Human Rights Report Implicates Thai Army in Returning Refugees to Burma
ICC Note: This issue is one that ICC observed firsthand–the Thai Army illegally forcing refugees from Burma back into a warzone. This report is both disturbing and true.
4/1/10 Burma (KHRG) – On March 31st 2010, more than 700 refugees departed from two camps established for villagers that had fled to Thailand to avoid fighting and exploitative abuse in Pa’an District, Karen State during June 2009. The camps, which were home to more than 2,409 refugees just two months ago, are now empty; refugees have been departing in groups since the end of January, citing harassment and pressure by the Royal Thai Army (RTA). On the same day, a seven-year-old child from a family that was forced to depart the Mae U Su camp at the end of the 2009 rainy season was killed and his ten-year-old brother severely injured by an unexploded M79 round found outside their village.
In spite of repeated public and private warnings that refugees could not safely be returned to their home villages, RTA soldiers have continued to harass refugees and pressure them to leave the camps. While many of the families departing since February 2010 were interviewed by UNHCR, which has reportedly recorded departures as voluntary, many refugees made the decision to return only because of this pressure. Regardless of the context surrounding departures, the area of return remains dangerous and returned refugees are intensely vulnerable. The following report includes detailed information about the circumstances of the refugees’ departure as well as updated information about the human rights situation in the area of return.