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Mizzima: Thai government accused of

Thai government accused of forcibly repatriating Karen refugees

New Delhi, June 16, 2000
Mizzima News Group (http://www.mizzima.com)

The Thai authorities had forcibly deported total 116 ethnic Karen
refugees from a refugee camp in Thailand to Burma on last Monday, Human
Rights Watch alleged today.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said that on June 12, the Thai
authorities expelled 116 Karen refugees from Don Yang refugee camp in
Kanchanaburi Province to Mon State of Burma.

Denouncing the Thai government for violating basic principle of
international refugee protection, the Human Rights Watch had demanded
that the people who have been forced back should be allowed to return
and should be given a proper hearing for their refugee claims.

Many of the deportees were the ones who had fled fighting between the
Karen National Union (KNU) and government troops in 1997, but the Thai
authorities rejected their appeal to remain in the camp as they reported
to the camp authorities only in 1998. The Kanchanaburi provincial
admission board, which processed the refugee claims, subsequently set a
deadline of June 12 for the refugees to be deported to Burma.

?These forced returns set a dangerous precedent for thousands of other
asylum seekers whose cases are under review by the provincial admission
boards,? said Joe Saunders, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Over 120, 000 Burmese refugees are registered in various camps in
Thailand. They fled from forced relocation, arbitrary execution, forced
labour and torture of the government troops, and armed conflicts between
ethnic groups and government forces in Burma.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, nor does it have its own
domestic refugee law. It however established provincial admission boards
throughout the border region to review the refugee claims.