Saturday, 22 March 2008

Bush Administration to Ease Terrorism Exclusions in Refugee Determinations

Bush Administration to Ease Terrorism Exclusions in Refugee Determinations
AP reports that the Bush administration is shifting policy to allow foreigners who have aided armed groups not considered terrorists to seek asylum or resettle in the United States. Hundreds of foreigners already in the country - including some who have been held for months or years in detention - claim to have been forced to help violent groups. Many are fleeing violence from the groups they were forced to assist. Tens of thousands of others, living abroad in refugee camps and elsewhere, also would be affected by the plan to ease restrictions set after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The applicants will have to show that they were forced to provide the support or did so "under duress" to be granted asylum or legal permanent residency. They must pass other intelligence and background checks as well. Human rights, refugee and conservative groups drew media attention to refugee cases affected by the anti-terrorism laws following Sept. 11. The USA Patriot Act and REAL ID law, for example, prohibited asylum for a Sri Lankan fisherman who paid a $500 ransom to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who had kidnapped him. Click here for the full story.
Here is the official "Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff ON THE INTENTION TO use DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY for MATERIAL SUPPORT to terrorism" on which the AP report presumably was based:
The United States of America has a great legacy as a welcoming nation to legitimate refugee and asylum seekers from around the world. Indeed, America has traditionally welcomed more refugee and asylum seekers than any other nation in the world. The federal government has upheld that tradition while working hard to eliminate the risk of unintentionally admitting a potentially dangerous and fraudulent petitioner in a post-9/11 world. A select group of foreign nationals have been unable to pursue the protections provided by our refugee and asylum laws because they have been uniquely victimized by terrorist groups. This group as a whole does not represent a threat to our homeland security. I, therefore, will exercise my discretionary authority to permit consideration of applications for refugee status, asylum or adjustment of status from some who have provided material support to groups while under duress. I have also decided, in consultation with the Departments of State and Justice, to exercise my discretionary authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to not apply material support to terrorism provisions to those seeking asylum or adjustment of status that have provided support to eight groups. They are: the Karen National Union and Karen National Liberation Army, Chin National Front and Chin National Army, Chin National League for Democracy, Kayan New Land Party, Arakan Liberation Party, Tibetan Mustangs, Cuban Alzados, and Karenni National Progressive Party. The material support to terrorism exemption will apply to individuals who do not represent a public safety or national security risk to the United States. In addition to exempting from the material support bar eligible individuals in these two categories, the federal government will also seek legislation from Congress to further expand our discretionary exemption authority. We are deeply committed to ensuring that those who deserve humanitarian relief from our immigration system receive it, and that America continues to be a beacon of hope and protection for the persecuted.

Traveling around on Arakan by Joshua Williams.

My wife and I were on an indirect United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Myanmar, formally known as Burma. We arrived at Bangkok airport at 1:30 AM and had a seven hour layover before our flight to the capital city Yangon. With no where to sleep we found a small secluded corner next to an unused conveyer belt where some of the airport workers were taking a nap and called it a night. Early the next morning we grabbed a snack and headed to our departure gate for mystical Myanmar, the land of the golden pagodas.
Upon arrival to Yangon, we decided to take a short flight up to Sittwe , historically known as Akyab and the capital city of Rhakine State. We decided to go there as it is one of the least visited areas of Myanmar. SIttwe, at one time, was one of the largest ports used by the British when they occupied the country in 1826. This was also the area where fights were instigated by the Burmese government between the buddhist and muslim communities in order to create unrest. This upheaval started in 1978 and flared up again in 1988.
While waiting for our next flight, we looked into exchanging money for our journey. One of the difficulties of traveling in Myanmar is that you cannot use ATMs, Traveler Checks, or Credit Cards. You can only pay with cash. This is due to both international sanctions, along with the isolationist policy of the government. We started asking around to find the black market exchange. There were people everywhere ready to make a deal. This is indeed the best way to get money. The official exchange rate at all the government run banks is much less than the actual rate on the street. The best exchange price is still found in Scott Market in downtown Yangon, but being 20 minutes away and needing to catch our flight within that time, it was not an option.
