To the west of Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand is the frontier town of Mae Sot. There is a bridge between Mae Sot and Burma called the "Friendship Bridge," a rather cynical and ironic attempt at putting a friendly face on Burma. Tourists crossing the bridge into Burma are given a restricted, confined view of Burma, carefully out of sight of the horrendous atrocities occurring mere miles away. Naturally, Burma likes foreign tourist money as much as anyone, but they have done a first rate job of pulling the wool over the eyes of the West. The Friendship Bridge tour bears as much relation to reality as Disneyland does to East L.A. Human trafficking flows unabated between Mae Sot and Burma; countless sweat shops operate within a stone's throw of the bridge. There are also the EDP's, or Externally displaced persons. These are the Karen and other persecuted minorities who have managed to escape Burma, but are unable to obtain refugee status in Thailand. These are the prime victims of predators of every kind....and a far more dangerous existence than in the refugee camps.
In Mae Sot, it seems that everyone is either on the make or on the take.You need to be careful who you talk to, There are people with prices on their heads....especially if they are known for helping refugees.
Up Next: Some bright spots.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.