Another night bus from Bangkok… another night in the freezer. At least this time my contact in Bangkok bought the tickets so we had front row seats as opposed to the usual place for Farangs at the back right – just above the engine. The excitement of being back so close to home for the first time in years must have proved too much for The Secretary Generals teeth as Day 2 was spent undergoing emergency root canal surgery in Bangkok. Thanks to Bumrungrad International hospital in Bangkok it was a relatively pain-free experience – an amazing hospital. We also had dinner last night with some very special friends indeed (who cannot be identified due to their profile) and continued in accompanying us for a very quick low profile trip to Mae Sot – something that had been planned for some time and was pulled off without anyone knowing or realising… other than of course the people they had come to meet.
First stop was naturally to swing by the AAPP office to check in and catch up with everyone. The 10th Anniversary is tomorrow and final preparations and practice of the performance was underway. Also the new museum has been finished and it looks great (more photos available soon).
It was also great to see Thiha again (pictured above with the 10th anniversary t-shirts) – our close friend and former political prisoner of 17 and a half years and very much an integral part of the team on the ground here in Mae Sot. Initially we had plans to photograph about 5 or so new arrivals in Mae Sot plus trips back to both Umpiem Mai and also Nupo refugee camps to also photograph about 20 new arrivals but also to start work on documenting the current situation for former political prisoners and the mess that is the resettlement programme. But it’s way more than a mess and will be a whole blog entry on its own at some point in the coming weeks once we have got some of the work done – in a nutshell the situation is perilous for many former political prisoners who basically aren’t recognised as refugees and so are left in a state of flux faced with the very real danger of being returned to Burma… where of course the regime know exactly who they are and would send them straight back to jail for very lengthy prison terms.
The late afternoon and evening was spent with our special friends who accompanied us for a 24 hour visit – we visited the places and met the people we needed to. I’m hopefully it will be very fruitful for the future for all concerned – we have some great plans but above all it was a real honour and wonderful experience.
So here we are back in Mae Sot for the 3rd time in just over a year, but this trip is by far the most important to date. There’s a trip in to Burma planned for this project… Months of planning now lie in the hands of fate and the ever changing daily situation inside the country. Silence is Golden but now the silence can start to be broken and in part will be revealed in a UK newspaper on Saturday 24th April (full details to follow).
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