After exchanging our currency, we had to go outside the airport to get to the departure terminal, to buy our tickets to Sittwe and to catch our flight. We got our first sense of Burma at this time. Hot, humid, tropical, and smiles everywhere. We bought our tickets, and we were on our way. Once in the air, we could really see the beauty of the countryside. Our flight took us along the coast and above the Arakan Yoma, a mountain range that runs down the length of Rakhine State. Before we knew it, we were flying low over the water of the Bay of Bengal heading for a little air strip that seemed far too small for any plane to land.
Sittwe to Mrauk-UOnce we touched ground we were whisked into the security area where our paperwork was checked multiple times. We were not alone. There was a French couple and a Dutch couple whom also arrived on our flight. It seemed most of us wanted to head up the river delta into Mrauk-u. Mrauk-u is the ancient capital of a kingdom that was set-up by the Rakhine king Minzawmon. An early Dutch explorer in the 17th century described it as one of the richest cities in Asia and compared it to Amsterdam and London in size and prosperity.
The highlight of a trip to Mrauk-u is the many stone pagodas. These temples seem to dot every hilltop, and dominate the small village that is modern day Mrauk-u. To get to this ancient and mysterious town, one needs to travel by boat for 4 plus hours up the Kaladan river. There are roads that go to this town, but foreigners are not allowed to travel on them. Unfortunately the reasons for this has to do with the uprisings caused by the government. One of the main issues with traveling around Arakan state is the fact that you are not allowed to go many places without special government permits.
We decided to split a shared boat with the Dutch couple. It started to get dark after only a few hours of hanging out on the boat and talking to the captain and his helpers, who by the way were wonderful people. We navigated up the channels with a small flashlight that one of the young workers had. He shinned it up the river, ahead of the boat. We could barely make out the other side of the bank. I was praying that the captain had known this stretch of the river since childhood. It took many extra hours of creeping along the muddy rivers and creeks before we made it to our destination. It was 11 PM when we finally made it to a small dock. We were greeted by a couple of young tuk-tuk drivers and started heading towards the small village to look for a place to stay.
Mrauk-U:After a sound sleep, we woke early the next morning ready for a stroll around the town and the many temples. Shortly after leaving the hotel a teenage boy approached us. He wanted to wander around with us and practice his english. We were more than happy to accommodate, and started our adventure.
Never being ones for staying on the main trails, it was not long before we found ourselves transported back in time, wandering around the small villages outside of Mrauk-u. The area was devastatingly poor. I still cannot believe the warmth and happiness that flowed from the locals living in these conditions. It was not long before we had a small crowd of children following us, as we were now the local entertainment. We were approached by a really nice older lady with a huge cigar dangling from her mouth. The people of Burma have a love for cigars and smoking. In the past, their smokes were actually made of betel leaves, which are mildly addictive and act as a stimulant. The lady wanted us to look at her handmade textiles. We purchased some from her and other local ladies we met on the way. This was our way of putting hard currency back into the local economy.
Throughout the day we had many interesting conversations with our companion, learning about his life and about the area. The surrounding villages had seen so many hardships with the fighting between the buddhist and muslim communities. At one point it had gotten so bad that they were burning down each other’s food stores and places of worship. Perhaps one of the saddest destructions was the razing of the Sandi Khan mosque in September of 1996 by SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council), who used the rubble to pave roads between new military base camps in the area. The mosque was built in 1430, by the Arakan King at Kawalong and was one of the reasons that we travelled to this area. We had hoped to find what remained of this historic mosque.
Throughout the morning I asked many people about it and where the ruins lied, but no-one seemed to know, or maybe they were unwilling or unable to tell us. I later found out after talking with some local muslims, when we were back in Sittwe, that there was nothing really left to see and that most mosques outside of Sittwe had been damaged or destroyed. This has played into the government’s hands, as they require permits in order to build or reconstruct places of worship ensuring that they will not be fixed.
Needless to say Mrauk-u turned out to be a wonderful place. The people were extremely warm and kind. The second day we were there, we even had our own private escort following us around town. One without our knowledge, or so he thought. A man in his mid forties thinking that he was being clever, had been following us for the past couple of hours. As soon as we knew what he was up to, we decided to have a little fun with him. We headed into the busy market and ducked in and out of the small alleys and vender booths trying to lose him. Twice we thought we had succeeded, but there he would be again. This guy was good. Eventually we headed towards a practice match of a local game called Chinlon. There was quite a crowd gathered.
