India is a democratic nation but it supports the brutal dictatorial regime of Myanmar more out of fear and selfish economic reasons than concern for upholding the principles of democracy. During the 1990s, as China began making economic inroads into Myanmar, the government of India reached out to assume a role in developing the rich resources of their neighbor to the east. A combination of fear China would become dominant on its border, a desire to tap the resources of Myanamar and concern for insurgent groups in its own northeast regions who had links to Burmese rebels led India to give whole hearted support to an oppressive regime.
However, despite this abysmal record of supporting a dictatorship, India has afforded refuge to over 50,000 Burmese refugees who fled to avoid oppression at the hands of Myanmar’s rulers. There are some reports, India quietly supports democratic opposition groups in hope one day they can gain power. The people of Burma suffer because India and China engage in power games to assert control in their land. Such is the manner in which powerful nations gain wealth.
Mae Sot, a Thai city on the border of Burma and Thailand is now home to thousands of the 2,000,000 people who fled war, violence and brutality in their native Mayanmar. Ma Nege, a 12 year old Burmese refugee girl, spends every day during the week working the garbage dumps in search of anything that could be transformed either into food or a product that can be sold. She scavenges amidst huge rats fighting them for a bottle or other plastic in order to sell them to recycling plants. Thousands of other Burmese work in factories where they are exploited by businessmen who can get away with anything since these refugees lack work permits. According to Moe Swet, a leader in Burmese refugee organizations, their lack of proper documents has “made them easy prey for unscrupulous businessmen and the police don’t do anything to protect them.” Dozens of bodies have been found in border regions, most probably people killed by traffickers or by businessmen seeking to get rid of evidence that might implicate them for brutality and exploitation.
The tragedy of Burma will not soon be altered. They are a people abandoned by neighbors in India and China who might take action to force the military junta to change its policies. But, the money obtained by outside corporations is too attractive to give up in order to assist unknown refugees.