March 10, 2007

One Culture, Identity and National Survival

A Conversation on Culture and National Survival

This is Neineh Plo of Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. I am new to this discussion group. It is my pleasure to be a part of you this way. I hope our meetings in this particular place will enrich our knowledge and experience, and bring us closer to our people and homeland.

I would like to thank the host of this Karen Issues for accepting me and signing me up to be a member. Thank you.

Regarding the stateless issues the young minorities or hill tribes of Thailand are facing now, I also want to share with you what I wrote to a good friend of mine a few days ago. It is not mainly the stateless issues of the hill tribes in Thailand. But mainly, it is about the plights of our people in refugee camps and their futures.

Neineh Plo

The letter follows:

I talked to some of my good friends in MHS the other day. We talked about our going "home" plans and then, more importantly, about the refugees and the Palat.

As you might have known, the Thai authority’s plan is that it has given the refugees three choices out of which they will have to choose one: to go to a third country, to return to Burma, or to remain in Thailand as the hill tribe people of Thailand.

I think you can pretty much imagine the consequences of each of these three choices. All the choices do not promise a future for our people and our current struggle.

Resettlement in a third country would give our people some sort of opportunities for education and business to live by. But in terms of "nationalism," I don't believe that our people in third countries will survive more than two generations. Even if they do, it will be very weak and dim, and would be able to continue no more than three generations. So, the first choice is not a good choice.

Returning to our country in this time of situation could mean a total vanishing of our people. We can be sure that we are not welcome by the regime for we would not bring any sort of interest it wants. Nowadays, our Karenni resistance movement is not as attractive to it as the KNU's or SSA's is. It is very unlikely that they would care whether we continue or cease fighting it. But this does not mean I have lost faith in my people’s struggle for freedom.

If a "democratic" government like that of Thailand could do such things to systematically eradicate the existence of our people, then the willingness of the racist, chauvinistic, and ethnocentric regime of Burma to do the same thing is out of question. Does my argument make sense? So, the second choice is not a good one either.

Remaining in Thailand with the status of hill tribe people would sound nice and practicable to uncritical ears. But carefully considering the plights of hundreds of thousands of Thai "hill tribe" people, it makes me so sad that our people could become one of them.

First of all, the so-called Thai hill tribe people who hold "green cards" as their identity cards are not considered the citizens of Thailand, and have a much lower class or status than the majority Thais who hold "white card", which indicate that they are "full citizens" of Thailand.

As a result, the green card holders are deprived of their basic human rights very systematically. For example, they cannot go to colleges within Thailand or even finish high schools because of their status. Another example: they cannot leave their townships or territories without the proper permission of their respective authorities who hold "white card." And, it takes a long time for them to acquire full citizenship.

Given these facts about these Thai hill tribe people, it would be so unfortunate for our people to become one of them. And, if we don’t have other choices but to become the hill tribe people of Thailand , then the result is that the survival of our people’s nationalism could end up the same way it would do in the third countries. So, the third choice is not good either.

Then, what is good for us? I don’t know. But I do know that I want to live, and I want my people to live - to live as a “nation,” free and full of dignity. To live as a group of human beings, enjoying all the rights given to us as human beings by nature. Thank you for your time with this long email. I appreciate it very much. My best wishes to you.


Neineh Plo


Anonymous said...

Hello Neineh Plo
1.If you are able to see your mean of "nationalism" survive not two generations, only one will be bless for you. I mean why don't you take the opportunity that you have to make your idea of "nationalism" to become true?
2.KNU or SSA are not attrative to the sight of the western than oil.
3.Why don't you just stay and protect your people and motherland instead of remaining so call thai's "hill tribe"

Saw Saw

Anonymous said...

I think all of you should
appreciate you are out of the
jungle, and camps. Study so as to get good paying jobs. Then you can make your Karenni and Karen plight known world-wide. There are many who have not had the luxury to be here in the USA

The converation of decention between you all on culture or nationalism is not worth your time now. When one comes to America
they are expected to assimilate.

All of those before you have done this within one to two generations
However, they like Chinese, Italians, and Mexicans have given
America their culture especially
in food. Today Pizza, Tacos, and
Chinese food is as American as apple pie, and baseball.

You identity and survival has survived a 60 year armed conflict.
with three generations in camps.
What is the question?

Anonymous said...

Freedom isn't Free

While you enjoy America this
February 2008, and watch the political debates. Please remember
there is nowhere in the US Constitution for these rules

Anonymous said...

Is there any reason you do not have
one Caucasian, or one Native American on your list of R&R's
who fought for freedom?