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May 30, 2024

Dancing with fire in limbo: the consequences of Myanmar migrants' ambiguous legal status in Thailand with Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe

Event Date: May 30, 2024
Event Location: 409 Tier Building, University of Manitoba | Zoom Webinar Available
Event Time: 10:30 AM - 12:00PM CDT

The Department of Anthropology and the Centre for Human Rights Research is hosting a lecture with Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe.

Image featuring housing on a hill in Myanmar.
Image: Myanmar, Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe.

Dr. Soe’s presentation explores the challenges faced by Burmese refugees in Thailand, who navigate the precarious circumstances of displacement and legal ambiguity. Drawing on social science research, it examines the drivers of forced migration from Myanmar, including the intensified civil war, persecution of ethnic minorities, and economic hardship. In Thailand, these refugees are officially classified as “illegal migrants,” leaving them in a state of limbo without access to essential services and vulnerable to arrest and deportation. Simultaneously, Burmese nationals face pressure to conform to their communities’ expectations regarding political activism and in-country revolution. The presentation emphasizes the importance of understanding these complex realities through a social science lens to inform holistic, rights -based approaches to development policy and practice. By advocating for legal recognition, refugee empowerment, and research-informed strategies, this presentation highlights the transformative potential of social science in shaping policies that bridge the gap between displacement and belonging, positioning refugees as agents of change.

Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe is a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. Currently, he serves as a Senior Consultant at the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), dedicated to assisting Myanmar migrants in Thailand. Additionally, he provides support to the Karenni State Interim Parliament (KSIP) in the capacity of a Technical Advisor. 

Dr. Soe earned his PhD from the University of Sydney, completing his thesis in 2019 on “Influence of Donor Aid Policy on Disability Inclusion in Myanmar.” This underscores his commitment to promoting inclusive practices within development sectors. He was the recipient of the Australia Awards Scholarship in 2014 and the Australia Leadership Award in 2014 and 2015. 

His areas of expertise encompass disability and social inclusion, human rights and minority rights, local governance, and federalism. Following the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, he actively contributes political analysis and commentary to media platforms, advocating for human rights, inclusion, and federalism. 

Dr. Sai Kyi Zin Soe

Poster of Lecture featuring headshot of Dr. Soe and text describing the upcoming event.

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