Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thailand Forcing Karen Refugees Back to Burma

June 21, 2009

The Burma Campaign UK today called on the government of Thailand to stop forcing Karen families who have fled a new military offensive back into Burma.

According to Burma Campaign UK sources, 3 Karen families have been forced back into Burma, and others are being placed under pressure to return.

Up to 6,000 Karen have fled a new military offensive by the Burmese Army and its allies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. Most have fled to Thailand, and Thai authorities have been helping the refugees. However, now that there is less fighting in some places, Thai authorities apparently want the refugees to return to Burma.

“It is not just a question of whether or not there is gunfire and mortar bombs,” said Zoya Phan, International Coordinator at Burma Campaign UK. “The area that these people lived in is now under the control of the dictatorship, and any Karen returning will face the danger of severe human rights abuses. Only a week ago two teenage girls were raped and killed, one of them was eight months pregnant. Thailand must give the refugees sanctuary.”

More than 110,000 refugees are in refugee camps on the Thailand Burma border.

The Burma Campaign UK is calling on governments and the United Nations to put pressure on the dictatorship to end its military attacks in Eastern Burma, which have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. The Security Council discusses the protection of civilians in armed conflict when it meets on Thursday 26th June.