Struggling to Survive on the Thai-Myanmar Border

Ten years ago, when he was 19, Myanmar government soldiers attacked Panyuk’s village in Myanmar’s Karen State, as part of a brutal campaign against the nation’s ethnic minorities. The soldiers, young men barely older than himself, killed his father and his uncle, and raped his mother. They destroyed the rice crops and burnt his village to the ground. Panyuk escaped into the jungle and joined the rebel Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

“After what I had seen, I knew I had to take action to protect my people. I had to take up arms,” he said.

He fought with the rebels until he stepped on a landmine planted by the military and almost died.  He lost both his arms and was blinded, and now, along with 45,000 other Karens who have fled Myanmar. he lives in the Mae La border camp, on the Thai-Myanmar border.

There are currently around two million people living in border camps, having fled Myanmar and the threat of armed attack, forced labour, conscription of child soldiers, and rape and torture by government troops. The arduous trek to Thailand has killed many more through malaria, food shortages,and the ever present hazard of landmines.

Thailand’s government offers official refugee status to less than one percent of asylum seekers from Myanmar. The illegal status of the rest makes them easy pickings for unscrupulous Thai employers, human traffickers and corrupt police who demand bribes to allow them to stay.

Once they arrive they are trapped. Their only route back to Myanmar is the fate they dread most: being rounded up and deported in cattle trucks by the Thai authorities to face certain imprisonment or execution back home.

  • Pray for the Karen people who face oppression and persecution in Myanmar, and for the many struggling to survive in border camps in Thailand. Pray that they will hear about Jesus, His Life, healing and loving grace.
  • Pray for Christians working amongst the unreached people groups in Thailand and Myanmar, for grace, compassion and wisdom and that the Love of God will flow through them.
  • Pray for compassion on the hearts of the Thai government to give recognition to the many refugees from Myanmar.
  • Pray for the Myanmar government to recognise the ethnic minority groups in their country and cease their oppression.

Proverbs 31 vs 8 – 9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”


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