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NEWS-U.N. Investigating Report that
- Subject: NEWS-U.N. Investigating Report that
- From: BurmaJapan@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 10:56:00
U.N. Investigating Report that Thai Soldiers Caused Refugee Deaths
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) U.N. investigators are
looking into reports that Thai soldiers caused the
deaths of two Burmese refugees, including an
infant, and wounded four.
"We've had various reports about this incident,"
said Amelia Bonifacio, the Bangkok representative
for the United Nations High Commissioner for
The soldiers fired their weapons for five minutes
around ethnic Karen refugees in the Thay Pu Law
Sue camp near the Burma border to intimidate them
into moving to another location, Karen ethnic group
activists and aid workers said.
As the refugees fled in panic, a 3-day-old infant was
trampled to death, another refugee was fatally shot
in the stomach and four were wounded, the activists
said on condition of anonymity. The condition of the
wounded was not known.
Independent verification of the incident has not
been possible because the Ministry of the Interior
has not allowed outsiders into the camp, west of the
Thai city of Umphang and 210 miles from Bangkok.
Bonifacio said investigators were conducting a
fact-finding mission and would try to enter the camp
The refugees angered Thai army officers because
they refused to move to a new location that the
soldiers said was just a 10-minute walk from a
Burmese army post, the activists said.
More than 100,000 Karen and other ethnic refugees
from Burma are living in camps in Thailand, having
fled Burmese army offensives aimed at wiping out
the Karen National Union, a guerrilla group fighting
for Karen autonomy in Burma since 1948.
The camps periodically have been attacked and
burned down by a splinter group of Karen under the
control of the Burmese Army. Many refugees have
said Burmese soldiers participated in the attacks.
Refugees living in camps in the northern section of
the Thai-Burma border generally have been treated
with compassion by the Thai army and local
There have been a number of clashes, however, in
camps along the southern section of the border
where Thai businessmen are developing highways
and other investment projects linking the two
Those camps, along with the Thay Pu Law Sue
camp, are under the control of Thailand's Ninth Army
Division. During the administration of former Prime
Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the army rounded
up refugees, including women and children, and sent
them back to Burma into the path of a Burmese
army offensive in February.
Chavalit and his generals denied any refugees were
sent back, but army officers, district officials, local
villagers and the refugees all said the forced
repatriations took place.
Bonifacio said her investigators had met with local
officials in Umphang and she was scheduled to
meet with Thai foreign ministry officials today.
She said she hoped the new administration of Prime
Minister Chuan Leekpai would take a more
favorable attitude toward the refugees, but
acknowledged it was too soon to tell what its policy