Saturday, 20 October 2012

Thai police arrest Burmese refugees again

Refugees have rights!
Today, 3 September 2010, Thai Bangkok Police rounded up many illegal Burmese immigrants in the Thai border town of Mae Sot. This is not the first time this happens. And no doubt, it will not be the last time. Considering the upcoming elections in Burma and the business- and other ties the Thai and Burma governments have, one can only fear what might happen in terms of human rights abuses in the next few months leading up to the elections.
Most of these illegal immigrants in Mae Sot and surroundings are refugees from Burma. They left the country for various reasons: some fled persecution, others poverty and surpression. All were afraid and in danger and looking for safety and a better life for themselves and their families. Some knew their lives were not safe inside anymore, due to their peaceful struggle for something most of us take for granted: Freedom.
Happy to think they arrived in a safe country, most of these people realised all too soon, they could not have been more mistaken. Thailand does not recognise most of these Burmese refugees and is not very eager to help them. Along the Western Thai border, there are around 10 refugee camps, where more than 100,000 Burmese refugees live. Most of them are in completely hopeless situations: they cannot return to Burma for fear of their lives, they cannot legally work and live outside the camp (i.e. Thailand) and no third country is willing to accept them. The refugee camps in this part of the world are filled with tens of thousands of people who are literally imprisoned in a free country and have no choice over their lives and nowhere to go. Human beings like us, waiting, just waiting and not able to do much themselves to improve their fate. Some of them lost hope. For a human being, to live without hope, is to stop living.
According to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everybody has the right to seek asylum in another country and to seek protection against persecution. The United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1956) states that refugees – those with substantial fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group or political conviction –  can not be sent back to a country in which they fear persecution. This is called the non-refoulement principle.
By arresting Burmese refugees, locking them up in refugee camps, not allowing them to apply for refugee status, putting them in prison and even sending them back into Burma, the Thai government is disrespecting these international conventions and more importantly, ignoring basic human rights.
By treating fellow human beings like this and by taking away their hope and self-determination, the Thai government is guilty of human rights violations.
The international community should raise its voice and take action!
by Samarinde Tin

Peace Now online

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Sat 10 Nov 2012
BABSEA 2nd Annual Access To Justice Public Interest Fair
"justify">Get information and help support local community-based organizations, build a network, and find out about job and volunteer opportunities at this fair showcasing the work of NGOs working in Southeast Asia.
Where: Kantary Hills Hotel, 44 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 12, Chiang Mai
Time: 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Entrance: free

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