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Karen illegals pushed back to Burma

November 19, 1997


Karen illegals pushed back to Burma[PARA]Supamart Kasem [NL]Umphang, 
Tak[PARA]More than 2,000 Karens were sent back to Burma in an operation said 
to have caused the deaths of a baby and a 45-year-old man yesterday.[PARA]The 
Karen Refugee Committee has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees to act against Thai officials over the deaths of the two 
Karens.[PARA]Authorities treated 2,500 Karens in Ban Lae Tongku, Ban Kui 
Lortor and Ban Tee Jorchee, Umphang, as illegal immigrants, not refugees, said 
the commander of the Fourth Infantry Regiment Task Force.[PARA]As they had 
entered the country illegally and there was no fighting in Burma, they must 
return, said Col Chatchaput Yaemngarmriab.[PARA]Col Chatchaput denied 
officials had forced the Karens to return by firing shots to threaten 
them.[PARA]Sources said a first batch of 1,500 Karens living in Ban Lae Tongku 
were sent back early yesterday and another group of 600-700 Karens crossed to 
Burma in the afternoon.[PARA]About 500 remain at Ban Tee Jorchee and they 
would be repatriated soon, said a source.