On the morning of 1 February 2021 a coup d’état in Myanmar (aka Burma) began, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, were deposed by Myanmar’s military. Since then the Junta has committed Crimes Against Humanity. They have murdered, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, persecuted, and forcibly displaced peaceful protesters, activists, political leaders, and other civilians including women and children.
The Junta has a long history of committing atrocities against ethnic minorities. A United Nations fact-finding mission concluded in 2018 that the military’s campaign included “genocidal acts” killing up to 6000 civilians in a month.
Refugee flows are currently at the highest levels in history. Refugees already face perilous journeys, harsh living conditions in camps, and discrimination in host countries, but they are also at risk of a human rights violation too often insufficiently addressed in security and conflict prevention efforts: human trafficking.
Conflict-induced displacement increases the risk of trafficking. Capitalizing on their vulnerability, traffickers deceive refugees into fraudulent travel and employment arrangements.
Punitive immigration policies and lack of access to safe migration options further exacerbate refugees’ vulnerability. Many victims refrain from seeking assistance, fearing not only arrest due to their irregular migration status, but also retributive violence from their exploiters.
Without official documentation, access to resources, and awareness of their rights, they become easy targets of traffickers.
For survivors of trafficking the pain and suffering last long after being rescued. Survivors particularly those subjected to sex trafficking, often experience lasting stigma and marginalization. Consequently, women and girls may face limited employment and marriage opportunities, which fuel intergenerational poverty and isolation as their support structures unravel. By undermining community relations and development, human trafficking in displacement settings fosters broader economic instability detrimental to rebuilding and peacebuilding efforts. For us, it’s clear, that trafficking must be prevented.
Our team here at Chai Lai Orchid is Pga k’ nyau/ Karen, pronounced Kah- Ren (emphasis on the second syllable), indigenous to the Thailand-Burma border region. This is one of the ethnic minorities the military has been attacking since 1949. The military burns down the entire villages, destroying rice stocks and supplies. If the residents are able to escape, they go into hiding as Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the surrounding forest. Life as an IDP is extremely difficult and many people become malnourished. It is quite common for Karen people to have become IDPs several times in their lives. Some of our staff are from Karen state and some were born here in Thailand. Due to this conflict, thousands of refugees have crossed over to Thailand to seek safety. Karen is a Sino Tibetian language and Thai is our 2nd or 3rd language.