Christian Freedom International (02/15/06) Ehe Blu Say, 15, was born in Ta Kra, Burma . He is Karen, a persecuted, mainly Christian ethnic minority in Burma . He and his mother fled to Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand when he was five. We moved to the camp because of the fighting. The SPDC was going to kill us because my father was KNU soldier so we had to flee to the camp, said Ehe Blu Say. My father disappeared when I was young. I dont know where he is.
The SPDC is an abbreviation for State Peace and Development Council, the self-imposed name of Burma s military dictatorship. The KNU is an abbreviation for Karen National Union, the name of the minority Karen government.
My mother could not support me and I wanted to get an education so she had me live in the Christian Freedom International orphanage in the camp. Last year I came to Christian Freedom International Vocational School in Mae Sot. I am so happy to be here, said Ehe Blu Say.
Last month I had to have my picture taken by the UNHCR for resettlement to another country, said Ehe Blu Say. My mother and I have been selected to be resettled to another country. My mother wants us to go. It is the opportunity of our lives.
Tens of thousands of Karen refugees are living in crowded refugee camps along the Burma/Thailand border–some for more than 25 years–in an attempt to flee persecution and genocide from Burma s brutal military dictatorship.
Persecuted Karen refugees may soon have the opportunity to come to America and other free nations.
The U.S. State Department has begun the process of allowing those refugees who want to come to America the opportunity to do so. Other Western nations are also opening their doors and following America s lead.
This year alone, more than 9,000 Karen refugees are slated for resettlement in America , with more to follow in subsequent years.
But Ehe Blu Say, his mother, and many other Christian refugees may not be going anywhere because bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security consider them to be supporters of terrorism.
Under a relatively new provision relating to material support in the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security may prohibit refugees and asylum seekers entry to the U.S. if they provided material support to anyone engaged in an armed struggle, like the Karen freedom fighters.
The KNU has been engaged in an armed struggle for survival against Burma s brutal military regime for more than 50 years. Now anyone providing material support for the Karens effort to survive may be labeled a terrorist by the Department of Homeland Security.
In fact, more than 100 Protestant Chin refugees from Burma , currently detained at immigration depots in Malaysia , are being denied entry to the United States because of the new definition of material support application by the Department of Homeland Security.
Under a current Department of Homeland Security interpretation of the Patriot Act, if anyone provides material support, such as food, medicine, clothing, or shelter to a participant in an armed struggle, the person providing the assistance would also be denied entry to the United States under the material support provision of the law.
However, when drafting the Patriot Act, Congress never intended the Department of Homeland Security to label innocent people as terrorists. Congress never intended to deny protection to refugees forced to defend themselves or who stand up to brutal tyrannical regimes.
Congress created an exception to the material support ground for inadmissibility. Congress gave the Executive Branch discretionary authority to determine that the material support prohibition should not apply in some cases. In other words, the intent of Congress was never for Department of Homeland Security to treat the actions of a George Washington or Paul Revere the same as an Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, even though they all engaged in armed activities.
Christian Freedom International urges all freedom-loving Americans to contact their members of Congress, President Bush, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State to allow refugees from Burma to be resettled in America . CFI also urges the Department of Homeland Security to properly interpret the law.
CFI has more information and a sample letter on its website for anyone to use when contacting their members of Congress.
According to Christian Freedom International President Jim Jacobson, Almost 200 years ago the Karen people received the Gospel from an American missionary. They fought courageously alongside us in World War II and share our faith, values, and love for freedom and democracy. They deserve our help. Jacobson also said, The Department of Homeland Security must not label innocent people as terrorists. If this policy is allowed to stand against Karen refugees, this will have chilling ramifications for all freedom-loving people.