Some refugees fled Burma after the military’s violent crackdown on student protests in 1988; a few had fled fighting in Kachin State last year. Others said they had come to India to live freely and without harassment from the Burmese military government. All of them talked about returning, though.
∫The Yamuna Clinic occupies the second floor of a faded building in a dusty Burmese neighborhood in west Delhi. A dark cement staircase opens onto a balcony and a waiting room where about a dozen Burmese refugees sit on wooden benches.
Life for Burmese refugees is difficult in India. Because they are not citizens and are different culturally and linguistically from the local population, many are ostracized and persecuted. Travel costs, language difficulties, and the risk of lost wages from missing work prevent many Burmese from accessing healthcare.
In a statement issued on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration will designate Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), offering Syrians currently living in the US a chance to stay in the country while the Assad regime continues its brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement.
The Burmese government signed an agreement last week with the International Labor Organization to end forced labor in the country by 2015, but three years is far too long to wait.