June 20, 2014 |
SITTING IN HIS little souvenir shop on 3rd Street between Market and Chestnut in Old City, Selvadurai Pathmathasan said he's thankful that his "dream business" has stayed afloat. The Sri Lanka native known to customers as Bob, 42, came to this country 15 years ago (first living in New York, then Wilmington, Del., and now Philadelphia). While in the U.S., he was granted asylum based on his being part of the ethnic-minority Tamils, who faced persecution and violence in Sri Lanka, he said.
October 20, 1991 |
Sigmund Tobias was 6 when he first stepped foot on the dock at Shanghai. It was the summer of 1939. A Jewish refugee from Germany, he was struck first by the diseased bodies strewn along the narrow streets like so much garbage. "People would call the hospital to come pick them up, but whoever called had to pay for the trip," said Tobias, 58. "You soon learned that no matter how unpleasant it was, you didn't call. " In 1988, when the tall, bearded professor of educational psychology at the City College of New York returned to Shanghai as a visiting professor, all vestiges of the Shanghai of his youth had been erased.
July 19, 1988
For years the administration has been urging the Soviets to allow freedom of emigration, not only for Jews but for anyone else who wants to leave. But in a bizarre twist, just as Moscow began opening its gates as urged, it looked like Washington was going to block the flow. Without any warning, the U.S. embassy in Moscow this month declared an across-the-board, three-month postponement on processing visas because the embassy was short of funds. This spelled disaster for 3,400 Armenians, Pentacostalists and a few Jews, who had already gotten permission to leave.
August 7, 1986 |
On the banks of a turquoise sea, behind a long, low barbed-wire fence, lies a city built of bamboo huts and expectation. Since 1979, almost 30,000 Vietnamese refugees have passed through this place to walk down streets split in two by open sewers, to make their homes in huts papered with old magazines, to listen to the raspy chorus of a dozen cheap transistors, and to wait for letters telling them that they can go. For some, those letters never...
June 24, 1986 |
An Anglican priest in a white parish said yesterday that he faced government prosecution if he did not evict blacks who took refuge in his church after their shanties at the Crossroads squatter camp were burned down in recent fighting there. Also yesterday, the government dropped charges that had been lodged against the last four defendants in a treason trial and expelled a correspondent for Newsweek magazine, offering no explanation for either action. The Rev. Geoff Quinlan, in a telephone interview from All Saints Church in the Cape Town suburb of Plumstead, said he was served with a summons for purportedly violating a law that prohibits blacks from living in white areas and was told he would be fined $120.
December 10, 1987 |
In El Salvador, Luis, now a refugee living in Media, was a welder and labor organizer. In April, Luis' union activities became so dangerous that he and his wife, Sonia, were forced to leave the country, crossing the Mexican border after, he said, they were threatened by the Salvadoran government. Asked what action the government would have taken had he remained in El Salvador, Luis, 31, flicked a finger across his neck. "I would have been killed. " Sonia and Luis, who don't reveal their last names, were introduced at a gathering featuring a community leader from their country at the Swarthmore Friends Meeting last Thursday.
May 5, 1995 |
It has been 40 years since Cuong Pham has been home to his family's small village, nestled in bamboo groves outside Hanoi. Along the way, home has been Saigon, Guam, and now, South Philadelphia. But his first home in the United States was Fort Indiantown Gap, the sprawling military base surrounded by forests and hillsides in Pennsylvania farm country. Pham, 63, will return to Indiantown Gap tomorrow for a bittersweet 20th reunion of many of the thousands of Vietnamese refugees temporarily housed there after the April 30, 1975, fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. And as he and other older Vietnamese did when they arrived at "the Gap," a National Guard and Army Reserve base at Annville, Pa., Pham will be thinking of his homeland and the people he left behind.
March 23, 1992 |
A tear rolled down Anowa Meha's cheek as he looked back across the Naaf River at his homeland, quite certain he would never set foot in Burma again. He was first off the boat, wading barefoot into the Bangladeshi mud with all his possessions stuffed into a burlap sack and two baskets on a shoulder pole. And now he squatted on the shore, looking back, his emotions plainly expressed by the stain on his dark, leathery face. "I cry for my village and my house," said Meha, 68. "It was my father's and my grandfather's house.
November 29, 2013 |
Americans are a generous people. During the holiday season, we are busy buying gifts and donating to the needy. We were quick to write a check or text funds when a typhoon struck the Philippines. But this Thanksgiving, I can't help wondering why the biggest humanitarian crisis in a decade is getting so little attention. I'm referring to Syria, where nearly one third of the population, almost 7 million people, has either fled the country or is displaced and struggling to survive inside Syria.
January 19, 1989 |
Sopaal Caan is not certain her 6-year-old son, Keo Long, will go back to the Cleveland Elementary School after he recovers from the bullet wound in his stomach. "He told me he is afraid," Caan, 44, a Cambodian refugee, said in the little boy's hospital room yesterday. "He is afraid that another man will come and kill him. " Throughout the large community of Southeast Asian refugees here, children and their confused parents, who came to this country to escape the persistent violence of their homelands, were trying to come to grips with Tuesday's horror.