A young boy in Thailand is an absolute whiz at making paper aeroplanes. It’s his great passion in life. So good at it is he that he won the Thai national competition in 2008 and was invited to compete in the international Origami Airplane competition at Chiba, Japan.

You’d like to think that Thailand would celebrate its young people who excel. However, 12 year old Mong Thongdee (หม่อง ทองดี) was deemed a “threat to national security” by the Interior Ministry and was denied papers to travel. You see, Mong had the misfortune to be born in Thailand to migrant labourers from Myanmar and is considered a stateless person.

Mong Thongdee, a treat to national security
Mong Thongdee – a treat to national security

It took the personal intervention of the Prime Minister to persuade the Interior Ministry to change its stance, and Mong has now been granted a temporary passport so he can take part in the event. And, all being well, he’ll go. And I hope he does well for Thailand.

A boy of his skills could perhaps, in the future, be a great engineer or designer. However, Thailand will never benefit from his special talents. He’s on the list of stateless people to be repatriated to Myanmar on 28 February next year. There he and his family will face the tyrannical oppression of the junta faced by others of his ethnic group – a tyranny close approaching ethnic cleansing.

Sadly, this tale will have no happy ending.


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