Thailand panned by exiled Shans for denying camps Shan refugees
by exiled Shans for denying camps
The Thai government has been criticized by a Shan elder in exile for its refusal to allow Shan refugees to set up camps along the border, according to a copy of a letter received by S.H.A.N. yesterday.
"(Others) are luckier in that if they get to the Thai border, they can go into camps. But not the Shans", says the writer, who used to be a rebel officer but is now living in the west, in his letter to an American diplomat. "The reasoning of the Thais authorities is that if Shans are given camps, all 7 or 8 million of them will flow into Thailand, because Shans are ethnically Thai. This is their main logic, their bugbear, their ghost."
The author argues that the rationale is flawed. "(T)ake the Mons, Karenni and the Karens. Although there are refugee camps for them, the majority are still inside, coping with hell as best they (can). This is human courage, human-dignity (and) human tenacity," he eulogizes.
"Thai authorities and the UNHCR -- who should know better -- underestimate the human spirit and insult the victims, especially the Shan, by presuming that Shans are without human intelligence and sense of self respect."
Four options to deal with what he
terms as "this human tragedy on a massive scale" are suggested:
Pretend that the problem does not exist, Provide sanctuaries for
those fleeing from the killing zones; Take drastic action against
Rangoon for its barbaric inhumanity and Work with the international
community to bring about dialogue in Burma.
"The hunting and killing of ... human beings systematically, routinely, is not an internal affair of any country or any government," he contends. "If it is made clear to the Chinese what barbaric actions the SPDC is taking against its 'national minorities', ... I am sure China will be the first to twist the SPDC's arms."
There are 450 Shans staying in temporary shelters in Chiangmai's Wianghaeng District, opposite Mongton Township, where a month-long battle (20 May - 20 June) was waged between the Shan rebels and the Burma Army. At least 300,000 others, being denied the status of refugees, are working as immigrant laborers inside Thailand, according to a human rights worker.
Jaran Ditaphichai, member of the National Human Rights Commission, asked why Shans were not allowed to establish camps on 3 September, replied, "Because we bear the same names: we are Thai Noi (small Thai) and you are Thai Yai (big Thai)."