Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Refugees!! Or Illegal Immigrants!! Or Democracy!!

"I don't want to go back there. There is like a hell!! If I go back, the only thing we see is not hope. I'm not going back there even if it is my hometown!!"

Lately, I heard a lot about the Myanmar issues.

Those are words from someone from the chinese community in Myanmar. The Chin people is one of the ethnic group in Myanmar. They reside in a place called Chinland, a tiny states in the far Western Myanmar where their neighbour is India and Bangladesh. The Chins is the only ethnic group in Myanmar whose religion is Christianity. Their number is around 1.5 million and the number is expected to dwindled as many seek asylum in the third country.

The Chin state was never part of the Burma until the British golden age. The local authorities signed the Pinlong Agreement to bring Chin State under Burmese control, although the Burmese authorities had intended to give the Chins independence after the end of British rule. However, due to the assassination of General Aung San, the Pinlong agreement was ignored and was not honored by the government at that time. The military administration of the country has subsequently failed to develop infrastructure in the state, with the result that prior to the 1988 uprising, 80% of the population of the state was of Chin ethnicity, as many ethnic Burmans did not wish to live there. Since that time, the military has attempted to assert its authority more strongly over the state.

Ever since the democracy has lost in Myanmar, thousands and thousands of Chins decided to seek refugees and asylum from other countries. The military junta administration began in Myanmar for almost 5 decades, since 1962 and certain groups of people received oppression from the military regime. The Pro-democracy led by the Nobel Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyii uproar an uprising called 8888 Uprising in 1988 to cease military rule. 8888 is a date when the uprising started - that's 8 August 1988. Military coup ended the uprising on 18 September and Aung San Suu Kyii emerged as an icon. But the result of the coup, about 7000 people killed.

In 1990, a general election was called. The result; Aung San Suu Kyii with her party, National League for Democracy won decisively. Being the NLD's candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi under normal circumstances would have assumed the office of Prime Minister. However the junta nullified the result and refused to hand over the power. Ever since then, she was handed a home arrest spending most of her time at detention.

In 2006, the military began what the world believe as a slow genocide and racial cleansing of Karen people. There are 7.4 million people, mostly living in Myanmar and a minority in Thailand. the Karen had become the largest of 20 minority groups participating in an insurgency against the military dictatorship. During the 1980s, the Karen National Union (KNU) fighting force numbered approximately 20,000. After an uprising of the people of Burma in 1988, the KNU had accepted those demonstrators in their bases along the border. The dictatorship expanded the army and launched a series of major offensives against the KNU. By 2006, the KNU's strength had shrunk to less than 4,000, opposing what is now a 400,000-man Burmese army. However, the KNU continued efforts to resolve the conflict through political means.

The conflict continues in 2006. estimates that up to 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes during decades of war, with 120,000 more refugees from Burma, mostly Karen, living in refugee camps on the Thai side of the border. The fact is that about 30-40% of the Karen people are Christians.

Due to the conflict in Myanmar, the Chins and Karens were driven out and had no choice but to become a refugee seeking asylum in other countries. The Chins and Karens are considered as a refugee under UNHCR - a United Nation body overseeing refugees. The Chins nowadays are trying to seek an asylum in Thailand, Malaysia and European countries. Desperate or not, they are driven from their home and become nationless. The Chins number in Malaysia is believed to be somewhere 25,000. The Karens' data are unknown since many seeks asylum in Thailand. Since Malaysia is not in policy to give asylum to them, as Malaysia didn't sign the pact for refugees protection, the Chins are not considered as refugees but we labelled them as an illegal immigrants. How fair!!!

I also witnessed from a TV show about the immigrants from Myanmar. There is this story about a group of Myanmar immigrants (not neccessary the Chins but also include those Muslim minority or others form Myanmar as well.) been caught by the Immigration officer. They were locked up in detention centre then sent home. The officers sent them to the Thai border where the Thais will arranged their sent-home. (please note that the Thais are no longer responsible for this issue) According to them, what really happen is that they are sold to a middle-men who organize their return to the country with simple conditions- they need to pay, if not abandoned in Thailand or been sold to other people. Once they pay, they will be brought back into MAlaysia and the middle-men also give some form of commision to the Immigration officers involved. Nevertheless, the truth is not yet really known but the claims of these people should be a concern.

Lately, the country was hit by a worst tropical cyclone. Cyclone Nargis strike the nation last week but helps aren't arrived at those who in needs. The victim, if the resources of certain NGOs were right, there would be 100,000 reported death due to the disaster.

I pray for world peace, people!!

No comments:

Post a Comment