Conflict at the Thai-Myanmar Border
Updated: Apr 13
Last September while on a trip to Mae Sot, Thailand, I met an interesting family that had recently been displaced from Myanmar due to the ongoing conflict there. They were different from many of the refugees that I had met so far on my trip – they were fairly well-educated. I shared a meal with them after Sunday services at Mae Sot Evangelical Church and the older daughter spoke pretty good English and interpreted for the other family members. They were very guarded in their responses to many of the questions I asked, but I learned that the mother had been a teacher.
Later I asked our friend Kate about this family and she told me they were in hiding and could not return to Myanmar, or they would be arrested due to the mother being a teacher. I was not sure I had heard correctly. I can understand a former Government official being in fear of returning and being arrested, but a teacher! I realized that I had a lot to learn about this war and the refugees it has spawned.
A military coup that took place in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in February of 2021 was part of ongoing unrest and a civil war that spans over 70 years of Myanmar’s history. Over one million people have been displaced and nearly 3,000 have lost their lives.This last week there was a renewed attack on the Karen people that live in Myanmar, just across the Moei river from Mae Sot, Thailand. Just a couple of miles from where our partner Grace Boarding House, as well as Mae Sot Evangelical Church, are located. Around 10,000 people have fled their homes and braved crossing the river to an uncertain future and the relative safety of Thailand. Refugees live under the always present threat of being deported back to Myanmar.
A BBC article reports that since the latest coup in Myanmar in 2021, teachers have been one of the main groups targeted by the Junta (a military or political group that rules a country after taking power by force). They don't want any education except what comes from the present government and they believe that if they arrest all teachers outside of their people group (Burmese) they will be able to control the unwashed masses.
We have only seen this one BBC report on the recent military action by the Junta and the resulting human misery. Another good source of information of this latest incident in the years-long war in Myanmar can be found on the website of Free Burma Rangers (A wonderful organization that not only works in Myanmar but also northern Syria).
In 1948 the British left Burma (now Myanmar), a country made up of over 100 people groups. The largest and most well-educated group in Burma was the Burmese people, and ever since, the Burmese have been trying to exert their power over the other people groups. Three of the larger of these groups are the Karen, the Chin and the Shan. Most of the children and adults we minister to in Mae Sot are Karen and Chin.
I am so glad that the Lord has established Grace Boarding House in Thailand with the dynamic duo: leaders Shine Lin and Hine Pai. They have been doing as much as they can alongside others in their community to welcome and care for the waves of refugees pouring over the river into Mae Sot. They are helping to provide for their basic needs such as food, clothing and medicine, but most importantly they are sharing the hope of the Gospel. Please pray for the refugees as well as those working tirelessly to feed and clothe the masses. They are surely the hands and feet of Jesus.
If you would like to help rescue, house, feed and clothe the displaced people from Myanmar, I invite you to make a special contribution.
- Written by David Inlow, long-time CTL volunteer and supporter