This story is so disturbing and something that should not happen to any individual. The Thailand government has been detaining individuals in a refugee camp for over five years without trial, with no access to the outside world, and under deplorable conditions. This article will discuss the rights of refugees and what needs to be done about this situation that has been going on for far too long.
What is a refugee?
According to the UNHCR, a refugee is “someone who flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence”. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. There are an estimation of 15 million refugees throughout the world and 98% of them do not receive any type of protection or assistance (UNHCR).
The rights of refugees
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all individuals living within or outside a country’s borders are entitled to basic human rights. These include:
- the right to life and liberty (Article 3)
- freedom from slavery (Article 4)
- protection from torture and cruel treatment (Article 5).
The 1951 Refugee Convention expanded on these rights by defining who was a refugee, clarifying the rights of refugees, and stating that countries have a responsibility to protect them.
In Thailand, refugees from Burma are being denied to human rights. Because of their lack of citizenship in a country. These people are often captured at the border and held indefinitely without a fair trial. Some stay for as little as one day while others stay for as long as five years. Many of these individuals are even deported back to Burma where they face persecution and death (UWCHR).
Why are people fleeing their homes in the first place?
The people trying to escape the refugee camps are often fleeing their homes due to persecution, violence, and civil war. Human rights violations are common in Burma. Because typically only one ethnic group controls the government and military (UWCHR). A new law passed by Burma’s ruling military junta has further segregated many ethnic groups and increased tensions within the country. The people in the Burmese camp in Thailand are often arrest by Thai police or military officials and then deported back to Burma (UWCHR).
Who is responsible?
Many governments around the world need to increase their protection of refugees and help them escape persecution. Unfortunately, Thailand falls under this category because these refugees are being denied their basic human rights. When they capture refugees, they are often torture by police and military officials. Since these individuals do not have any legal representation or even knowledge of why they were detain to begin with. They are at a complete disadvantage (UWCHR).
How can we help these people?
As an individual, one of the best things to do is inform other people about this horrific situation. By increasing awareness, more people are likely to support these refugees. People can also pressure their own governments to increase their protection of refugees by signing petitions and attending protests. Finally, individuals can volunteer at refugee camps that help protect human rights or donate money to non-profit organizations that are trying to help refugees (UWCHR).
The plight of refugees all over the world is often overlook because they are not citizens of any country. Although there are legal protections for these individuals, many governments do not enforce them. As an individual, you can help by informing others about these people’s plights and pressuring your own government to increase its protection of refugees.