Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Karenni refugees flee to Thai-Burma border

Than Htike Oo
Mizzima News - 08 July 2008

Chiang Mai - The Burmese Army's severe human rights violations have forced 165 Karenni refugees to flee to refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border this year, camp officials said.

The 165 refugees are from Shardaw and Phrusoe Townships in Karenni State. They fled to the border after being intimidated by the army. They were accused by the troops of having contact with insurgents, forced to relocated and forced into labour. The refugees started arriving at the camps situated in Mae Hong Song District, Thailand since January this year. The exodus continues till today.

"The Burmese Army soldiers summoned the refugees to their outposts repeatedly and lodged false complaints against them. They were wrongly accused of having contact with insurgents and some were arrested on suspicion. They did not dare stay in their villages and fled to the border after hiding in the jungle for some days," Pho Pya, Chairman of Karenni Refugee Camp Committee, told Mizzima.

"The junta forcibly and frequently relocated their villages. They were forced to perform labour without being paid. They were made to work in building, mending and renovating army outposts and fences built around them. Moreover they had to part with meat, food, fish, bamboo and timber free of charge to the soldiers. The soldiers forcibly relocated their villages under various pretexts such as withholding information on insurgent movements to the army, lading to encounters with the insurgents around these villages among other such fabricated charges. The refugees chose to flee to the border as a last resort after suffering harassment which was becoming unbearable," Khu Oo Re, Secretary II of 'Karenni Nationality Progressive Party' (KNPP), which is waging an armed struggle against the junta said.

KNPP has had numerous skirmishes and encounters with the Burmese Army in Shardaw and Mawchi areas. It is learnt that the Burmese Army's LIB 426, 530 and 531 are operating in these areas.

These new arrivals have been accommodated in their relatives' houses and provided food by the Refugee Camp Committee.

The Camp Committee will have discussions with the district authorities for giving them refugee status.

The camp officials said that there are about 23,000 recognized refugees in Karenni Camp No. 1 and 2.

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