Written by U Ne Oo on 1997-09-23
To our friends from Near and Afar: please help raise the issue of protection of Burma's refugees in Thailand at this 52nd session of UNGA. Following is my appeowing is my appeal letter to the President of UNGA, Mr Hennadiy Udovenko(Ukraine), to raise this issue. Approaching your home government may also be helpful to raise the issue at this UNGA. -- U Ne Oo.
Dr U Ne Oo
48/2 Ayliffes Road
St Marys SA 5042
September 20, 1997.
H.E. Mr Hennadiy Udovenko
President of U.N. General Assembly
United Nations Secretariat
United Nations New YOrk NY 10017
United States of America
I am a Burmese national currently residingl currently residing in Australia. With this letter, I call Mr President's attention to the continuing volatile situation of refugees and displaced Burmese people in Burma's neighbouring countries. In Thailand, there are estimated 100,000 refugees and 600,000 displaced people who fled from Burma to escape abusive practices of Burmese military government. Some of these refugees, who are of Burma's ethnic minority groups, have been displaced in Thailand since 1984.
Although the Thai authorities, in the past, informally allowed Burma's refua's refugees to stay on the Thai soil, there are recent signs that Royal Thai Government is increasingly intolerant to the refugees. In this connection, I enclosed with this letter just two of several reports that indicating Thai authorities harassment and threatening gestures made to the Burma's refugee, especially exiled-politicians. Earlier this year also, there are instances of the Thai authorities forcibly repatriating large number of Burma's ethnic minority refugees into war zones.
Thailand's recent financial crisis has sis has also brought much further gloom to the situation of refugees and displaced Burmese. There are more than 600,000 displaced Burmese in Thailand, illegally working in Thai's labour intensive industries. We have received recent reports of Burmese illegal workers facing near starvation as a result of a construction company failing to pay the wages. I fear that more workers have the likelihood of facing similar difficulties.
I believe that urgent attention from United Nations and international community are necessary in order to protect our refugees in Thailand and to find appropriate solution to the problems of displaced Burmese people. I ask Mr President to address the issues of Burmese refugees and displaced people in Thailand at this 52nd session of United Nations General Assembly. I call upon you to encourage the Royal Thai Government at this UN General Assembly to solve this refugee problem with the help of UNited Nations and international community. In particular, the UNited Nations General Assembly should urge the Royal Thai Governmenl Thai Government to (1) transfer protection responsibility of Burma's refugees to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and (2) to sign a memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR for a safe and voluntary repatriation of Burmese refugees and displaced people.
In closing, I thank Mr President for your kind attention to this matter.
Yours respectfully and sincerely,
Sd. U Ne Oo.
1. Ms Sadako Ogata, UN High Commissioner for REfugees.
2. Ms Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
3. United States Department of State, U.S.A.
4. Australian Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Canberra, Australia.
ASIA: THAILAND TO DEPORT MINISTERS OF BURMESE EXILE GOVT/THAI BURMA
By Matthew Pennington
BANGKOK, Sept 16 AFP - Thailand is to deport three ministers of Burma's government-in-exile, officials said today, despite fears they will be jailed on their return to the military-run country.
The three ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), allNCGUB), all elected MPs from the leading Burmese democratic party of Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested in a swoop on their offices here yesterday.
Thai immigration officials said today that a total of eight Burmese had been arrested as they did not have passports and were being held in an immigration detention centre in Bangkok.
They would be deported back to Burma, from the northern Thai border town of Mae Sot, although it was unclear when this would happen, the officials said.
The NCGUB was formed byformed by MPs elected in Burma's 1990 general elections - which were won overwhelmingly by Aung San Suu Kyi's party before the ruling junta disregarded the results - who had fled political oppression in Burma.
Burmese dissidents in Thailand expressed fears that the NCGUB ministers and officials who had been arrested with them yesterday, would face persecution on their return.
"If they are deported I'm sure they will be arrested by the Burmese government and detained in Burma. It will be very dangerous frous for them," said one Burmese student here who requested anonymity.
The NCGUB is an illegal organisation in the military state. In July, Burma's powerful intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt accused the group of masterminding a terrorist conspiracy against the ruling junta.
Thai immigration officials declined to comment if any key politicians were included among the eight currently being held at the immigration detention centre in the Thai capital.
"We got a tip-off about illegal imlegal immigrants and we checked that information before we arrested them," one official said. "We arrested them because they are illegal immigrants, nothing more."
Dissidents say the current Thai government is closer to the ruling Burmese junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) than previous administrations. Prime Minister Chaowalit Yongchaiyudh paid a state visit to Burma in May.
The NCGUB said yesterday the detained MPs were Teddy Buri, San Aung and U Thein Oo.
Representativesentatives of the exiled government have been based in Thailand for more than five years and had not "had problems" before this week, Burmese dissident sources said.
A total of 13 people were picked up in raids on the exiles' two Bangkok offices, the NCGUB said late yesterday. Two women and a young man were later released, they said.
The others were Burmese staff at the NCGUB office and one US citizen, identified as Michael Deer, believed to be connected to Burmese exiled opposition groups operating in Thai in Thailand.
Several Burmese exile groups have made their base in Thailand, since escaping across the border.
The prime minister of the NCGUB is based in Washington, while
ministers and supporters maintain offices in both Thailand and
Date July 12,1997
Reported by All Burma's Students' Democratic Front(ABSDF)
Thai Arrest 10 Burmese Students at TAMHIM Refugee Camp
On July 9,1997 Thailand's 9th Army Division arrested 10 ABSDF students at TAMHIM Refugee Camp in Thae Camp in Thailand's Ratchburi district. 10 students were among a group of 22 who had been arrested by the Thai authorities on April 12, 1997 for entering Thailand illegally. At the time of arrest,they were on their way to Bo Wi refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border in order to escape the Slorc offensive against the KNU's 4th Brigade.
On July9,1997 the 10 students were released from the Ratchburi Police jail after serving their sentence. They were set free near TAMHIM refugee camp.Afew hour later the army arrested withed within the camp.
The 22 students who were arrested on April 12 were beaten at by the army and their belnogings confiscated.Five of them were released on July 4,and another hatch of 15 students were released a day later.Ten of them went back to the refugee camp where they were subsequently arrested.
The students are refugees fleeing the fighting and they were returning to the refugee camp because they had nowhere else to go. TAMHIM is a large camp with a population of over 7,500. The Thai authorities have restricted the movement of the refugee since the beginning of last month.