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THE NATION: 14 Burmese deported


      14 Burmese deported

      THAILAND on Sunday deported 14
      Burmese dissidents, including a minister of
      a government in exile, to their country but to
      areas where their safety was guaranteed, a
      senior security official said Tuesday. 

      The source declined to reveal the
      whereabouts of the Burmese, including
      Thein Oo, a justice minister in the National
      Coalition Government of the Union of
      Burma, who had been deported. 

      He said the deportation was in line with
      Thai immigration laws. 

      ''They were arrested last week in
      Nonthaburi province on charges of illegal
      entry. According to the laws, an illegal alien
      is to be deported to the country of origin,''
      he said. 

      Meanwhile Foreign Ministry spokesman
      Kobsak Chutikul said the arrested
      Burmese group had not applied to be under
      the care of the UN High Commissioner for
      Refugees (UNHCR). 

      ''I was informed that as a group the
      Burmese did not want to be granted
      person-of-concern status with the UNHCR.
      They chose not to apply for the status.
      There are certain Western countries that
      offer them asylum,'' Kobsak said. He
      declined to name the countries. 

      Shortly after the arrest, UNHCR officials
      were allowed to interview the group to learn
      whether they wanted the status or not. It was
      reported that eight of them had sought the

      Under the care of the UNHCR they will be
      allowed to stay in Thailand, but their
      anti-Burmese government activities will be

      The Nation