While in Southest Asia this winter, SSU students learned about current issues, including the political state of Burma and the hill tribes in northern Thailand.
There has been a lot of coverage regarding Burma’s champion for democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi. Slated for release at the end of May after 13 of the last 19 years in house arrest, an apparently unwanted American entered her house without permission a few weeks ago. Now the Burmese junta is eager to find a way to remove her powerful political presence from what many believe will be staged elections next spring, which the junta is touting as the return of democracy to Burma. The UN, many major world powers and several NGOs are working to get Suu Kyi out of prison and out of house arrest. Is this really the role of external influences and individuals like ourselves, or should Burma be left to settle the issue internally? If you think the rest of the world should have a say, throw your own voice in the mix by joining one of the following petitions directed toward the UN or Burma’s government.
Amnesty International Canada
Online petition endorsed by the Canadian Friends of Burma
Just a short hop away, and attracting far less attention, is the plight of the Hmong people in northern Thailand, who also live in other surrounding countries. They are in Thailand as refugees because they currently face persecution in Laos because of the Hmong’s history of fighting against the communist party/government there. The UN has initiated repatriation efforts and Medecins san Frontieres (MSF, otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders) provides food and medical aid to this displaced people. However, the Thai military are now steering the Hmong people back to Laos against their wishes. Because of these actions and the Thai military’s pressure toward MSF to stop food supplies, MSF has deemed it necessary to withdraw from the Hmong camp they serve in, leaving no services available to this displaced people who don’t want to go home. I haven’t found a way to speak out on this issue, but if you find an opportunity, let me know.
Check out the news coverage at BBC News