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Mon refugees and "Cross Border RELO

Subject: Mon refugees and "Cross Border RELOCATION"  without UNHCR or other international monitoring 

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(April, 1996)

Unclear Definition "Repatriation" for Mon Refugees

Under the circumstance of fear of being repatriated by
forces, the Mon refugees who remained on Thai soil have
not too much opportunity to immovably reside in their
camp after April 30 deadline. Since the concerned Thai
authorities instructed Mon refugees to move to the Burma
side of the border in December of 1995, those remaining
Mon refugees and their community leaders have waited
for international recognition and monitoring after they
asked in August of 1995. There has been no condition for
them to achieve a well organized international repatriation
program in time and, as the time was too close to April 30
and they had to move before mentioned deadline. 

According to the international principles of protection of
refugees, the preparation time for repatriation must be
provided and the repatriation must be voluntary. After the
repatriation, they must be provided the needed re
integration assistance in resettlement sites.  In the
preparation process, the registers for the choices of the
refugees must be done; the reception camps must be
created and the visiting access to settlement sites or
places of origin must be provided under the protection of
international organizations. 
After the preparation for repatriation was completed, the
process for repatriation must be started. Mostly, in
countries of origin, the genuine peace will have already
occurred and the government also ready to accept its
people and provide proper treatment. 

In the situation of Burma, the ceasefire agreements
which have been reached between the ethnic nationalities
and SLORC are only initiative step for peace. But the
country of asylum, Thailand, has considered such this
initial step as a genuine peace and would like to move the
refugees along the its border to return back to their origin
country, under the term of "REPATRIATION". The
MNRC accepted the term of repatriation, which is meant
relocation and settlement of returnees when the
international involvement is assisted and all processes
including preparation, transportation and reintegration
must be arranged systematically.
In fact, the repatriation of the Mon refugees without the
international involvement and conditions under
circumstance of fear of being forced to return back, is not
meant the repatriation and that definition is unrealistic for
Mon refugees. The Mon refugees who have been moved
under the circumstance of fear and lack of international
protection, which is organized by its own community,
must be simply defined as "cross border

The situation in Burma is unacceptable for any
repatriation in the wake of ceasefire and also the
government of country of origin undesirable to accept its
own people. So far without changing the democratic
government which will be desirable to accept its own
people, the Mon refugees, who are taking refuge along
the border in Burma side remain as internally displaced
persons.  In time when the democratic government came
into power, those displaced persons should be
repatriated to their origin home according to international

Even the MNRC has consistently requested for
international involvement to assist monitoring and
protection especially UNHCR based in Bangkok since
August of 1995, the government of Myanmar (SLORC)
did not agree to allow UNHCR participation in this
repatriation, according to UNHCR legal officers. It was
responded by SLORC that the international monitoring
must be available when all ethnic nationalities along Thai
- Burma border had agreed for ceasefire with Rangoon
military government. The MNRC has realized the role of
UNHCR as it bases in a country which is not a signatory
of 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols related to
refugees over the world, and it has been impossible to
assist perfect protection. Actually, the recent relocation
was organized by community itself to avoid the terrible
situations which those refugees had faced recently. Most
of Mon refugees and the community leaders ever faced
terrible situations of two forced repatriations from Loh Loe
to Halockhani, a vulnerable position which is close to
Burmese troops' outpost, and from Thai soil to
Halockhani after they were attacked by Burmese troops.
That was why the refugees could not delay their time in
moving cross border and relocated in new sites. 

The New Arrivals and Assistance Problems

As the ceasefire agreement is not meant an arrangement
of political settlement, the SLORC authorities never
considered for its practice of using forced labourers and
to improve human rights situation and ignored
condemnation or complaint of even its ceasefire partners.
In case of conscription of forced labours in 110 mile long
Ye - Tavoy railway construction, the New Mon State Party
(NMSP) also has complained to SLORC for its local
troops and authorities' inhumane labour conscription but
the concerned military division has ignored this.
In the areas where the Mon, Karen and Tavoyan local
inhabitants are residing, the conscription of forced
labours have been terrible every day and many villagers
from several villages have consistently fled to border
area. On the other hand, the local Burmese troops also
collect the high tax for portering fees and other fees for
development projects. (The complete kinds of human
rights violations in area concerned were publicised in its
March Report) 

The most new arrivals who were escaped for such
human rights abuses, has been taking refuge in Tavoy
district area and Halockhani camps and at the same time,
the internally displaced persons immigrants from
Thailand also sought refuge in the resettlement sites. In
comparison with total population, the farmers from
respective camps who have slash and burn rice
cultivation in coming rainy season are very small number
and impossible to provide rice to all camp residents. 

In Tavoy District Area, only 91 families of total population
have rice cultivation in nearby campsites and it has
smallest number of farmer in comparison with other
camps. The Halockhani camp has 259 families who grow
rice while the Bee Ree camp has 143 families. Although
the Mon Resettlement Committee, an organization that
was formed by NMSP, has attempted in organizing
refugees to grow rice, as the most refugees were too
busy in building their houses and other needed
constructions in camps, and then they could not get
enough time for in clearing farmlands. 

Therefore, the MNRC expresses its concerns on such
situation and the food shortage problems might occur at
the end of this year. The new crops will come out in
December of this year and estimatedly, that rice
production can provide only one or two month food
assistance to all population. The food shortage problems
can occur in coming year 1997 and for the refugees, they
may be in difficult situation to get some income for
survival. The rice production is also totally depended on
rain and it can be reduced by rain or climate. 

Mainly, the peoples who are in Tavoy District area must
need rice assistance in coming 1997 and the MNRC
concerns for them especially.  If they faced food shortage
problems, it might be impossible for all family members to
move into Thailand to seek job for survival.  Undoubtedly,
they will not get any help from Burmese government or
SLORC, while the NMSP has very shortage of fund to
help them. 

Furthermore, those displaced persons still need the helps
of international community in providing them with
available foods in 1997 and it needs the humanitarian
consideration and collaboration of all parties concerned in
helping to those suffering people. 


Mr. Ruprecht von Arnim 
United Nations High Commission for Refugees Office 
Date. 14th April 1996. 
Subject: Re monitoring resettlement of Mon refugees. 


With regard to the abovementioned subject, the Thai
Royal Government had given order to all Mon refugees to
evacuate from Payaw and Halokkhani camps into Burma
by 30th April 1996. 

Therefore, all of them have already evacuated to areas
around the sources of Kin Chaung (stream), Ye Chaung
and Baleh Doonphite. 

Resettlement of refugees in respect of economic stability,
self-sufficiency, health and education are still inadequate.
That is why they are in need of special monitoring. We
therefore urge the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees to give every possible help to them. 

Yours truly,

(Nai Shwe Kyin)