PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Van Sui Chin, a teenage girl living in the Czech town of Stara Boleslav, just outside the capital Prague, is an exceptional student. At the middle school where she studies, the 15-year-old consistently comes at the top of her class in almost every subject. She has received several academic awards, and for two consecutive years has been chosen to travel to Italy on excursions with two other very gifted students.
But Van Sui Chin is not Czech. Her family is from Hakha, the capital of Myanmar’s impoverished Chin State.
The story of how she ended up in the Czech Republic is a familiar one. In the mid-2000s, her father, Ngun Peng Siakhel, was arrested and sentenced to a week in prison for allowing an unregistered visitor to stay in his home overnight. He was released on bail, but decided then and there that he had had enough of Myanmar’s restrictive and repressive rules.
Deciding that it was time to leave the country for the sake of his family’s future, he traveled to Malaysia. Three years later, when she was six years old, Van Sui Chin and her mother and younger sister were smuggled out of the country to join him.
In 2010, after three years of living in Kuala Lumpur as refugees, the family was resettled in the Czech Republic. Despite the many hardships they had experienced in their young lives, Van Sui Chin and her sister, Sarah Mang Cin Tial, soon distinguished themselves as top students.
Their story is one shared by hundreds of thousands of families in Myanmar. Driven out of their homeland by poverty, oppressive laws, human rights abuses and discrimination against ethnic minorities, they have been forced to make new lives in foreign countries.
Read more: http://www.irrawaddy...eSpeed=noscript