EI TU TA, Burma-At 35, Naw Win Schwe has already lost more than she cares to think about. During a government military offensive near Mon township in March, Naw Win's husband Maung Thanlwin was arrested and killed by Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Since then she has also lost her home, land and almost everything she and her husband had once owned. Eventually she was forced to flee for her own life as well, which is how she ended up in the Ei Tu Ta refugee camp on the eastern edge of Burma's Karen state.
Signaling a potentially momentous change in its foreign policy toward Myanmar, Thailand's new Energy Minister Piyasvasti Amranand has said he intends to reassess, and possibly abandon, the previous Thai government's controversial joint-plans with Myanmar's military junta to build five hydroelectric dams along the Salween River. More recently, Thailand's new Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram echoed those sentiments, telling news reporters in Bangkok that Thailand's 'cosy' commercial relationship with Myanmar is at an end. However, Nitya went on to say, "Some of the discussions relating to energy cooperation probably will continue," though he declined to give further details.
Thailand's Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) was recently assigned the task of repatriating 4,500 ethnic Hmong living in Phetchabun province-and they were told by caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to find a solution to the problem as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in this case, a 'quick fix' just isn't feasible.
After receiving a new home and a chance to start over in southern Thailand, Suphanee Tapsunthorn is moving forward. She is thankful that she still has her life and her five children to comfort her and even allows herself a wary smile. But Suphanee is also living in a constant state of fear. Deep down she feels that nothing can ever truly compensate her for all that she has lost.