Written by U Ne Oo on 1997-11-03
Dr U Ne Oo
18 Shannon Place
Adelaide SA 5000
November 3, 1997.
General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
Prime Minister of Thailand
Office of the Prime Ministee of the Prime Minister
Nakhorn Pathom Road
Bangkok 10300, Thailand.
Dear Prime Minister:
re: United Nations Protection for Burma's Refugees
I am a Burmese national currently residing in Adelaide, Australia. I firstly should like to thank you and especially the Thailand's Minister for Foreign Affairs for his recent efforts in persuading Military Government of Myanmar to make dialogue with the opposition National League for Democracy party. I fully support the Royal Thai Go Royal Thai Government in helping to bring peace and national reconciliation to Burma.
I am writing to you, the Prime Minister of Thailand, regarding with the situation of displaced Burmese people in Thailand -- especially of those Burma's ethnic minority refugees living in the camps at Thai-Burmese border. I have also enclosed the leter to His Majesty King of Thailand for your information. With this letter, I call upon you and Royal Thai Government to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to protect these refugese refugees. In particular, I urge the Royal Thai Government to (1) enact a legislation that is similar to 'Comprehensive Plan of Action' for Burma's refugees and (2) to hand-over the protection responsibility for these refugees to UNHCR.
I understand that the Royal Thai Government may have some concerns about the implication of UNited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees becoming involved in the situation of Burma's refugees. I, however, wish to point out to the Prime Minister that a similar refugee problem in Burma westerna western border has now been resolved by Government of Bangladesh with the help of UNHCR. I ask the Royal Thai Government to follow the same direction as to that of the Government of Bangladesh's and fully co-operate with UNHCR in solving these refugee problems. I also ask the Royal Thai Government to raise the issues of Burma's refugees and displaced people in Thailand at this 52nd Session of UNited Nations General Assembly.
I am concerned about the reported incidences of the Royal Thai Army is forcibly repatriating Burma'sng Burma's refugees and also of refusing entry of Burma's refugees into Thai territory. I am also very disturbed by some suggestions that individual Thai army officers may oppress or forcibly repatriate refugees in order to win business concessions from Myanmar Military Government. I appeal the Prime Minister to look into such matters and to put restraint on such activities of those army officers in doing business with Myanmar Military Government.
In closing, I thank Prime Minister for you kind attention to these matters.
Yours respectfully and sincerely,
Sd. U Ne Oo.
1. Mr Prachuab Chaiyasan, Minister for Foreign Affairs,Thailand.
2. Ms Sadako Ogata, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva.
3. Hon. Madeleine K Albright, The Secretary of State, U.S.A.
4. Mr Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia.
Letter to the King of Thailand
September 7, 1997.
H.M. Bumibol Adulyadej
King of Thailand
The Grand Palace
Thanon Na Phara Lan
Bangkok 10200, Thailand.kok 10200, Thailand.
I am a Burmese national currently residing in Australia. With this letter, I am making appeal to Your Majesty on behalf of Burma's ethnic refugees who are living in the camps.
Beginning in 1984, these refugees from Burma enter the Kingdom of Thailand to escape persecution by Burmese military. Over the years and recently in 1995 and 1997, many more Burma's refugees in total of 100,000 have to enter the Kingdom of Thailand in search for their safety.
These Burmese refugees are ingees are in need of help from the United Nations, not only in assistance of food and shelter for their survival but also to find longer-term solution for themselves: i.e. the refugees to be able to go back to Burma safely. The United Nations, thus far, is unable to help in this way simply because of the Royal Thai Government does not allow the United Nations to help our refugees. I, therefore, humbly request Your Majesty King to command the Royal Thai Government to hand-over the affairs of Burma's refugees to the United Nations. Nations.
In closing, I thank Your Majesty King for your kind considerations to this matter and especially your kindness shown to our refugees staying in your Kingdom.
Sd. U Ne Oo.
5/11/97:Post Script- Thai Businesses, Refugees and SLORCWhile there appears to be a range of Thai business interests currently within Burma - from Tourism Operations to Oil Explorations - our main focus of concerns in relation to refugees are that of logging and fishing venturesing ventures. The request has been sent to Royal Thai Government to raise the issue of Burma's refugees at this UNGA, the siutation in Thailand as of today is quite confusing because the current Prime Minister, General Chavalit, is reportedly tendering his resignation. Nonetheless, our concerns for refugees and the request to Royal Thai Government will still stand.
General Assembly is the Governments' Place
One of the major difficulties in raising concerns for refugees at the UN General Assembly has been the absen the absence of an official avenue for refugees. To my understandings, a legal framework to resolve the Burmese refugee problem is unlikely to emerge if the Royal Thai Government do not make efforts to raise this issue formally with the United Nations. The absence of such legal framework may, again, leave the refugees in Thailand into a vicious circle of neglect and oppression without the protection of UNHCR. The Royal Thai Government, at all level, must be urged to raise the refugee issue at this UN General Assembly. I certainlyrtainly have sent my appeal to Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Thai Ambassador to the United Nations.
Implications of the Pipeline
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit report (1st quarter -1997), Thailand must pay a compensation of US$470 million to TOTAL Group if the gas delivery is not made by mid-1998. It is of no doubt that the Royal Thai Government in recent years was drawn into securing the pipeline; which partly explain some of the RTG's treatment to Mon and Karen refugees around the pipelinhe pipeline area.
Our principal concern regarding the gas-pipeline is the possibility of large amount of money flowing into SLORC's coffer. The best solution, to my opinion, in regards to this problem is the United Nations to seize the monies and then use in refugee/humanitarian programmes in Burma. In order to do this, the Thailand must firstly allow the UNHCR to protect the Burma's refugees.
Doing politics is not about simply making protests
Everyone has own interpretation about 'Doing politics' and the meani the meaning of 'Unity in a political struggle'. In above mentioned situation of the sale of natural gas to Thailand, the political struggle is to control the flow of money to SLORC's coffer. If we can prevent the money going into SLORC's coffer, it is a Plus(+) for our struggle. More, if we can divert such money to the use of our people, it is a BIG PLUS(+ + +) for our struggle. Of course, myself, just one of the individuals within the movement, has only limited resource and influence. However, the Burma democracy movement in overall spectrum - whilst still in need of much consolidations - does have good influence to bring some positive results to the struggle. The unity in politics means that the meaningful co-operation between groups and individuals for the same cause/results. More co-operation amongst groups and individuals are still much required.
With best regards, U Ne Oo.