Chinlon is a game that consists of a dirt court and a net suspended about 4 - 5 feet in the air. A woven rattan ball must be kept off the ground at all times and hit over the net using only ones head, legs, and feet. This sport is kind of a mix between soccer and volley ball, but on speed. The crowd kept getting larger and larger. We found out the match was between the two top teams from the area. Our minder was still watching us from across the playing field. We ignored him and had fun observing the game and talking to the locals. The players seemed excited to have us interested in their game. They even showed off for us with some impressive scissor kicks that sent the ball screaming across the net. This was great for it made the game action packed. Even our watchman seemed to be enjoying himself. We noticed that he disappeared soon after.
The next day was our departure morning. With day break barely arriving, we woke-up and were met by the same tuk-tuk drivers that picked us a few days earlier. A thick rolling fog was hovering over the entire town. Once down the hill, we turned a corner and came upon the early morning market just starting to pick up. It was an amazing sight. The air felt alive. The tulle fog looked mystical as it rolled around the streets and through the stalls. Fresh vegetables and meat were steaming in the morning air, and the smell of breakfast soup was strong in our noses. At this point I really didn’t want to leave, but our boat was scheduled to head back down river. We continued passed the market and down to the docks. We were ready for the next leg of our journey to Sittwe.
Sittwe:We arrived in Sittwe after a few hours on the river. We soon found a decent hotel and checked in. It was nice to put down our backpacks, it was hot out. We were hungry, so we decided to head out and look for a restaurant. We thought maybe we could rent a moto to help us get around town. On our way out we stopped at the front lobby and asked the staff if this was a possibility. While waiting for an answer, which ultimately was no, we met a Rakhine man by the name of Myo Min. He was friends with the hotel owner and was staying in the staff quarters on the first floor. He was the owner of a local tea shop. Before we knew it, he offered to lend us his moto. Trying to decide if we should accept or not he handed us two helmets and it was settled.
As always not wanting to stay on the main roads, we headed towards the border with Bangladesh. After an hour we were well out of town and into the small villages surrounding the area. We noticed many muslims known in this area as Rohingas. We no longer felt like we were in Myanmar, but in Bangladesh or some other country entirely. It was right around afternoon prayer, so most of the villagers were out on the street. The crowd was so thick, it was tricky trying to weave in and out of the people with the motorcycle.
On our way out of the village, we had to cross one of those small bridges that have planks laid out for your tires to ride on. I gunned the accelerator and hit a big bump just before the bridge. I barely kept the bike upright as I skidded across the planks to the other side. We continued down the small dirt road to the next village. I pointed things out to my wife, “Hey look at that neat temple or check out that nice river”. We soon came to a T in the road and I asked her which direction to take. I got NO answer. I asked her again “Hey Gulum, which way should we go?”. Still I got NO answer. At that point my heart sank. I looked back, and I was the only person on the motorcycle. “Oh no!” I thought. She must be in the river!. I Flipped the bike around cranked the accelerator and sped on down the road back towards the bridge. After a mile, I could see a large crowd walking down the road with her in the middle. Everyone was laughing hysterically. It turns out she jumped off the back of the motorcycle just as I was getting squirrelly. She figured I would have noticed and therefore stopped after I had crossed the bridge. She was shocked when instead I kept going. The villagers were amazed too and could not control their laughter. It was nice too see the villagers having such a great time at our expense.
The sun had started setting low. We decided we needed to start heading back before it got too dark. We encountered a few road blocks on the way that we had somehow missed earlier. I don’t think we were supposed to be this far from town. We had to turn around a couple times and found trails to bypass the checkpoints. Before too long we were back at the hotel hanging out with Myo. He invited us for food and took us to his tea house. That evening we shared some stories while eating fried eggs with toast, and drinking a few too many beers. That night we learned that Myo lived in Sittwe his whole life and his father was a police officer in the Shan State. From what we could tell, his father was not very happy about his position. Another government practice is to place people from one ethnic group in charge of another, leading to some level of insecurity that plays into their hands.
The next morning we decided to visit the main mosque in town. We were greeted by the imam and his family. He was a very kind elderly man. His hair and beard were dyed red. We noticed this to be common amongst the muslim men in Myanmar. After a bit of research we found out this is an old tradition of using henna and saffron to dye the beard red or yellow. The imam was very pleased to meet us, especially when he found out my wife was Turkish. He said that we were the first visitors for many months, the first westerners in years, and the first western muslim ever. This was hard to understand as the mosque was situated in a very beautiful, historical building. The building was in the process of going through restoration as it was attacked and set on fire a few years back.
