Khin Lunn in the camp. Photo courtesy of the author.
On July 12th, we published an interview with Burmese poet and journalist Khin Luun. He is living in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border after fleeing arrest by the military intelligence. He describes his existence in the camps as a “living death.”
Hopefully, that will soon change. Khin Lunn told Sampsonia Way that he sent the interview to Phone Kyaw, a friend living in Australia who has been trying to sponsor Khin Lunn so he can be resettled there. According Khin Lunn, his friend sent the interview on to John Hyde, a member of State Parliament and convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of Burma in Western Australia, an organization of politicians who support democratic causes in Burma. (A covenor is somehow who “convenes” an organization. It is roughly the equivalent of a committee chairperson in America.)
Hyde wrote a letter in support of Phone Kyaw’s sponsorship of Khin Lunn. Hyde, who has visited the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border, wrote in his letter, “The people of Burma are denied essential human rights such as freedom of speech and association, both of which Mr. Lunn has been denied and has resulted in his exile to Thailand. Australia has recognized this and the Commonwealth should be lauded for having increased the number of available visas for refugees from Burma.” A letter of support from a member of parliament can make a big difference in a resettlement application.
In 2008, Australia granted over 13,500 visas on humanitarian grounds, some 2,400 of those were granted to refugees from Burma. Hyde said the number was increased after the Minister of Immigration to also visit the camps at his urging. Some 160,000 people live in the camps in makeshift housing, unable to work or move beyond the camps’ razor wire fences.
Applying for resettlement is a complicated process and it may be some time before we know if Khin Lunn request will be approved. We will try to keep our readers informed as Khin Lunn’s situation develops. Although Hyde didn’t confirm that he learned of Khin Lunn’s situation through our interview, this story shows the importance of reporting on Burma and it’s deplorable human rights record.. We encourage you to learn more about Burma in our current issue.
Read Elizabeth’s bio.