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Karen Refugees to be Forcibly Repatriated to Burma

By Burma Partnership  •  February 3, 2010

Thai authorities have announced that they will begin repatriating up to 3,000 ethnic Karen refugees to a land-mined war zone, on 5 February. These refugees from Burma’s Karen State fled the SPDC’s offensive in June, and are currently staying in temporary camps in Tha Song Yang, Tak Province, Thailand.

The Thai authorities claim that these refugees are returning voluntarily, but in reality, these villagers are fearful of being forcibly returned to Ler Ber Her, which is in an armed conflict area where fighting could break out at anytime. Civilians will also be at great risk from landmines—just two weeks ago an 8 months-pregnant woman was seriously injured by a landmine in the same area.

Civil society groups have made urgent requests for the Thai government to halt the repatriation of these refugees, and instead continue to provide them protection in Thailand. Karen Women’s Organization and the Karen National Union have both issued urgent appeals to the Thai government, and Friends of Burma (Thailand) is gathering signatures for a letter to be delivered to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday, 5 February. Friends of Burma is asking individuals and organizations to add their names to the letter, by emailing them at fobteam2009@gmail.com.

With our combined strength, we hope to create enough public pressure for the Thai government to take the proper course of action, and stop the forced return of these Karen refugees.

Please also see below for details about a press conference in Bangkok about this situation.

To read the Karen Women’s Organization appeal, please click here.

To read the Karen National Union’s appeal, please click here.

To read the Friends of Burma open letter to the Thai Government, please click here for English version and click here for Thai version.

Press Conference: Calling for an immediate halt of forced repatriation of Karen refugees at Nong Bua and Usuta temporary shelter, Mae Usu, Ta Song Yang district, Tak province

When: 4 February 2010, at 11.00 AM

Where: 4th floor, Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, Rachadapisek 14, Bangkok, Thailand (Next to Summer Mansion)

Speakers:

1. Representative from Karen Women’s Organization (KWO)

2. Mr. Surapong Kongchantuk, Vice-chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities, the Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons; the Lawyers Council of Thailand

For more information please contact, Friends of Burma (FoB):
Aphatsorn (Ae) + 66 86 909 1238 , apassorns@hotmail.com

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