On February 15-16, 2016, US President Obama hosted 10 government leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a summit in California.
For decades, the US has continued to forge closer ties with ASEAN. However, most of ASEAN’s members have extraordinarily poor human rights records. Problems include lack of basic freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, failures on women’s rights, the political use of courts, high-level corruption, lack of protection of refugees and asylum seekers, and human trafficking.
Thailand holds thousands of migrant children in detention each year, causing them physical and emotional harm, Human Rights Watch said in a report released in early September. Child migrants and asylum seekers are unnecessarily held in squalid immigration facilities, suffering in filthy, overcrowded cells without adequate nutrition, education, or exercise space.
[ePrayer – Pray for the instability and cold weather in Thailand]
The anti-government strike has been lasting for two months in Thailand and the situation is becoming more intense, whether in terms of participants, scale or violence. Last November when the strike was at its preliminary stage, CEDAR staff and five supporters visited Northern Thailand. It was not difficult to recognize that local people are tired of the ongoing battle between political parties. They do not want to see people from the same country to start fighting each other and they long for peace and stability.
Ethnic minority groups living in Northern Thailand mostly are not registered and without land property. Even though they have lived here for tens years and bought the land they live and farm from local people, they have no legal security. As local government officers changed frequently, they will be posted away after taking office for only six months or one year. The additional problem of corruption has set back effort made in the land and residential registration by ethnic minority groups.
Besides the political turbulence, Northern Thailand is affected by cold weather recently. In some border areas temperatures are only 11°C in day time and below 10°C at night. However local families are used to warm weather and have little thick clothes. Some households lived in hut made by bamboos and wood which are not strong enough to resist the cold wind. Local Christian groups are now collecting blankets and thick clothes to give to impoverished families and new migrant families from Myanmar.
Meditate on Hymn:
“Prepare the Banquet”, a Chinese Hymn | Lyrics by Sanson Lau
How to prepare the banquet? For whom? For those who are poor? Destitute? Powerless? Painful? Will you care for them? Or express your sympathy? Will you prepare a hot meal for them? Or give them a cup of cold water? Will you bandage their wound? …
“Whatever you did for one of the least, you did for me!” The Lord Of All said clearly and surely! Present the best to the most powerless; receive them with hospitality.
Many ethnic minority families from Myanmar and Laos have moved to Northern Thailand to earn a living and find security. The way Christians in Northern Thailand served these migrant communities is echoing the teaching of this hymn: receiving the powerless and destitute with hospitality. May God teach and prepare us to present our caring, hot meal and medicines to the poor, the migrants, the least, the helpless.
Pray for the instability and cold weather in Thailand:
May God make an end to current strife and open a new way for Thailand to move towards peace and stability. Pray for upcoming election to be just, fair and peaceful.
Pray for God’s mercy to people affected by the cold weather in Northern Thailand, especially for the impoverished and migrant families. Pray that they can have enough thick clothes and blankets to resist the cold weather. Also pray for God’s protection to the elders, the weak and the young and infants.
Hit hard by hot and dry weather, farmers near Laos’s capital are looking for new ways to adapt to climate change and protect their cash crops as the temperature in recent months rose above 40 degrees Celsius. Weather experts say that irregular weather patterns since 2007 have caused the monsoon season in Laos, typically first seen in mid-May, to come as early as March or as late as June. A recent study on climate change in the lower Mekong Basin (including parts of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) identified climate change ‘hotspots’ where conditions will become unsuitable for crops currently grown there. The study projected higher-than-global average temperature increases in the basin (a 4-6 Celsius degree jump versus the global estimate of a two degree increase), which will mean dramatic changes in the comfort zone of crops. It could have serious negative consequences for the livelihoods, health and food security of the local communities in these areas.
Pray for Laos farmers:
Pray that the community can explore and adapt new planting methods, which can combat the negative effects of climate change.
Laos government is encouraging farmers to abandon pesticides and chemical fertilizer, and adopt organic farming. Pray that more farmers will support the government’s call and love the land resource. May God give them a secured livelihood.
[ePrayer – Pray for the migrant workers in Northern Thailand]
The National Verification Programme of Thai government, requesting local illegal migrant workers to verifying their identities has been finished. From Next February to May, the Burmese government will then start issuing temporary passports to those illegal workers in Thailand. The decision is part of the plan by Thailand and Myanmar to end illegal migrant workers from Myanmar. According to the Thai Labour Minister, there are 266,677 workers from Myanmar and Laos, did not verify their nationality to Thai government within the December deadline.
Pray for the migrant workers in Northern Thailand:
Pray for CEDAR’s local partner MMF as they provide legal support to Burmese migrant workers on issues related to work permits & registration, processing labour disputes and reconciliation;
Pray for Wisdom and protection on MMF migrant team as they made regular visit to give care, advice and counseling to workers in their homes and at their work sties. Many face family & social issues within the migrant communities;
Pray that 25 young migrant children at the Learning Centre will receive basic care and develop spiritually and emotionally.