Interview With Pan Tha

[Pan Tha is the husband of Nange Shwe, so his questions were asked with her answers in mind]

Why did you choose to try to move to Thailand when the SPDC (Burmese military) moved your village?

We had to move to either a cease-fire area or a relocation area. In the relocation area I would have to work for the army (SPDC) 4 days a week and have no time to make a living. I fled from the relocation site to Thailand. But in Thailand I found it difficult to make a living because I do not have an identity card and cannot speak the language, so I could not find a way to live, so I came to this camp.

In this camp they provide rice, but it's not enough for us because we have to find money to buy cooking ingredients. We have to find food by ourselves.

Did you actually go into Thailand to find work, or did you stop at this village?

When we got to the border, some of my friends said it is difficult to get an identity card for Thailand, so we stopped and came here.

How does one get an identity card?

[Sai Sem: The identity card is issued for different people that come into Thailand. They are issued for 5 or10 years at a time. They just issue them to the people who have a person who can guarantee them...]

Like an employer or...

[Sai Sem: Yes.]

Do you know why the SPDC (Burmese military) moved your village?

The reason is the SPDC soldiers suspected we supported the armed resistance, so they wanted to cut the connection between the armed groups and the villagers.

Your wife said you got here by car. How did you get a car? I'm curious about the trip here.

I know one friend/driver, and I told my troubles to him. He felt kindly to us and drove us to the border.

Do you think that you also want to stay in this village as long as you can find food and money?

The first thing is security. If we have security here (from the SPDC), then it's alright to stay. The second thing is to have food to eat.

What are your plans for the future?

My former work is as a farmer. I fear in the present time, I have no idea what work I can do here.

[to Sai Sem:] I guess I don't understand much about farming. Is it not possible to clear this land and farm- could he do that, or am I missing something?

[Sai Sem: (pointing towards Thailand) This forest is under protection by Thai Forestry, so they could not clear this side. (now pointing to the Burma side of the ridge) This side is OK, but not so far from this camp because of the security. They do not know when the SPDC will attack.]

Are you worried about the SPDC attacking this camp?

[Assistant to the village headman interjects: Now we have peace; we can live peacefully here because no one attacks us. We cannot see the future. So it means we don't have a clear future. We don't know.]

Is there anyway for you to get information from your old village, from your old friends? Will you ever find out what happened to them?

I have heard nothing.

What do you hope for your children when they grow up?

I want a chance for our children to learn. If we have a school and the children can learn, when they grow up they can look after themselves or us.

Is there anything you would like to ask me?

What is your name?

[Whoops] My name is Ken. I come from America, from a state called California on the west side of America.

We need clothes and food and work.

We're working on it, and we'll try to do something for the children.

Can you find a safe place for us so we cannot be attacked by the SPDC?

That's a very good question. I think we're all looking for that right now. [Bad answer, I know, but what do you say to a question like that?]


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Page Revised 5/30/00