The Nation: Call for an end to border conflict

We, as a Mekong civil society, wish to share our tomorrows peacefully and joyfully, and in doing so we believe that we will also have to learn to share our yesterdays.

The mekong Migration Network (MMN) is a network of civil society organisations from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan, China who have been working together for the last 10 years to promote the rights of migrants in the mekong region, through joint research, advocacy and capacity building.

The MMN has 37 member organisations, eight of which are from Cambodia and 18 from Thailand. As a part of the mekong civil society we are committed to promoting our cultural diversity and benefiting from the sharing of knowledge and wisdom. We are aware that for many years communication among civil societies in the mekong region was extremely difficult as conflict spread through the region; we share the sorrows our region has suffered.

We believed and hoped that our region was moving forward, was moving away from conflict and sorrow. But the situation today between Cambodia and Thailand is moving us back not forward.

The current conflict between Thailand and Cambodia has already claimed nine lives and displaced over 25,000 villagers. The mekong Migration Network is deeply concerned for the thousands of displaced Cambodians and Thais whose lives have been severely disrupted by the clashes between the two militaries, and whose safety and security is at great risk.

We also wish to express our concern that the actions and words by our governments have given opportunities to those who would like to incite hatred between the peoples of our two countries. This is a dangerous and sad situation and we are particularly concerned for migrant workers from Cambodia working and living in Thailand, who may bear the brunt of any xenophobic rage inspired by the actions of the government leaders.

We therefore call on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Prime Minister Hun Sen: to immediately halt all military offensives and to take whatever peaceful measures are necessary to resolve the current dispute; to ensure the security and safety of all displaced persons on the border; to fulfil their commitments to Cambodian migrants in Thailand; for the Thai government to ensure that the migrants are not victims of hate crimes, that they are not deported purely for being Cambodian, and that they can live and work in safety and security; and for the Cambodian government to ensure that migrants have access to consular services as needed.

Satien Than Phom

Mekong Migration Unit