Daily News- October 06- 2002- Sunday

  • Ethnic Karen, Mon told to hand in ID cards in Thailand
  • Infamous Burma Railway recalled

  • Ethnic Karen, Mon told to hand in ID cards in Thailand

    Source : Bangkok Post

    - -A thousand ethnic Karen and Mon in Thailand have been told to hand in their identity cards and household registration documents, less than a year after they got them.

    The villagers in Suan Phung district have asked the Law Society of Thailand and the Human Rights Commission to help. At a meeting yesterday, they demanded to know why the district had started taking back the documents.

    The villagers received the documents last year. District staff have started taking them back, with no explanation. Almost 140 people have returned their cards and documents, and another 850 have been told to follow suit. Karen and Mon make up most ethnic groups living in the district, which borders Burma.

    The Law Society will meet district staff next week.

    The villagers say that surrendering their papers could put the fate of their school-aged children in jeopardy. Their children could be asked to pull out of classes once the school principals found they held no documents. Surapong Kongchantuk, from the human rights body, said children had the right to education as guaranteed by the constitution. The Law Society would ask the Education Ministry for an assurance that the children could stay at school.

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    Infamous Burma Railway recalled

    Source : Sunday Times (Australia)

    - - Former World War II prisoner of war Eric Fraser said he turned the first sod of earth on the infamous Burma Railway 60 years ago.

    Last week was the 60th anniversary of the start of the railway's 14-month construction, which took a horrific toll on Allied PoWs.

    Mr Fraser spent nearly four years as a PoW working on the railway under brutal conditions alongside war hero Sir Albert Coates.

    The veteran, now 87, urged Australians to remember the 13,000 soldiers who died on the railway.

    The Burma Railway joined the Thai and Burmese rail networks through 414km of dense jungle and mountainous terrain to allow the Japanese to supply troops in Burma.

    Mr Fraser and his machinegun battalion were taken prisoner when Singapore fell to the Japanese on February 15, 1942.

    He carried water for the Japanese in a 44-gallon drum suspended from a bamboo pole. He was in bare feet and wore a loin cloth.

    On June 14, 1943, Allied bombers destroyed the Thanbyuzayat camp, killing 43 PoWs. Mr Fraser was transferred to the Khon Khan hospital camp.

    There he worked with Australian surgeon Sir Albert Coates.

    Mr Fraser saw Sir Albert amputate 120 PoWs' legs which were rotting from tropical ulcers.

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