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Bangkok post and The Nation(23/5/98
- Subject: Bangkok post and The Nation(23/5/98
- From: mandalay@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 19:02:00
1:) Thailand to abide by UN determination
2:) Arrested Burmese may escape repatriation
3:) Blast in Burma
Thailand to abide by UN determination
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday interviewed 16
Burmese arrested on Wednesday, including prominent opposition leader Thein
Oo, to consider whether they are eligible for "person-of-concern" status,
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kobsak Chutikul said.
Thailand will adhere to the UNHCR's decision on the status of the Burmese,
"Those who the UN agency considers qualify for the status will be allowed
to remain in Thailand or go to a third country, while the others will be
deported to Burma. The Thai side will follow the UNHCR's determination," he
Police on Wednesday arrested 16 Burmese in a ride on a house in Nonthaburi
province as part of the routine suppression of illegal Burmese immigrants.
However, among them was Thein Oo, a close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi, who is
leader of the opposition National League Democratic Party.
Thein Oo told police he had been operating against the Burmese government,
known as the State Peace Development Council, from Bangkok for five years.
Kobsak said if Thein Oo and other Burmese were given person-of-concern
status they would be allowed to stay here.
Arrested Burmese may escape repatriation
UNHCR will rule on the status of 16
The 16 Burmese nationals arrested this week for illegal entry will not be
repatriated if the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees classifies
them as "persons of concern".
The UNHCR has interviewed the 16, arrested at a housing estate in
Nonthaburi on Wednesday, and the Foreign Ministry awaits the agency's
ruling on the group.
Police said the 16 claimed they are members of the anti-Rangoon National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. Among the 16 is U Thein Oo, who
claimed he used to be an opposition MP of Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kobsak Chutikul said the UNHCR's ruling was
expected early next week.
"If they are ruled to be persons of concern, they will not be repatriated
to Burma as it may not be safe for them. They will be prohibited from
engaging in political activities during their stay in Thailand." Said the
Bangkok might send them to Burma or to a third country on a voluntary
basis if they are ruled otherwise. The ministry has liaison with the UNHCR
on the matter.
According to Mr. Kobsak, representatives of the United States and France
have phoned the ministry and urged it not to send the suspects back to Burma.
Meanwhile a Thai court yesterday convicted an exiled Burmese MP and 13
student pro-democracy activists of the charge of illegal entry and ordered
their deportation, court officials said.
They said Thein Oo, a close aide of opposition leader and Nobel laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi, and 13 student activists from Burma, were also fined
2,800 baht each and given four-month suspended sentences.
The officials said the charges were filed against Thein Oo and 13 student
activists from Burma, following their arrest during a raid on a house in a
Bangkok suburb on Wednesday.
The charges carried a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a 20,000
baht fine, after which individuals are deported, immigration police told
Thein Oo was elected to parliament under Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy banner in the 1990 elections, the results of which
were overturned by Burma's military.
Police officers said they seized three computers and documents related to
the opposition movement of Aung San Suu Kyi during the raid.
As an MP under the NLD, Thein Oo was included in the National Coalition
Government of the Union of Burma as justice minister. The NCGUB now
operates as a government-in-exile, from Thailand.
The Thailand-based All Burma Students Democratic Front said in a statement
Thursday the house raided by police was the headquarters of the NCGUB's
Human Rights Documentation Unit.
They said those arrested included 13 men, two of them former bodyguards to
Aung San Suu Kyi and one woman, the wife of Zahle Tang, the NCGUB's health
Another NCGUB member of parliament, exiled Minister for Asia and Pacific
Affairs Teddy Buri, told AFP that Thein Oo was using Thailand as a base for
efforts t bring an end to the Myanmar junta.
"They (Thein Oo and the students) are trying to bring about democracy, but
are unable to do it on their own soil, so have had to do it in a
neighboring country," he said.
Police officers said they had been unaware of who Thein Oo was or of his
political activities before the raid.
Blast in Burma
Rangoon- an explosion at a movie theatre in Mandalay, Burma has killed one
woman and injured 11 people, the military government reported yesterday.
Authorities were investigating the blast which took place on Thursday at
4:10 p.m., a government official said in a statement faxed to Bangkok.
Other details were not disclosed.