The imam invited us to his quarters and offered us some coffee, which turned out to be hot chocolate made with goats milk. Once I tasted it and I became afraid. My wife despises milk since early childhood. Somehow though, she managed to drink it down like a champ. She must have been dying. The imam openly talked about the problems that the Rohingas had been facing. The arbitrary arrests and beatings, along with communal problems. It was sad, when he talked about the buddhist community you could hear the animosity in his tone. I could only image the hell one goes through to survive years of modern day persecution because of ones ethnicity and religion. It was afternoon prayer time. The Imam asked me if I wanted to join him and the others. I did.
That evening, we decided we would continue on the next day. Sittwe turned out to be a pretty small town and we had seen everything there was to be seen. There were other surrounding areas, but all would require jumping through bureaucratic hoops to obtain the right permits. Our next destination was going to be central Arakan, a town called Ngapali beach.
Ngapali and vicinity:After arriving in Ngapali we jumped on the back of a truck and headed down the beach. We noticed many expensive looking government hotels being built on the coast. We jumped off at the last guest house which was recommended for being family owned and run. This place was great. A couple of hundred yards down the beach from it was a large fishing village. I learned from one of the locals that every morning the fisherman unload the nightly catch onto large carts pulled by oxen. If this was true, then I must witness it for myself.
The next morning I got up just before dawn and headed down the beach. The action was just starting. I could see the lights from the first boat heading in through the surf. I soon learned that the men in the village do most of the fishing at night, and the women dry and process the catch during the day while the men sleep. They get up late each afternoon and get ready to head back for the next night of fishing. This is their daily routine and it was educating to see. Women were carrying large baskets packed for the markets on their heads. I walked out into the ocean to meet the boats. The men were unloading fish of all sizes. The small fish were on their way to get dried out in the hot sun for the day. They would later be sold. The larger fish were unloaded into the carts pulled by oxen, that would then be pulled to the market. It was an awe-inspiring site to see an entire village out working during sunrise above the crystal blue waters. The light was superb and the sights were numerous and breathtaking.
I went back and woke my wife up to eat breakfast. After we were done, we convinced our guest house to let us use one of their motos. We decided to ride it into the main crossroad town of Thandwe. This took about an hour. We walked around the town to see how it was laid out. The town was fairly small and we covered it in less than half an hour. At one point we turned down a small alley and stumbled upon one of the notorious prisons in the area. It was eerie how old and dark it looked. This place was really ancient and I doubt it was fit for human habitation. I felt a tinge of sadness for the people inside, as some of them were surely political prisoners from the surrounding areas.
We jumped back on our motorcycle and headed down the main road that went North South along the Arakan Yoma. We passed by farms and small villages along the way. After a couple of hours, we stopped at a small temple that also acted as a school. We were warmly welcomed by the local monks. They invited us to their quarters. They offered us fruit, cookies and drinks. Mind you, they also offered us coffee. This time it really tasted weird. I am not sure what it was. I could tell my wife was having a hard time. After each chug she would quickly stuff a cookie in her mouth. Later she told me that was really tough. We chatted with the monks about the area and about their lives. The told us they had not seen much outside their surrounding villages, as the people from their region were not allowed to travel with out official permission.
It was starting to get late, so we decided to head back to the coast. We passed a checkpoint. The guard must have been out napping somewhere when we rode through it earlier for we didn’t notice him and he seemed very surprised to see two foreigners on a motorcycle. He couldn’t really speak english so he quickly waved us back on our way. We guessed he most likely didn’t want to explain this to his supervisors.
Overland to Pyay:Well it was finally time to move on again. We chose to undertake one of the toughest overland journey’s of our trip to date. We were going to head 15 hours over the Arakan Yoma mountains to Pyay. We were told many horror stories about this trip from people we met on the road, but that wasn’t going to deter us. This was a great opportunity to see part of the country that many people have never experienced.
