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Subject: Human Rights Watch/Asia 
Status: RO

                    Human Rights Watch/Asia
                    485 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor
                    New York, NY 10017
                    TEL: 212/972-8400
                    FAX: 212/972-0905
                    E-mail: hrwnyc@xxxxxxx
                    1522 K Street NW, Suite 910
                    Washington, D.C. 20005
                    TEL: 202/371-6592
                    FAX: 202/371-0124
                    E-mail: hrwdc@xxxxxxx
                    33 Islington High Street
                    London, N1 9LH United Kingdom
                    TEL: 44-171-713-1995
                    FAX: 44-171-713-1800
                    E-mail: hrwatchuk@xxxxxxxxxxx
                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 26, 1995
                    For more information:
                    Zunetta Liddell 44-171-713-1995 - (office) In London
                                    44-171-278-4485 - (home)
                    Mike Jendrzejczyk 202-371-6592 x113 - (office) In DC
                                      301-585-5824 - (home)    
                    Sidney Jones      212-972-8400 x290 (office) In NY
                                      718-398-4186 (home)
                    Human Rights Watch/Asia today condemned three attacks on 
          Burmese refugees in Thailand since April 23 by Burmese government 
          troops and their allies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army 
          (DKBA), and called for Thailand to increase the protection of 
          refugees in all camps. In the course of the attacks, the combined
          Burmese and DKBA forces burned refugee camps, forced scores of 
          refugees to return to Burma against their will and may have been 
          responsible for the deaths of two refugees.  Human Rights 
          Watch/Asia calls on the Burmese and Thai governments to allow an 
          international monitoring presence along their border in the area 
          where the raids took place and on the Thai government to allow 
          full access to the refugee camps by the United Nations High 
          Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian agencies, with 
          whatever security protection may be necessary.  
                    Since the fall of the Karen National Union (KNU) bases 
          at Manerplaw and Kawmoora in January and February 1995, over 
          10,000 Karen have sought refuge in Thailand, joining the 70,000 
          already in camps along the Thai-Burma border. The DKBA, a 
          breakaway group of Buddhist Karen who left the Christian-led Karen
          National Union in December 1994, alleging religious discrimination 
          and human rights abuses by Karen officers, had assisted in the 
          Burmese government's offensive against the KNU.  Following the 
          defeat of the KNU, the DKBA began raiding refugee camps, 
          kidnapping Buddhist Karen leaders and killing others in
          what are thought to have been acts of revenge.  The most recent 
          attacks are the most serious yet, and appear to be linked to 
          leaflets distributed by the DKBA in early April warning all 
          refugees to return to Burma by April 19.   
                    On April 23, around 200 government and DKBA troops 
          crossed the river Moei which marks the border with Thailand and 
          entered Klay They Loo refugee camp, close to the river in 
          Thailand's Mae Sam Leb district. Fighting broke out between them 
          and Karen camp guards. Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least
          two refugees were killed in the crossfire, and nine people were 
          taken by the DKBA. The fighting spread to a nearby Thai Karen 
          village, resulting in all the residents of that village fleeing, 
          and the village was reported to have been razed to the ground. The 
          following day, April 24, further intrusions were made into Klay
          The Loo camp and more refugees were abducted.  
                    On April 25, a separate group of around 200 Burmese and 
          DKBA troops crossed into Thailand from the north, and were 
          reported to have attacked Mae Ra Ma Luang camp, north of  Klay 
          They Loo.  Unlike the other camps, this is a new camp established 
          five and half kilometers inside Thailand after earlier attacks on 
          camps close to the border. There were over 4,500 refugees in the 
          camp at the time of the attack. The details of the attack are 
          unclear, but it reports suggest that sections one and three of the 
          camp were razed. It is not known how many people were injured      
          in the attack, nor how many people were abducted. Representatives 
          of French and German aid organizations are attempting to reach the 
          camp today, but there has been no confirmation as to whether they 
          have succeeded. Without protection from Thailand, the area remains 
          very dangerous for both refugees and those groups seeking to 
          provide them with food and shelter. 
                   At midnight on April 25, a further attack took place in 
          Kamaw Lay Kho camp,which is south of Mae Ma Ra Luang, between the 
          river and the Mae Sot - Mae Sariang highway. Press reports quoted 
          a Thai army officer as saying that some 100 troops were involved 
          in this attack, in which 300 houses were razed and an unknown 
          number of refugees and Thai villagers were abducted. Since the 
          attack 3,000 residents of the camp have been forced to live in the 
                   A representative of the Burma Border Consortium, the main 
          provider of aid to the refugees, told Human Rights Watch/Asia that 
          these attacks have dramatically increased the tension in the 
          camps, with the fear that now any camp could be attacked at any 
                It is unclear how the Thai military in the area responded to 
          the attacks, but the Thai Third Army Region Commander, Gen. 
          Surachet Dechatiwong, is reported to have traveled to the area to 
          investigate the incident. He had met with his Burmese    
          counterpart, Gen Khet Sein, at a Thai-Burma Regional Border 
          Committee meeting on April 25, where he was reported to have 
          raised the issue of incursions into Thai territory and was told 
          that the SLORC could not control the DKBA forces "who are like 
          children staying under their roof." While Human Rights Watch/Asia 
          has no details of the current relationship between the government 
          and the DKBO, it is known that they regularly meet and that the 
          government has provided financial and military assistance to the 
          DKBA. Moreover, as a paramilitary group operating from inside 
          Burma (and the headquarters of the DKBA is just across a river 
          from the large Kammamung military base), the Burmese government 
          remains responsible for their actions.
                 Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Thai government to 
          protect civilians taking refuge in their country. In cases where 
          refugees are abducted and taken to Burma against their will, the 
          Thai government is responsible for permitting refoulement, a
          violation of international law.  It also calls on the government 
          to step up its protection of the camp, rather than forcing the 
          refugees to provide for their own protection with armed guards,as 
          this could lead to the camps being considered legitimate military 
                  Human Rights Watch/Asia (formerly Asia Watch)Human Rights 
          Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to
          monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized 
          human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and 
          among the signatories of the Helsinki accords.  Kenneth Roth is 
          the executive director; Cynthia Brown is the program director; 
          Holly J. Burkhalter is the advocacy director; Gara LaMarche is
          the associate director; Juan E. Mendez is general counsel; and 
          Susan Osnos is the communications director.  Robert L. Bernstein 
          is the chair of the executive  committee and Adrian W. DeWind is 
          vice chair.  Its Asia division was established in 1985 to monitor 
          and promote the observance of internationally recognized
          human rights in Asia.  Sidney Jones is the executive director; 
          Mike Jendrzejczyk is the Washington director; Robin Munro is the 
          Hong Kong director; Zunetta Liddell, Dinah PoKempner, Patricia 
          Gossman and Jeannine Guthrie are research associates; Mark 
          Girouard and Shu-Ju Ada Cheng are Luce fellows; Diana Tai-
          Feng Cheng and Jennifer Hyman are associates; Mickey Spiegel is a 
          research consultant.