Friday, August 7, 2009

Anti-refugee violence in Thailand

The Burmese refugees I have known have spoken sometimes about living in fear of violence from the Burmese Military Intelligence during their time in Thailand, both within and outside the refugee camps. Although I listened carefully, I also reserved judgment as to whether these fears were warranted or not. Sadly, however, it seems they are.

For instance, this week's time has an article on the possibility of bringing the current rulers of Burma to trial for war crimes. To read the entire article see the Time website. I have excerpted two paragraphs from the article.

"So does the regime's sudden interest in a little-known exile group called the Burma Lawyers' Council. In May, at a Bangkok hotel, it held a three-day seminar entitled "Advancing human rights and ending impunity in Burma." Among the subjects discussed by the 100 or so delegates were the criminal accountability of individual junta members and how the U.N. Security Council might be persuaded to investigate Burmese war crimes.

Days before the seminar began, the junta outlawed the lawyers' group, which previously had barely blipped on Naypyidaw's radar, then requested Thailand to halt the seminar. It went ahead, but the harassment continued. As Burmese spies prowled the hotel lobby, delegates heard reports that agents had been dispatched to kidnap or kill the group's chairman Aung Htoo. He was smuggled out of the seminar and spent three weeks in hiding in Thailand before fleeing for Sweden."

This organization and its members, it seems, take these claims quite seriously and they know much more than I do.

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