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BP: Arrested Burmese may escape
- Subject: BP: Arrested Burmese may escape
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 20:24:00
May 23, 1998
UNHCR will rule on the status of 15
The 16 Burmese nationals arrested this week for illegal entry
will not be repatriated if they are classified by the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees 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 are U Thein Oo, who claimed he used to
be an opposition MP of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League
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 spokesman.
Bangkok might send them to Burma or to a third country on a
voluntary basis if they are ruled otherwise. The ministry has
liaised 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
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.
Immigration officials were not available for comment on the
deportation, but an official source in Rangoon said Thursday that
Thein Oo had violated Thai law and would have to face the
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 AFP earlier.
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
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,
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
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 minister.
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 to bring an end to the
"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 neighbouring country," he said.
Police officers said they had been unaware of who Thein Oo
was or of his political activities before the raid.
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Last Modified: Sat, May 23, 1998