Suu Kyi Visit leaves a bad taste

June 2 – Author: Saw Poe Taw and Karen News reporters, Posted in Articles, Recommended | Tags: ,

Suu Kyi at Mae La

Thousands of Burmese people living and working in the Thai border town of Mae Sot say they are bitterly disappointed they did not to get to see their hero Aung San Suu Kyi when she visited the area today.  Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate was in the region to visit Mae La refugee camp, to meet ethnic leaders later in Mae Sot and was expected to visit Mae Tao Clinic.

At Mae La refugees lined the small laneways between the bamboo huts that Suu Kyi’s convoy passed through on its way to the camp’s hospital.

A teacher in the camp told Karen News that people waiting along the camp laneways and those gathered at the football field constantly chanted Suu Kyi’s name.

“People were disappointed. Some began to worry when they couldn’t see her. Some wondered whether her visit was bad – did it mean she was discussing sending refugees back or was she there to fight for them?”

Refugees dressed in their traditional clothes, danced traditional dances and beat traditional drums all to no avail.

The camp leader told Karen News that he was unhappy, as he was unable to talk to Suu Kyi or to give her information on the situation in the camp.

“I wanted to ask her to talk to the refugees and to encourage them to keep going until they could safely return to their homeland. I wanted to ask her to do something about the food rations as they have been recently cut.”

Another member of the camp committee said, most of the question Suu Kyi asked was answered by staff from the Thai Ministry of Interior.

“The MOI gave a presentation and we were locked out of the discussions.”

On her arrival in Mae Sot, Suu Kyi was immediately taken by Thai authorities and driven the 67 kilometres from the airport to the refugee camp where thousands of refugees on the camps laneways and at football field had gathered to meet the pro-democracy leader.

Disappointed refugees who had waited for hours at the camp’s football said they were unable to see Suu Kyi, as Thai security officials surrounded her. Some said they manage to see her wave from inside her car.

International journalists claim Thai authorities tried to lock them out of the event and Karen News is led to understand only five local media organizations were given permission to cover the news event.

Meanwhile massive crowds of Burmese factory workers, mothers and babies, sick people, migrants, school children and people from Burma lined the walkways of Mae Tao Clinic from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon in the hope that they would get to see and hear Suu Kyi speak.

The Clinic in expectation of Suu Kyi’s visit cut tree branches, fixed potholes and dis a general clean-up of the immediate area.

A medic at the Clinic told Karen News how disappointed people were.

“She only had to come for a minute. It was terrible sad. Factory workers took the day of work, mothers carried their babies in the hope of seeing her and school children made signs and dressed in their uniforms.

The people love her, but today their hopes were dented by her not showing up.”

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Published by Karen Women Organisation

The Karen Women Organisation was formed in 1949 and has a membership of over 64,100 women. KWO is a community-based organisation of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and women inside Burma. Since our formation in 1949 we have expanded our focus from one of purely social welfare to try to encourage an awareness of Women's Rights and to promote women’s participation in the community decision making and political processes. The objectives of the KWO  To assist women in the endeavour to be free from all forms of oppression.  To promote and empower women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards.  To encourage women to participate in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality.  To develop women's knowledge, ability and skills, including political and organizational skills.  To achieve the rights of women and equal status with men.  To promote and maintain Karen culture and traditions.  To improve the well-being of women and children and to increase their access to adequate health, education and welfare services. KWO aims to empower women through offering various capacity building trainings to teach skills, build confidence and create new opportunities so that women will be better able to solve problems. We are working hard to educate ourselves and our communities so that we can work more effectively and advocate for our struggle on the international stage. We believe that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.

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