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.