Recent refugees face pressure to return: Urgent action needed

These recent refugees currently live in two small camps in this wild and beautiful area north of Mae La

The Burma Campaign UK reports that the Thai authorities are threatening to force the return starting on 5 February 2010 of the 3,000 Karen refugees who fled to an area north of Mae La in June following a military offensive by the Burmese Army in Karen State, Eastern Burma.

The area they would return to is under the “control” of the DKBA and heavily mined they would face mass torture, harrying by military forces and many deaths if forced to return.

Although the Thai Government and local authorities have officially stated that they will not force people to return, in practice they are applying significant pressure on the refugees to return.

Until now the refugees have been kept in two temporary camps close to the Thailand-Burma border. Many of these refugees have already been forced to flee their homes four or more times.

If forced to return to Burma, the refugees face possible death, slave labour or forced recruitment as soldiers.

The area in Karen State where the refugees would be made to return to has many landmines. In addition, the area is now under the control of the DKBA, an organisation allied to the military dictatorship, which is guilty of committing horrific human rights abuses against civilians, including widespread use of forced labour, executions, torture and mutilations, forced recruitment of soldiers, including child soldiers, theft and extortion.

So PLEASE write to the Thai authorities to urge them not to force the refugees back to Burma. There is a simple form you can use here:http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/index.php/campaigns/actions/crisis-in-eastern-burma/write-to-thai-prime-minister

I have already written, editing the form letter in the hope that this will make it weigh more, but simply adding your name and address and clicking send is all that’s needed. If the Thai authorities realise that many people outside care enough to post an email they may see this issue as one that impacts their tourist industry!

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