Thursday, 30 May 2013

They Told Us So, But Did We Listen?

Not long ago I discussed a documentary called "Nothing About Us Without Us"  If you care to watch it, or watch it again I've included the link just below.  What is really aggravating is governments and large NGO's have been treating these people with no, absolutely no, respect!   They have been lying to them about repatriation plans which were being carried on behind there back.  

When I mentioned this video to people, I received some surprisingly defensive comments.  It seemed at the time that the Karen had shined a light on the pile of dung in the living room and the 'important' people were not to pleased.  The best they could do was ridicule the makers of the video.  Well, what do ya think they have to say now? 


What triggered this diatribe?  Well the answer, gentle reader, is:

Plans Under Way to Repatriate Burma’s Refugees
by Saw Yieng Naing / The Irrawaddy

A female refugee makes a sheet of leaves for the roof of her house in Ei Htu Hta refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. (Photo: Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy)

More than 140,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand are facing mounting pressure to leave their camps on the border and return to their homeland, with many refugees saying they are not ready or willing to return.
Refugees in camps in northwest Thailand say they have been given three options: move elsewhere in Thailand, return to Burma or resettle in a third country. They say they have been asked to select a choice on a form delivered by Mae Fah Luang Foundation, a Thai organization under royal patronage that is based in Chiang Mai Province.
Most of the refugees on the Thai-Burma border are ethnic Karen who fled their homes in southeast Burma due to civil wars between the government and ethnic armed groups. Many are economic migrants who crossed the border in search of employment.
Several refugees in the Mae La refugee camp, which houses more than 40,000 people in Tak Province, said the Mae Fah Luang Foundation created the survey earlier this month and asked adults and teenagers in the camp to fill out their responses.
“On the form, refugees have three options,” said Ah Mu, who lives in the camp. “They [refugees] were asked to choose their top priority. For example, if they want to go to a third country, they have to mark that option…and also specify which country they have in mind.”
“They were also asked to mark their second and third priorities, in case if they weren’t matched with their first choice,” he added.
Ah Mu said other questions focused on the refugees’ skills and education levels, as well as where in Burma they would return and what kind of jobs they would pursue there.
The Thai foundation also distributed forms last month to community leaders who administrate another refugee camp known as Umpiem Mai, according to Tun Tun, the general-secretary of that camp.
He said he and other community leaders were consulting with refugees to consider their options as they completed the forms, which he said would be collected by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation in November.
Some refugees said that although they technically had three options, the criteria for traveling to a third country or staying in Thailand was so strict that many people were forced to opt to “voluntarily return” to Burma, even though they did not wish to do so.
Some others, however, said that those who complained were mostly newcomers and economic migrants from urban areas in Burma.
According to regulations from the UN refugee agency’s resettlement program, refugees without registration cards do not meet the criteria for resettlement.
So far, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that 81,700 refugees from Burma have been moved to other countries from Thailand since the UN resettlement program started in 2005.
Vivian Tan, spokesperson for the UNHCR in Asia, said it was not yet time to promote the repatriation of refugees to Burma. However, she confirmed that UNHCR and partners continued to consult with refugee communities and community-based organizations regarding their options and needs.
“We are also collecting information on the situation in the southeast [of Burma] that we will share with the refugees to enable them to make an informed choice when voluntary repatriation eventually becomes feasible,” she said.
Tan added that a profiling exercise began earlier this month to collect more information about the refugees, including their hometowns, education levels, skills and future plans.
She said all concerned ethnic armed groups and the Burmese government needed to agree on safeguards for returnees, including amnesties and respect for basic rights relating to freedom of movement, as well as the issuance of identity documents upon return. She also called for preparations in areas of potential return to ensure that returnees had a place to live and access to basic facilities, services and work opportunities.
There has been no public or official announcement about refugee repatriation or the expected closure of nine refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Some NGO sources, however, say Thai and Burmese authorities intend to shut the camps by 2015.
NGOs including UNHCR, The Border Consortium (TBC) and community-based organizations are conducting repatriation training and workshops for the refugees.
Representatives from refugee support agencies and international NGOs have been meeting with Burmese government officials in Naypyidaw since last year and engaging in efforts to facilitate the eventual repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burma.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

You can make a real difference for less than $30 USD!

A little background:  My mother used to say that what goes around comes around.  She also reminded me that it gains both girth and speed on the back stretch. The 4th Universal law - The law of receiving reminds us that in order to receive you must give, else you close off the channel.  

