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BKK Nation: Mon refugees "under pre

Subject: BKK Nation: Mon refugees "under pressure from Thai government"

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The Nation (Bangkok)
June 30, 1994
Burma's National Democratic Front (NDF) has accused Thai authorities of
trying to pressure the New Mon State Party to agree to a ceasefire with the
ruling military junta by threatening to repatriate Mon refugees living in
NDF general secretary Khaing Soe Naing Aung has urged Thailand and the
international community to use their influence to persuade the junta,
officially known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), to
make a political settlement with the ethnic minorities instead of arranging
separate cease-fires.
In a statement yesterday he said Mon refugees should not be forced to return
to Burma until it was clearly safe to do so.  Thailand should not use the
threat of refugee repatriation to achieve political goals.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said Burmese
refugees should be allowed to return voluntarily after the Rangoon regime
reaches agreements with the various parties.
Social aid workers report that in recent months more Mon and Karen refugees
have crossed into Thailand where about 72,000 Burmese refugees are already
living in camps along the border.  The influx is attributed to the threat of
being pressed into labour squads for railway and gas pipeline construction.
The NDF statement said that at the end of 1992 Thai authorities insisted that
the refugees from three camps near Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi
province must relocate to a new site at Loh Loe, about 40 km from Sankla Buri
The were assured they would not need to move again until it was safe to
return to Burma.  But in 1993, pressure was applied for the new Loh Loe camp
to be again relocated to a spot on the Burma border, said the statement.
The NDF said Mon refugees should not be forced to repatriate until it was
clearly safe to do so and Thai authorities should not use the threat of
refugee repatriation to achieve a political end.