Monthly Archives: February 2009

Food and culture evening

If you are in Auckland, 15th March, you can enjoy loads of delicious Burmese and ethnic foods, with a short report from Dr Aung Mang of MEGST on cyclone relief and Christian witness as well as a cultural display with ethnic dancing. A fun and informative evening out.

5pm-8pm at Laidlaw College (ex-BCNZ) just $30. The details are here do tell your friends of make up a party!

Dawn raid

Getting across the border out of Burma does not mean safety for the ethnic minorities. If they integrate into a refugee camp life is restricted to the confines of the camp, and with no working allowed, but is secure, since an NGO and the UNHCR seek to protect your “rights”. On the other hand as “illegal immigrants” people can work, and even move around, with no rights and a fear of the authorities. If however you are “caught” by the authorities, or a vigilante group, in the new country, then things get tough. This account arrived today from a friend of ours in Malaysia:

I attempted to access our 2 friends who were arrested in the recent dawn raid. I went to 2 airports, 2 immigration detention camps, an immigration office and negotiated with 2 police men, 4 RELA officers and 5 immigration officials. In the end, despite my utmost efforts and much pleading with the officer in charge, I was denied access but was at least allowed to leave clean clothes, soap and toothbrushes for them. Today they had to face immigration charges in court. Unfortunately it was a closed court and I was again denied access. The UNHCR lawyer, however, was able to make an appearance at my request. We are hoping that the representation of the UN lawyer will avoid our friends being sentenced to severe whipping. Our friends have now been transferred to prison where I will make a renewed attempt to access them and ascertain their condition.

Please pray!

A face and a name

Burma Army on road near burned house in Ler Mu Plaw (Partners)

Burma Army on road near burned house in Ler Mu Plaw (Partners)

Burma Army on road near burned house in Ler Mu Plaw (Partners)

Reading about the concerted effeorts of the Burma Army to build roads, that are “protected” by landmines to extend their grasp on Karen State sounds clinical and academic, there’s even a map in the FBR report that makes it all look almost like a traditional AA roadmap. Though the images of soldiers and burned out homes is a less cheerful note.

Mary Wa and baby the day after recovering (Partners)

Mary Wa and baby the day after recovering (Partners)

It all becomes more real when you scroll down and read the story of Mary Wah without the picture and story she’d be just one more number in the statistics of horror. But with the picture and her story the story of the road becomes more real. Mary has a seven month old baby, but she does not want to live (she overdosed on quinine the anti-malarial). She used to have a husband, but he stepped on a landmine trying to cross the Ler Mu Plaw road. In his agony after the mine blew off his leg he shot himself with his hunting rifle, to avoid being caught by the Burma army.

As a child Mary had a home, but:

On November 11, 2006, at 11:10 am, Burma Army troops came to their village. They burned down 12-18 homes, shot and wounded one villager, and destroyed all their rice barns. Mary Wah, her
family, and all the other villagers escaped unharmed but lost all of their possessions and homes. Mary Wah and her friends finished the school year in the jungle.

As an IDP, a homeless refugee in her own country, she married Mo Chi Wah (another IDP) in 2007 when she was just 15. Now she is a widow. She said: “I felt very confused. I could not cope. I decided to kill myself.”

The cold facts leave me cold and angry. Mary’s story reduces me to tears. Do look at the Free Burma Rangers website and get some facts and some stories about what is going on in Burma.