THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF MON M0N INFORMATION SERVICE APRIL 25 1995 1.WHO ARE THE MONS? 2. GAS PIPELINE ADDS TO WOES OF MONS. 3. ETHNIC REFUGEES AND BANGKOK UNHCR4S POLICY. ***************************** 1.WHO ARE THE MONS? Concentrated between Burma and Thailand, there are an estimated 8 million Mons in the world today. Yet, their rights often go unrecognized. Like many indigenous peoples of this region, for the past forty years the central government in both Rangoon and Bangkok have ignored and attempted ethnocide of the Mon people -- who were the orignial inhabitants in the Burmese-Thai region. The Mon language is a distant relative of the Khamer (Cambodia) langauge group, having no similarities with Burmese and the Burmese alphabet is based on the Mon alphabet. After successive waves of Burman and Thai immigrations from the north in the last milenia, and after repeated attacks the kingdom of the peaceful Mons was defeated in 1757 and the higher culture taken as war booty to upper Burma by the Burmese king and many hundred thaunsand of Mon jhad been facing genocide. Meanwhile, in Thailand Mons were given speical areas to live and found sympathetic favor under the Thai king, himself a descendent of the Mons, mostly in areas around Bangkok's main river. Present Situation Today, however, the situation is radicaly different with assimilation rampant on both sides of the border. Centralization and capitalism are working hand in hand to annihilate all indigenous peoples. A planned gas pipeline from Burma's Gulf of Martaban will dissect Monland on its way into energy-strapped Thailand, and so foriegn policy in the era of "constructive engagement" does not favor the Mon people (as was seen by the recent Halockhani attack by SLORC troops and the Thai starving out of the refugees to return across the border). The refugee situation is increasing due to forced labor on "infrastruc- ture" projects in the area, such as the gas pipeline and the 110 miles long dead Ye-Tavoy railway construction. Villages regularly undergo forced relocation while harrassment, violence and pillaging continue under SLORC's reign of terror. Also, many Mons have been targetted for arrest in the Sangkhlaburi area and Kanchanaburi District, which is viewed as an attempt by the Thais to put pressure on the New Mon State Party to sign a cease-fire agreement with the Burmese military junta. One of the biggest problems for the Mon people is recieving outside information and spreading out inside information to international communities. Approximately 50-60% of the Mon people cannot read or write in Burmese, and less are able to use English. Thus access to much information is prohibitive, especially about health care, politics and international news. This is in addition to strict censorship controls and added ethnic suppression by the Burmese junta. For more information on the Mon, Please contact
MIS (NCM) GPO Box. 375 Bangkok 10501 Thailand. The New Mon State Party (NMSP): :Fighting against Burmese military junta by both arm struggle and political activities; Mon NAtional Relief Committee MNRC (MNRC): : Working for Mon refugees in the Thai- Burma border; Committee for Publicity of People Struggle in Monland (CPPSM): Mon Human Rights Group;
2. GAS PIPELINE ADDS TO WOES OF MONS. Mon refugees '' being harassed '' Bangkok Post April 23, 1995. MON refugees seeking sanctuary in Thailand from the civil war Burma are being harassed by Thai authorities to facilitate the construction of an oil pipeline between the two countries, according to US refugee workers in Bangkok and Mon relief officials. Pressure on the Mon, one of the many indigenous Burmese minorities involved in a five-decade crusade against the ruling Slorc (State Law and Order Restoration Council), has increased steadily since the Thai and Burmese governments reached an agreement on the passage of the natural gas pipeline through Mon territory, according to Phra Wongsa Pala, a Buddhist monk and chairman of the Mon National Relief Committee. Human Rights Watch/Asia reported in December last year that Thailand's treatment of Mon refugees" falls far short of international standards." In 1994 Thailand forced more than 6,000 Mon refugees back into Burma who were subsequently attacked by the Burmese military. The report suggests mistreatment of refugees in "almost certainly linked to economic and security concerns" about development projects in Burma, including the proposed natural gas pipeline. Unocal , a US company, is one of the companies named in the report as being involved with the natural gas project. Harassment now includes daily and nightly police raids on Mon temples along the Burma-Thai border, and persecution of the sick and disabled, the reports said. In raids authorities arrest men, women and children, torture victims, war-wounded, and seriously ill refugees, including those with UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) recognition, a special status accorded by the UN to political refugees, the reports alleged. There are also threats to repatriate all ethnic Mon Buddhist monks back to Burma. "Pressure is being placed on the little people," says Marryknoll Mission Association of the Faithful co-ordinator Vicki-Armour Hileman, of Davenport, Iowa, Hileman spent six years as a missionary in Asia including two years working with Mon refugees in Thailand. "The Unocal pipeline, which the Burmese are trying to force through Mon territory, would mean an economic boom for Thailand. By rounding up the helpless, they hope to force the Mon into signing a peace accord and agreeing to the pipeline," Hileman said. The Mon who occupy the area that is largely virgin jungle, are strongly opposed to the pipeline which they say will destroy their habitat, exploit their labour, and directly benefit the Slorc financially. They have voiced their opposition in several letters to Unocal. Repeated raids are spreading panic among refugees, many of whom have been tortured in Burma and are terrified of arrest. In the last year, three have been seriously injured trying to avoid the police. During an April 19 raid, Maung Kyan, a severely handicapped ethnic Mon refugee in need of serious ongoing medical treatment, was arrested by Yannawa police and put into detention with his wife and two small children. Maung Kyan and his family all have UNHCR status, which in most countries assured protection until a safe return to their homeland is possible. Thailand however, is not a signatory of the UN Protocol. Maung Kyan, who lost his eye-sight and both arms in a land mine explosion ten year ago, has recently had a cornea transplant and required daily medication and monitoring. The Mon National Relief Committee fears that without proper medical care and a clean environment, he could lose his eye. The US embassy, the UNHCR, and various refugee groups have expressed concern over Maung Kyan's welfare, but have been unsuccessful in obtaining freedom for him and his family. The Mon National Relief Committee had asked the US State Department and concerned US groups to call for his release and an end to the harassment of Mon refugees.
3. ETHNIC REFUGEES AND BANGKOK UNHCR4S POLICY MIS 24/4/95 Maung Kyan and his family all, however, have been recognized as concerned person by UNHCR, they will not accept any assistance from UNHCR. Only UNHCR branch office in Thailand have approved the border policy for the Burmese refugees, especially for the ethnic people, since 1993. Being Mon nationality, Maung Kyan and his family were covered by this policy and UNHCR do not grant any assistance including the medical treatmant. Bucause of his both arms and his eye-sight were lost by a land mine explosion, he is unable to work for his survival. He and his family took refuge in the Buddhist temple and supported by the Mon National Relief Committee. So many Mon refugees were suggested to go back to the border and received assistance there by UNHCR when they applied for refugee status. Even some former university students included in that policy and was organized to stay in the border. UNHCR does not care for their further education and future life. Therefore, for their daily food, they have to work in construction site and other illegal jobs. They were deported to Burma side after been detaining in the Immigration Detention Centre for several weeks if they were arrested. UNHCR can not do any thing and do not reconsider to withdraw the policy of border case and refugeestatus without assistance. This is only own dicriminating policy of Bangkok branch office of UNHCR. MIS - Mon Information Service. April 25 1995.