Funeral Service Held For Chin Accident Victims In Thailand
12 June 2010: A ‘combined’ Christian funeral service was held last Saturday for 9 out of 13 Chin victims of the accident in a police-car chase in Thailand on 24 May 2010.
The Saturday’s service, led by a Chin Christian pastor and attended by some Thailand-based Chins and members of Raks Thai Foundation, took place on an ‘unmarked’ plot near the Chinese cemetery in Phetchaburi town.
Of a total 13 victims, only 9 bodies, which were picked up at the scene and kept at a Buddhist Temple, were interred in a Chin traditional yet Christian way and another 4, who died after being hospitalised, were consigned to the grave by the hospital.
It is said that the hospital does not allow any visitors to see the bodies but their remains might be available to be collected later after an estimated 2 years.
Kenneth Biak Cin, Chairman of Chin Community of Bangkok (CCB), told Chinland Guardian: “The funeral service went well. Our prayers and deepest sympathies are with each family. On behalf of CCB, I would like to say thanks to Chin communities, churches, organisations, and individuals across the world for their kind contributions towards dealing with this tragic matter.”
Despite the high cost, the burial plot where the bodies were wrapped up in traditional blankets and laid to rest was purchased after going through a layer of legal processes as it is a Chin traditional practice that a dead body is buried when a person passes away.
The Hospitalised, Detained And Deported
On the day that the accident took place, four seriously injured Chin victims were taken to Phetchaburi Hospital. Last week, two were discharged from the hospital after their recovery and detained at the Thai police lock-up.
As of today, two victims, Diana Ngun Hlei Sung, 19, of Vuangtu village, and Nang Len Cing , 25, of Tedim town, still remain in the hospital. “Their conditions are getting better and we hope that they will be fine soon. Please keep praying for them,” said Kenneth Biak Cin.
Victor Biak Lian of Chin Human Rights Organisation, who visited the Chin patients in intensive care at hospital on 28 May 2010, said in his email: ” Although seriously injured somewhere round her chest, our sister Nang Len Cing could speak but quite slowly. Diana Ngun Hlei Sung could not move, just lying on bed. Without any mark of injuries on her body, she was such in a pain as she was thought to have badly hit her head and neck.”
Diana was said to have had an operation on her neck.
Our brother, Bawi Ram, 14, of Bungtlang village, could speak but in a low voice and we could clearly see a very thick bandage around his belly and his left hand, Victor continued, adding: “Another teenage boy was in a rather serious condition. Even though he could speak to us, we could not understand what he was saying as he was kind of mumbling. He had got a serious head injury but we hoped he would recover soon.”
The teenage boy was later identified as Van Nawl Cung.
A total of 12 including children, who were not injured in the car accident, had been detained a lock-up of the Thai Police Station before they were last week deported to the Thai-Burma border, along with the two young boys discharged from hospital.
Visits and Prayer Services
With the generous help from members of Raks Thai Foundation in collaboration with Chin Community of Bangkok, the victims being detained and hospitalised were visited, given words of encouragement and looked after in any possible way.
The visitors were given permission to meet and talk with those being detained at the Police Station. Victor Biak Lian said he was really hurt when a 12-year-old boy asked in much anticipation for his younger brother and uncle.
“I looked at my friends standing beside me and their immediate winks made me understand the situation. And I told him ‘Son, don’t worry. We will look for them and let you know for sure.’ Clearly I could see from his face that he was in doubt. But he didn’t ask any more. Of course, his 2-year-old younger brother, Van Bawi Kil, and his uncle, Hmun Cung, died on the spot in the accident.”
Pastor of Chin Christian Fellowship in Malaysia, Rev. Lal Pek Lian, who flew from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand to attend to the situation, said on 3 June: “We were allowed to see and wash the 9 dead bodies that were kept at a Buddhist Temple. The bodies were wrapped up in our traditional shawls and a prayer service was held in the morgue.”
The names of the 13 deceased included 2 females and 9 males: Tum Zing, Van Nawl Cung, Biak Zel, Kil Lian, Siang Nawl Cung, Dar Sui and her son, Bawi Tha Ceu, 3; Hmun Cung and his nephew Van Bawi Kil, 2; Bawi Ceu Hmung, Tung Bel Lian, Ram Lian Thang, 5; and Peter Tawk Lian Thang.
How It Happened
A Malaysia-bound vehicle driven by a ‘paid’ Thai agent carrying a total of 29 Chin refugees including children as young as 2 years swerved suddenly, plunged 30 feet off the road and smashed a big tree as the Thai police signalled the car to stop between Phetchaburi and Cha Am provinces in Thailand.
One of the injured victims, Nang Len Cing was quoted by Victor Biak Lian as saying: “After staying in the jungle for about a week, we started leaving from a village called ‘Three Pagodas’, supposedly in Mon State bordering Thailand. When we entered Cha Am town, we saw a police car, sort of, signalling us to stop.”
“Instead of stopping, the driver sped up and in a moment, we heard a gunshot. Our car ran faster and the driver couldn’t control the car. After four or five zigzags, I could just remember the moment our car jumping off the road.”
I only woke up to see the police cleaning and wrapping up our bodies covered in blood, Nang Len Cing added.
It was later known that the police were shooting in the open air in a signal to stop the car.
The vehicle was said to have been broken into two pieces. Victor Biak Lian, who went to see the scene, alarmed: “When I saw the vehicle, I got completely gob-smacked, just wondering ‘How could 29 people possibly be crammed into this little car’?”
It is claimed that the Chin refugees from military-ruled Burma, who were allegedly being smuggled in by a group of ‘agents’, might have stayed somewhere in the Mon areas for more than one week, waiting for the Thai curfew to be cleared following the recent ‘violent’ demonstration in Thailand.
Condolences and Messages
Chin email groups are still besieged with an array of condolences and messages weeks after the Thailand accident that claimed a total of 13 Chin refugees’ lives with 4 seriously injured on 24 May 2010.
Chin communities and churches across the globe grieved over the accident victims, sent sympathies to the bereft families, held prayer services for those detained and hospitalised, and lent a helping hand by contributing both individually and collectively towards handling the ‘tragic’ situation in Thailand.
Words of thanks have also been sent to Chin Community of Bangkok, Raks Thai Foundation, Chin Christian pastors and other individuals based in Thailand for their ‘compassionate’ and caring services in this devastating time.
Van Biak Thang