Migrant voices: Illegal abortion among women from Burma working in Thailand

August 7, 2012

WCRP: One month ago, Thai Labor Minister Padermchai Sasomsap proposed a plan to send pregnant migrant workers in Thailand back to their home countries to give birth[i]. The Minister introduced the initiative as an effort to curb child trafficking, but migrant and human rights organizations quickly came out in opposition to what they consider to be dangerous discrimination. In addition, the news touched on the long-standing issue of illegal abortions in Thailand, which, while not completely understood, are alleged to be prevalent among the migrant community. In Mahachai, Thailand, a booming industrial city with hundreds of factories and an estimated 400,000 Burmese migrants, the staff members at local medical clinics describe the frequency, motives, and dangers behind the hidden trade in illegal abortions. Read more

Villagers forced to porter and labor for soldiers in Mon and Karen States

July 31, 2012

HURFOM: Although the new civilian-led government and ethnic groups have signed a number of ceasefires in 2012, many civilians continue to experience violations caused by military presence in their villages. Since March, residents of two small villages in Karen and Mon States have been forced to work as porters, carrying heavy loads for the troops, or forced to labor on military plantations. Read more

Military, not security: Forced sentry duty in southern Ye Township

July 25, 2012

HURFOM: In two small villages of lower Ye Township, Mon state, resident military battalions are forcing local people to serve as sentries to protect the community perimeters from attack. Despite village security falling under the troops’ authority, the area’s ongoing violence and extortion committed by Mon armed splinter groups has resulted in the soldiers renewing an 8-year-old custom of substituting local civilians for military guards. The villages, unable to afford the exorbitant demands of the Mon splinter groups, remain vulnerable to attack in retaliation for nonpayment, and the military is unwilling to fulfill its role as village protector for fear of assault. Villagers are saddled with the triple threat of roving armed groups, violations committed by the military and depleted income from work hours lost while serving sentry duty. Read more

Child sufferers of dengue fever pack Moulmein hospital

July 24, 2012

HURFOM: Since last month, the American Specialist Children’s Hospital in Moulmein has been overflowing with children stricken by dengue fever. The hospital, which mainly treats children from Mon State, is managing a dengue outbreak that has resulted in rooms crowded with child patients, overfull treatment areas, and frequent bed sharing. Children between the ages of three and ten are the most common victims of the disease, and there may be little respite from sickness until the rainy season concludes. Read more

Women in Mon State eagerly join Shin Saw Puu Association

July 23, 2012

HURFOM: Women across Mon State are actively applying to the Shin Saw Puu Association for Mon women, founded earlier this year. The Association is rapidly attracting new members, and women report their perception that the group is a sincere effort toward developing women’s leadership skills and financially assisting poor women and youth education. Despite the membership fee of 1,000 kyat per month, women from urban and rural areas alike are readily signing up. Read more

Forced relocation looms over 80 households in TPP

July 16, 2012

HURFOM: According to HURFOM field reporters, military authorities in the Three Pagodas Pass (TPP) area plan to reclaim land they previously granted to conflict-affected people in order to expand their current military base. Authorities from the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No.284 called a meeting with local residents on July 8, 2012, to announce the obligatory relocation of more than 80 households by November of this year. Read more

Reports of child trafficking and abuse prompt educational workshop on the border

July 13, 2012

HURFOM: On July 7, local health and child rights organizations jointly offered a child trafficking workshop in Gu Bao village, located in the border area of Three Pagodas Pass Township.  Reports surfaced in the village that incidents of child trafficking and abuse were imminent, and the workshop was quickly mobilized in the hopes of stopping violations before they occurred. The event welcomed about 80 attendees, and aimed to create awareness about child protection laws and facilitate an open community forum to share opinions and concerns. Read more

Local Residents Face Continuing Land Abuse In Kaw Thaung

July 12, 2012

HURFOM: Military authorities continue to commit land confiscation violations against residents of Kaw Thaung Township in Southern Burma. Locals often lack critical information about their rights and relevant laws, and the military is still perceived to act with impunity in cases of land disputes. The impact of land confiscation is not merely an affront to law, but also presents severe challenges for residents who depend heavily on their lands and plantations to earn a living. The country’s policies are undergoing change, but communities will not experience reform until locals are protected from destructive land seizure practices. Read more

Donor cuts nearly shut down middle school in refugee camp

July 11, 2012

HURFOM: Earlier this year, the sole donor of a middle school at the Bang Ton Yan refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border cut two thirds of its aid, nearly shutting down the school. The Thailand arm of the ZOA International had previously supported everything at the school from books to pencils to teacher salaries. In 2011, the donor cited a lack of funds and said they were unable to maintain previous levels of aid. However, ZOA also stated that by 2014, they plan to phase out their funding in Thailand to focus entirely inside Burma. These rapid and often unexpected shifts in donor funding are taking a toll on border communities, leaving organizations scrambling to maintain services or simply to keep their doors open. Read more

Pyin Nyar Ta Soung Education Center concerned for students’ futures

July 9, 2012

HURFOM: The education service center Pyin Nyar Ta Soung is concerned that children of the many ethnic groups living in the border town of Three Pagodas Pass are facing increasing threats to their education. The cost for attending“tuition,” a fee-based, after-school class, is higher than ever and many local parents are manual laborers who cannot manage the fees. Pyin Nyar Ta Soung, an organization established to promote education along the border, is opposed to the practice of tuition because teachers charge excessive prices and create an environment that forces students to attend after-school class because quality instruction is with held during regular school hours. Read more

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