News & Updates 13 June 2024

Myanmar: AJAR Commemorates World Refugee Day with Series of Events Highlighting Myanmar Crisis

Chiang Mai, Thailand, 13 June 2024 – Amidst the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, triggered by the military coup in 2021, millions have been forced to flee their homes, seeking safety within the country and across its borders. This dire situation deserves greater attention, and in the lead-up to #WorldRefugeeDay on 20 June 2024, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and its partners are holding a series of events throughout the month to raise awareness and understanding of the humanitarian crisis.

Ko Francis, AJAR Country Manager, opened the film tour reminded the audience, “It is only one day each year that we gather for this purpose but this one day is a doorway to the other 364 during which we will keep in our minds, our hearts and our actions the situation of all those refugees and displaced that desperately need our help.” He highlighted the film “Pomi Pothoe,” directed by Thai filmmakers, which exposes the reality of refugee existence often denied by governments. The film, he stated, uncovers the actual life meaning of refugees rather than just working on the outer-view of their lives

The first event is a call for solidarity along the Thai-Myanmar border and beyond. In partnership with the Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), a Thailand-based nonprofit offering alternative education focused on personal and societal transformation, we proudly present the #MyanmarFilmTour2024. Under the theme “Homesick,” the tour will feature film screenings about Myanmar to foster understanding and explore solutions alongside Myanmar refugees who have endured displacement for over three years since the coup. Many refugees have faced repeated displacement due to airstrikes and escalating conflict, while others have tragically lost their homes forever.

From 6 June 2024 until the end of the month, every week we will host screenings in community centres across Chiang Mai, Mae Sot, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Bangkok that end in Ranong, Thailand. A follow-up tour has also been announced to take place in Indonesia and France later this year. Following successful screenings in Chiang Mai and Mae Sot with strong participation from civil society organizations and the public, we invite you to join us in solidarity at upcoming screenings in your nearest city.

Our stop in Bangkok will also be marked with a panel discussion and art exhibition, titled “Compassion Without Borders: A World Refugee Day Event” that will be held on 20 June 2024, at Chulalongkorn University. The event is jointly organised with The Asian Research Center for Migration (ARCM) of Chulalongkorn University ARCM Thailand, The Rohingya Association in Southeast Asia (RAISA), Spirit in Education Movement (SEM) SEM, and Southeast Asia Junction (SEA-Junction).

The World Refugee Day serves as a crucial reminder to view the humanitarian crisis impacting displaced persons and migrants in the region through a human rights lens. Too often, refugees are reduced to mere subjects of policies, research, or aid programmes, their individuality and dignity overlooked. They are frequently portrayed as helpless victims, perpetuating a narrative of charity rather than one of respect, empathy, and agency.

We have learned valuable lessons from movements in Southeast Asian countries, particularly in Thailand, where solidarity and shared experiences have fostered a strong sense of community. The iconic three-finger salute, strategies for self-protection against excessive use of force from security forces in protests, and cross-border campaigns supporting democracy and human rights all exemplify the interconnectedness of struggles in the region.

In both Thailand and Myanmar, movements have demonstrated deep empathy and mutual support, recognising the common fight for freedom, democracy, and human rights against oppressive regimes. This shared spirit of resistance transcends borders and inspires individuals on both sides to stand together in solidarity.