadic fighting broke out between the SPDC Army forces and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in other areas including the area opposite Phop Phra in Thailand’s Tak Province. There is a known history of skirmishes in the Pho Pra area, as confirmed through these interviews. However, people are reporting that fighting “has never been this intense and that this was the first time in their minds that they had had to bring their complete worldly belongings in case of an SPDC attack and pillage”. There is a fear on the part of those interviewed that the current situation may become “more protracted than the usual local skirmishes” of the past. Fighting is also being reported in Kawkareik in Karen State and in the area around Three Pagoda Pass near the Thai town of Sangklaburi.

What about us:

How is this changing our situation? Because we are not an emergency relief agency, this crisis, bad as it is, has little if any immediate impact on our work. However we do expect that many of the new refugees will not return home, and will contribute to the already large problem Thailand has with its neighbors, and to our work in education. One way to look at the situation is that by treating its people so poorly, and by spending so little on basic services like health care and education, Burma is exporting those tasks to a more civilized society. I like to think that we are part of that.

Activities:

  • Preparation for Trip to Asia.
  • Continuing Planned Giving Visits.
  • Planning Trip to Bangladesh this year.
  • Writing reports to Granting Agencies.
  • Finishing Project Payments.

Appeal:

Those of you who are not on our mailing list should know that we make one appeal for support each year. Over the thirteen years since we started, we have supported: hundreds of students on university scholarships, scores of high school and vocational school students, about ten schools in Thailand and Burma, raising about $2million for this aid. Also you should know that we are the only charity group in Mizoram State, India supporting education for the Chin people. We ask you at this time to become a partner with us in our work. You may do this by clicking on the Donate Button below.

Thank you, and remember you are invited to visit us in Thailand or Mizoram next year.

I have kept the link to the video that I gave last time, in case you missed it. It is well worth viewing.

Best Wishes to you,

Tom

Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.

Donate