850 Thai baht is worth approximately 28.35 U.S. Dollars,  21.90 Euros, 18.73 British Pounds or 29.35 Australian Dollars.  It’s not a huge amount of money, though it’s not, at least to me, trivial.  I’m asking you to spend or donate that amount of money and here are my suggestions:
  •         If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on Saturday June First,For only 850 baht you can attend a Gala Charity Event ‘Eyes on Burma’ at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. Time: 5:30 exhibition and silent auction / 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. dinner, dancing, entertainment.  There are some details at:  The Best Friend  There are several great reasons to attend:

1.    My personal favorite:  It supports an organization that is needed in this uncertain time along the Thailand/Burma border
2.    The Key Note Speaker is Tin Tin Nyo, General Secretary of Women's League of Burma) and there will be representatives from several well known organizations all doing good work to help the people along the Thai/Burma border including some of my personal hero’s like the Free Burma Rangers and Partners Relief & Development.
3.    The dinner will be an exquisite Burmese buffet
4.    The entertainment will be provided by several Burmese organizations and
5.    The dance band will be Thailand’s famous Dang Fantastic!

 The Best Friend
  • If you can’t make the event, please make a donation at The Best Friend Library Indiegogo campaign.     Please give the amount that you are comfortable with, plus just $5.00 more!   The campaign goal is reachable and that allows the library to be sustainable.  

Indiegogo campaign
The Best Friend Library in Chaing Mai is probably responsible for saving the life of Chaa Nay Choo, the 14 year old who suffered horrific burns trying to save others in the fire at Mae Surin refugee camp near Mae Hong Song on 22 March. 
Chaa Nay Choo
Although the Chaa Nay Choo is still receiving support from the library, the managed to conduct a successful campaing to finance new arms for Khong Naitun, the migrant worker from Burma who lost both of his arms in an electrical accident at his worksite. 
Khong Naitun
Just one final thought.  The Best Friend Library in Chiang Mai is worth keeping open and you deserve all the prosperity and happiness that you will allow through your generous donations!  

Abundant Blessings, 



Friday, 10 May 2013

'Burma in the Spotlight' Gala Charity Dinner & Dance in support of The Best Friend Library – Chiang Mai!

Gentle Reader, 

As you know I'm volunteering some of my time to support The Best Friend Library.  Please take a moment and look at their website and you will see that it's much more than a library.

A couple of hours ago Best Friend Library posted an article announcing a successful campaign to provide Khong Naitun, a Burmese migrant worker who suffered horrific injuries from a construction accident, with two new prosthetic arms!  

  This is an organization that deserves our support!

Thank you in advance for your interest in the 'Burma in the Spotlight' Gala Charity Dinner & Dance in support of The Best Friend Library – Chiang Mai! The event will be held on Saturday, June 1, at The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. There are several ways you can support this event:

• ATTEND:   We hope you will attend the event with your friends. Tickets are only ฿850 each, and for that you receive a lot of value: an expansive Burmese buffet dinner, live entertainment by Dang Fantastic, one of Thailand's best-loved musicians, performances by talented artists from Burma, free library membership, and a chance to win some amazing prizes. Best of all, every baht raised supports education and social welfare projects for people from Burma!

Tickets are on sale at The Best Friend Library (302/2 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 13), The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel's reception desk, and customer service desks at every Rimping Supermarket in Chiang Mai.  I also have tickets for sale; you may call me directly. Let me know if you are interested in booking a full table for 10 at a special price!

• DONATE:  Our business friends are encouraged to donate prizes for the event's lucky draw. This is a great opportunity to have your business featured at the event to a targeted, compassionate, and active audience. as well as a great opportunity for people to try your product or service. Hopefully, each lucky draw winner will receive a prize worth at least 1,000 baht. 

• ADVERTISE:  A 20-page full-color program will be produced and distributed to each attendee, in addition to special supporters who are unable to attend the event in person. We are able to offer a select number of full-page ad spaces in the program. Advertisements will be A5 (vertical)-sized, and are offered for only ฿1,500 each. This opportunity won't last long. If you are interested, please contact me or The Best Friend Library as soon as possible.

• PROMOTE: Please forward this email to all your friends and colleagues to help spread the word. We have A4 and A3-size event posters. Perhaps you would display one at your place of business. Just let us know if you are willing, and we will deliver to you!

You can see more details at the following links:  This is the organization we are primarily supporting with this event, although many other local Burma-related organizations will also be benefitting.

I look forward to discussing the event and your participation further! You can contact me at or 089-556-4293. You can also email

Abundant Blessings,

Jerry Nelson