Please sign the open letter to Thai PM regarding to refugee issue alongside Thai-Burma border. We will accept the signatures until mignight. We also kindly invite Thai and Foreign media for letter submission in front of House of Parliament on 26 Nov 2010 at 9.00 AM.
กรุณาร่วมลงชื่อในจดหมายเปิดผนึกต่อรัฐบาลไทยในประเด็นผู้ลี้ภัยชายแดนไทย-พม่า โดยข่าวล่าสุดรายงานว่าทหารพม่ากำลังจะเปิดฉากโจมตีกองกำลังกะเหรี่ยงพุทธอีกครั้งเร็วๆ นี้ โดยจะเปิดรับรายชื่อถึงเวลาเที่ยงคืนวันนี้
นอกจากนี้ องค์กรเพื่อนพม่ายังขอเชิญสื่อมวลชนร่วมทำข่าวการยื่นจดหมายเปิดผนึกให้กับรัฐบาลไทย ในวันที่ 26 พฤศจิกายน 2553 เวลา 9.00 น. ณ บริเวณหน้าทำเนียบรัฐบาล
November 26, 2010
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
Office of the Prime Minister
Royal Thai Government
Pitsanolok Road, Dusit,
subject: Open letter to call for protection of civilians affected by war and armed conflict in Myanmar based on International Humanitarian Laws and human rights principles
Dear Prime Minister:
On November 7, 2010, the day of national elections in Myanmar, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Brigade 5 took key positions at Myawaddy which resulted in the clashes between DKBA Brigade 5 and the Burmese government troops in Myawaddy town and Valey Village in Karen State. Later on November 8, the fighting broke out near Burmese-Thai border, just opposite of Mae-Sot and Pob-Phra in Tak province. Moreover, the clashes between DKBA and SPDC troops escalated to the Myanmar border town of Phaya Tong Su in Mon State, opposite of Three Pagoda Pass in Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi province.
As a result, some 25,000 civilians fled the fighting into Thai border in the morning of November 8. Thai authorities provided temporary shelters for Burmese refugees in Mae-Sot while international humanitarian organizations and local residents provided food and healthcare for them. In the morning of November 9, Thai authorities publicly announced in local dialects that “Now the fighting ends, everybody is safe to return home.” The Burmese refugees were sent back to Myanmar in that morning. However, it turned out that the fighting between SPDC troops and DKBA has continued in some areas. Therefore, Burmese refugees who were sent back in the morning crossed the border to Thailand again.
Burmese refugees gave the reason for returning to Thai border again that their safety cannot be guaranteed if they stay in Myanmar. The report from local organizations states that some civilians were killed and injured from the clash. Some males were forced to be porters for Burmese troops. Refugees who fled to Thai border for the second time went into hiding because they could be arrested and forcibly returned to Myanmar if they were found by Thai authorities. At present, local organizations are providing food and healthcare for four small groups of 300 refugees who are in hiding in Mae-Sot and Pob-Phra, Tak province.
Currently, the safety of civilians living in the town of Myawaddy and Phaya Tong Su cannot be guaranteed because of the ongoing armed conflicts which may lead to other forms of human rights violations; for example, the right to life security and private property, forced conscription to be porters, and rape and sexual harassment against ethnic civilians. The future possibility of human rights violations frightens civilians and forces them to continue hiding along Thai border.
With our deep concern of the ill-faith of fellow human-beings and Thailand’s obligations to comply with International Humanitarian Law and universal human rights principles, the organizations and individuals attached at the end of this open letter call for the Thai government and other authorities responsible for refugees to provide the following measures to protect those civilians affected by armed conflicts.
- Provide protection and temporary shelters for civilians affected by armed conflicts who are in hiding along Thai border based on the International Humanitarian Laws and human rights principles. Guarantee that the decision on repatriation should be made by the working committee which consists of Thai authorities, international humanitarian organizations, and local organizations and based on non-refoulement principle.
- Seek collaboration and coordination with international humanitarian organizations and local organizations to evaluate the situation and prepare for refugee protection once receive a warning of shortcoming fighting.
- Temporary shelters for civilians affected by armed conflicts should be located in the safe zone and suitable of refugees to live with dignity with easy-access by roads. The temporary shelters should be able to protect refugees from changing weather, quipped with toilets and water, and enough warm clothes. During the stay, enough food and drinking water should be provided and special measures for vulnerable groups such as children, women, and elderly should be implemented.
- Distribute food, drinking water, and medicine to the returning refugees during the repatriation process to help them survive at the beginning of their re-settlement.
- In the long term, establish a special working committee on refugees which consists of Thai authorities, international humanitarian organizations and local organizations.