When an ethical boycott backfires

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View original here

Propped up by a set of brass coils encircling her neck, Mapaung’s head turns stiffly to survey the deserted village of Kayan Tharyar. Beyond the mountains in the background lies her homeland – Burma.

It’s another quiet day in the village. No more than five years ago, hordes of tourists would flock in by the busload to gawk at the women who live here, take photos and, with any luck, buy some souvenirs.

But now, amid continuing campaigns by human rights organisations and ethical tourism agencies to ‘Stop the Human Zoo’ in northwestern Thailand, the steady stream of visitors has dried up. And so has their money.

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Refugee students learn life’s lessons

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View original here

It’s 9am on a Tuesday, and the usual noisiness that accompanies school mornings rings out across the village of Do Ki Ta.

Ranging in age from late teens to early twenties, the students of the Karenni National Community College (KNCC) make their way from the Burmese refugee camp of Ban Nai Soi, located on the Thai side of the eastern Burmese border, to their classrooms.

Some have walked for an hour and a half to get to school. Others have come on motorbikes, a 45 to 50-minute journey across muddy, uneven roads which are dangerously flooded during the monsoon season.

Lucky students like 20-year-old Nyereh are housed in one of the college’s few bamboo hostels dotted about the village. But now that Burma’s ethnic rebels are in the final stages of signing a ceasefire agreement with government, talks of repatriation are echoing through the refugee camps along the border, and it is unsure how long they can remain there.

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Aussie activists spend a week as refugees

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here. 

While most Australians were happily tucking into bacon and eggs on Saturday morning, Jade Horrobin was finishing off the last of her week’s rations.

In the week leading up to World Refugee Day on 20 June, Horrobin had been taking part in the ‘Ration Challenge’ fundraising project designed by charity organisation Act For Peace, when for a week, participants are only allowed to eat the same food rations as distributed at the Mae La Oon refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border.

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Caught in the crossfire

As published with Democratic Voice of Burma. View the original here

A small and isolated community in Chin State have suffered human rights abuses and been forced to flee their homes due to recent outbreaks of fighting in the state’s south, the Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) has reported.

“This is yet another case where ordinary civilians, this time Khumi Chin indigenous people, bear the brunt of armed conflict in Burma and suffer human rights violations,” said CHRO’s Advocacy Director Rachel Fleming in a statement on 15 June.

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Brian also helps the family with other things, such as setting up email or completing a car registration form.

Australia’s Refugees – The people behind the policy

As published in the Democratic Voice of Burma.

From the time she was a little girl, Eh-Moo (pronounced similarly to ‘Emma’) Da lived in uncertainty, with no real place to call home. That changed three years ago when her family was settled in northern Brisbane, a far cry from the refugee camps dotting the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

Having fled Myanmar in fear for her life, Eh-Moo’s mother, Happy Da, was only 16 years old when she first entered the camp with two-year-old Eh-Moo in tow. Over the next 15 years, while moving constantly between camps, Happy married another man, had two twin boys, and was granted a visa to live permanently in Australia.

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