That afternoon we jumped on a small bus that was heading to Thandwe. It was a beautiful drive through the rolling hills of Arakan. We were accompanied by 10 locals. We soon realized that most of them were not used to riding in vehicles on these windy and bumpy roads. 30 minutes into the drive, a lady in her sixties, sitting in the row next to us started to turn pale. Before we knew it, she started projectile vomiting everywhere. She almost got the backpack of a man from Berlin, who was sitting in front of us. He looked mortified and quickly helped by handing her a plastic bag. At the same time, all the locals on the bus rushed to give her their own personal remedies of pills, snuff, and scented perfume to help ease her pain. These seemed to help, as soon after she fell asleep. This was when hunger hit us. We pulled out one of the energy bars we had brought with us. The heat had melted the chocolate and peanut butter into mush, but hey it was food. As soon as we started to eat the bar, I realized that the old lady had woken up. “Oh no”, I said. All the lady needed was one look and she started into another vomit session. Man did we feel bad. That would be the last we ate on this road trip.
We soon came to a bus stop, where we changed to a slightly larger bus. This bus would head the rest of the way over the mountain. At about 6 PM, we arrived in the last major town, the last stop before the long journey over the Yoma, called Taungup. Being told that we had 30 minutes before the bus left, we went to look for a restroom. The restroom ended up being one of the worst little plank shacks in the backyard of a decrepit mansion. An old man inside happily charged 5c a usage. We returned to the bus after about 30 minutes to discover that they had placed rice sacks down the entire center isle of the bus. Two full 50 kg sacks of rice stacked on top of each other from front to back. To top that off, they sold the rice sacks as seats.The locals sat cross legged, all in a row with each person’s crossed their legs behind the other person’s back. Talk about uncomfortable, but this didn’t seem to phase them one bit, as they proceeded to smile and make small talk .
After many hours of windy roads in the black of night, a few passengers getting car sick, and some faking it to make their friends jump, we stopped at the main army checkpoint at the top of the pass. It was 1 AM and the place was jumping like an after bar party. The entire population of this small way station was packed into a little tea shop watching the Manchester United football game on satellite TV. Where the heck were we again. I could not believe how serene this place was. There we were next to a line of buses, waiting for our paperwork to be checked out, and it was freezing cold. There was a large bonfire on the side of the road where many locals were huddled, trying to get as much warmth as they could. Bright light were streaming out of the tea house and the sounds of cheering was flooding into the mountain air. My wife and I quickly joined the locals huddled around the bonfire. They were happy to let us squeeze in and seemed very amused that we were there. We made a few hand signals to show our appreciation and everyone seemed genuinely pleased and all enjoyed a good laugh at the two foreigners squatting local style next to the fire.
Wanting to explore the area, we decided to check out the game in the tea shop. We gulped down a couple of steaming sweet teas and ate some rice with currants in it. I can’t express enough how enchanting the setting was on this lonely mountain pass. One that we will never forget. Before long the bus was ready to go again. I realized that there were a few of the bus occupants that were not being allowed to continue. The lack of freedom of movement once again reared its ugly head. We take so much for granted back at home, but it takes trips like this to realize it. A couple of hours later, we arrived in Pyay which is famous for having one of the largest golden temples in the entire world outside of the one in Yangon. It was 3 AM by now. We had been traveling for over 13 hours. All I could think about was the bed that I would soon collapse onto, and who had won that football match that was being played in England, and being broadcast to a remote mountain way station from another time. From the sounds we heard pouring out of the tea shop as the bus was leaving, it must have been Manchester United.

Sittwe Rocks by Robert Reid.

