Political refugee finds safe haven in Wrexham after fleeing death squad


Wrexham has proved a safe haven for a political refugee who faced death if he remained in his native Burma.

Khine Lin (corr), 35, plans to stay in Wrexham where he says people are so friendly and he feels secure.

He introduced dancers from the Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) to the hundreds of shoppers passing through the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham at the launch of Refugee Week and called on them to support their world-wide campaign for democracy in Burma and an end to the military regime.

Refugee Week, organised by Wrexham Refugee and Asylum Seekers Support Group, is part of Wrexham’s Year of Culture for which Eagles Meadow is the main sponsor.

“I am a co-ordinator for BDC and we are a global campaigning organisation,” said Khine Lin, who is one of only two Burmese refugees living in the town. “If I had stayed in Burma my life would have been in danger because of my support for the political opposition.

“I left behind my mother, father, two sisters and younger brother and we are not in communication with each other.

“People in Wrexham have been very welcoming and I feel safe here,” said Lin who is hoping to continue his writing.

Refugees are dispersed to areas in the UK designated by the Home Office and prepared to receive them – which in Wales are Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.

Siobhan Matthews, from the Wrexham support group, said: “We are trying with Refugee Week to raise awareness about the contribution refugees play in our UK society and life here in general.

 “We need to remember that refugees have been through a terrible time in their home country and that is the reason they are here. They have to prove to the Home Office that they are really in need of protection when they come here.

“Refugee Week also give refugees and asylum seekers the opportunity to meet members of their local community and share their stories and experiences. The chance to make friends is often uppermost in the list of requirements for a new arrival in Wrexham.”

Mark Hill Reynolds,a mature student at Glyndŵr University, who also helps at the Wrexham Refugee and Asylum Seekers Support Group, said: “We’ve had a really excellent start to Refugee Week and Eagles Meadow has really looked after us.”

Dancers from BDM also circulated amongst the afternoon shoppers collecting signatures on their petition calling for the restoration of democracy in Burma and recognition of its legitimately elected government and leader, Nobel Peace prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who celebrated her 66th birthday on Sunday (Jun 19).

Nando’s restaurant , based at Eagles Meadow, helped sponsor the day and while diners admired a wall full of genuine African art .

It’s a Nando’s project which provides artists in South Africa with materials and then buys back their works of art.

Manager Alison Hopwood and her team were helping serve 800 free burgers in the precinct with donations going to refugee related charities.

The drum beats of Batala Bangor could also be heard through Eagles Meadow at the launch. It’s a group which has evolved from Samba Bangor Community Music, which was formed in 1995 to promote the spirit of carnival and its associated arts in North Wales.

The Big Beat were four young men who were a big hit with the Eagles Meadow crowd. They have performed their mix of rock, soul, pop and blues all over the UK and even appeared at the Tsunami Fundraiser 2005 with musical legends like Eric Clapton and Jools Holland.

A football tournament will take place at Glyndŵr University on the Wednesday, and activities for children not interested in football will be available free of charge.

A night of African, Portuguese and other World music will be held at L’Etage on Thursday, June 23.

On Friday, again at L’Etage, ‘Skamambo’ from Poland will be providing live music and ‘Babyfather’ sound system from Trinidad will keep the dancing going into the early hours.

Another football tournament will be held at Ellesmere Port on Saturday, June25.

Also booked for the week is Tacsi Crew, a four-piece bilingual band from Anglesey. Also appearing are: Polish band Skambomambo, which fuses its own original brand of Ska with other genres like rock, pop, punk, and funk; and TrenchCity, The Ready Get Set and Future Fresh. 


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