I have a new favorite city
A scrappy port town near Bangladesh, where the wide muddy Kaladan River mixes with the Bay of Bengal, Sittwe is not loved by most visitors. Getting here means a full-day boat ride from an already-isolated port town Taunggok – or an hour flight from Yangon or Thandwe, which I opted for. A couple hotels, powered round-the-clock by generators... don't expect a fan to be blowing after 11pm. It's a diverse place – something like 25% of the locals are referred to as kala (outsider, or foreigner), in this case meaning Muslims. Some are descendants from the nearby Arakan Kingdom of 'Monkey-Egg' (Mrauk-U), who came from today's Bangladesh as archers for a religion-tolerant king. Others are more recent arrivals – people without a nation, called outside Myanmar as the Rohingya. Nearly everyone who passes through, takes a quick taxi to the jetty for a (sometimes leaky) boat ride six or seven hours to Mrauk-U. But I had a hard time leaving. Despite its remoteness, Sittwe is not exactly unknown. During September's protests, something like 20,000 locals – most of whom are Rakhine (or Arakan), a ethnic group similar to, but distinct (very), from the Burmese – followed monks down the main road (Main Rd) and past the new government-built clock tower to the City Hall, where they shouted for democracy. No deaths occurred. One local told me, "Half of the soldiers were Arakan. We heard them warn to Burmese solidiers, 'if you shoot, you'll get my peanut" (meaning bullet). No shots were fired. My timing coincided with Arakan State Day, "a government-made holiday," one Rakhine local said dismissively. Still I went to Lakandaya, a shimmering gold zedi visible from the plane on landing (it's just after the octagonal prison if you're on the right side of the plane), where thousands of monks holding brown umbrellas, kids in t-shirts, and men and women in longyis stood on tip-toe, or climbed trees, to look over a mass of spectators at a couple traditional Rakhine events. The first was a team of bare-chested men, with their longyis wrapped into something like a padded Speedo. They climbed a greased-up bamboo pole standing at least 30 feet, to retrieve a white flag at the top. One by one, the teams would climb on each others' backs on hold on desperately to the pole, then eventually slide after making it 15 or 20 feet up.
A local I met said, "Come, wrestling's about to start. I got VIP seats." We breezed past the uniformed police and into padded armchairs in a shaded makeshift 'bandstand' looking over a round sand pit where two men kicked and grabbed and slapped at each other. There is no three-second pin in Rakhine wrestling, or fancy costumes. They took turns as an 'attacker' or 'defender,' with the simple goal of knocking the other down, however briefly. A local translated the hilarious trash-talk dialogue of the middle-aged MC with a mic and a serious look. "He's saying, 'The Sittwe guy is no good. He has cold blood. He better get it hot or he's going to lose!'" Soon he was slammed to the ground, the other picking him up and helping him brush off dirt. Some would walk off the ring arm-in-arm. Before crouching in the shade to watch other matches, wrestlers would circulate through the bandstand to collect 'prize coupons,' simple white pieces of paper you could purchase for 50 or 100 kyat (about $0.04 or $0.08 each) and give to the wrestlers, win or lose. The MC said: "Please give coupons to the wrestlers to promote our traditional sport! These guys are very poor. If you can't give there won't be anyone to play in the future." I gave. A local told me, "The best wrestlers are from very small villages – the guys here from Sittwe always get beat badly." Soon cleared-out seats were emptied. Across the ring, where locals held up hands to block the sun from their faces, were being made to sit by police in army helmets. Then the green-uniformed man in glasses and a frown rushed in to sit up front, alongside a plump-bottomed woman in a floral dress. "He's the regional commander of the military – not a good guy," one local whispered. How does it make you feel seeing him so close? "I feel like arresting him and executing him," he laughed, only half-joking I think. The military officers here are nearly all Burmese.
Later I rode with one guy I met along the Strand Rd at low tide as dusk approached. Groups of locals played soccer in the black sand offshore. Strand Rd ends at a stunning point – labeled View Point – where they charge you $1 or so to take pictures. The Sittwe local drove to the nearby navy base, locked up and restricted, and asked if we can go in to access the black-sand beach that faces the sea, and where a tricky undertow takes a few lives annually. And we rode along it for a sunset ride.

The next morning I woke early for the stunning fish market on the water in the center. it swarmed with shoppers. Trishaw wheels bumped tenderly into my shoes, and locals carrying huge baskets filled with rice or dried fish or vegetables bounced past me. At the end of the market is a wild fish market, with decapitations-in-progress. One group circled a giant eel, which was being unceremoniously de-gutted. 'You! Here!' They beckoned me closer to take a photo of the suspended guts – something very valuable around here. Nearby dried sharks and barracuda hang under a high-ceiling market, and dozens of just-caught sting ray lay on bare concrete.
I walk into a crummy looking export company, where tiger prawns were being packed "for export only – people here are too poor to buy." A thin gray-haired man with a funny beret and deeply sun-darkened skin walks up and hands me a pink piece of paper with Arakan writing. "It's an invitation to play golf," one worker explains. "I like golf," the bereted man manages, not one to let lack of language to stop a conversation. "But I don't like playing on the military course." I risk a recommendation, suggesting he could defecate into the hole so the officers behind him would get a surprise. He laughs loudly, nodding. "Yes! Very good idea!"
Author:Robert Reid.