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Thailand denies sending fleeing villagers back to Myanmar

MAE SAM LAEP, Thailand: Thailand’s prime minister denied on Tuesday (Mar 30) that his nation’s safety forces have despatched villagers back to Myanmar who fled from navy airstrikes, and mentioned his authorities is prepared to shelter anybody who’s escaping combating.

His feedback got here a day after humanitarian teams mentioned the Thai navy had begun sending back a number of the hundreds of people that have fled a collection of airstrikes by Myanmar’s navy.

“There is no influx of refugees yet. We asked those who crossed to Thailand if they have any problem in their area. When they say no problem, we just asked them to return to their land first. We asked, we did not use any force,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed reporters.

“We won’t push them back,” he mentioned. “If they are having fighting, how can we do so? But if they don’t have any fighting at the moment, can they go back first?”

Thailand Myanmar

Karen villagers from Myanmar arrive on a ship with an injured particular person as they evacuate to Ban Mae Sam Laep Health Centre in Mae Hong Son province, northern Thailand on Mar 30, 2021. (Photo: AP/Sakchai Lalit)

The weekend strikes, which despatched ethnic Karen individuals to search security in Thailand, have been one other escalation within the violent crackdown by Myanmar’s junta on protests towards its Feb 1 takeover.

At least 510 protesters have been killed because the coup, in accordance to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which says the precise toll is probably going a lot increased.

READ: Myanmar crackdown death toll passes 500

It says 2,574 individuals have been detained. Protests continued on Tuesday regardless of the deaths of greater than 100 individuals on Saturday alone.

The coup that ousted the federal government of Aung San Suu Kyi reversed the nation’s progress towards democracy since her National League for Democracy get together received elections in 2015 after 5 a long time of navy rule.

At Thailand’s Mae Sam Laep village alongside the Salween River, which types the border with Myanmar, paramilitary Thai Rangers on Tuesday twice waved off a ship that had come from the opposite aspect carrying seven individuals, together with one mendacity flat and one other with a bandage on his head. But ambulances quickly arrived on the Thai aspect and it landed anyway.

Thailand Myanmar

An injured Karen villager from Myanmar is attended by medical employees after they crossed Salawin river on a ship, at Ban Mae Sam Laep Health Centre, Mae Hong Son province, Thailand, Mar 30, 2021. (Photo: AP/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai villagers helped medical employees carry the injured individuals on stretchers to a small clinic at a close-by checkpoint. One man had giant bruises on his back with open wounds, an harm one medical staffer mentioned may have been attributable to an explosion.

An aged girl within the group had small cuts and scabs throughout her face. Thai nurses in protecting gear to guard towards COVID-19 attended to her, giving her and others checks for the coronavirus.

Another villager from the boat, 48-year-old Aye Ja Bi, mentioned he had been wounded by a bomb dropped by a airplane. His legs have been hit by shrapnel and his ears have been ringing, he mentioned, however he was unable to journey to get assist till Tuesday.


The airstrikes appeared to be retaliation for an assault by guerrillas of the Karen National Liberation Army on a authorities navy outpost, by which they claimed to have killed 10 troopers and captured eight. The group is combating for higher autonomy for the Karen individuals.

Thailand Myanmar

Myanmar troopers stand at a small military camp alongside the river financial institution close to the border of Myanmar and Thailand on Mar 30, 2021. (Photo: APSakchai Lalit)

Thai authorities, who claimed weeks in the past to be getting ready for an inflow of refugees, have responded inconsistently. A gaggle of two,500 to 3,000 refugees crossed into Thailand on Sunday, in accordance to a number of humanitarian assist companies who’ve lengthy labored with the Karen.

They mentioned on Monday, nonetheless, that Thai troopers had begun to pressure individuals to return to Myanmar.

COMMENTARY: Myanmar protesters are not giving up so easily

“They told them it was safe to go back even though it is not safe. They were afraid to go back but they had no choice,” mentioned a spokesperson for the Karen Peace Support Network, a bunch of Karen civil society organisations in Myanmar.

Two different individuals confirmed that refugees have been being despatched back to Myanmar. All three spoke on situation of anonymity due to the delicate nature of the difficulty.

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Ethnic Karen villagers from Myanmar relaxation at Ban Mae Sam Laep Health Centre, Mae Hong Son province, northern Thailand, after they crossed Salawin river on a ship on Mar 30, 2021. (Photo: AP/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat mentioned in an announcement on Monday evening that claims some Karen have been being pressured to return to Myanmar have been inaccurate and “cite information solely from non-official sources without confirming the facts from official sources on the ground”.

“In fact, the Thai authorities will continue to look after those on the Thai side while assessing the evolving situation and the needs on the ground,” he mentioned.

READ: Rubbish piles up on Yangon streets as Myanmar protesters launch ‘garbage strike’

The military has restricted journalists’ entry to the world the place the villagers crossed the border.

Myanmar’s authorities has battled Karen guerrillas on and off for years – together with different ethnic minorities searching for extra autonomy – however the airstrikes marked a significant escalation of violence.

Escaping villagers from the Karen State are pictured in an unidentified location

Escaping villagers from the Karen State are pictured in an unidentified location on Mar 28, 2021 on this image obtained from social media. (Photo: Karen Teacher Working Group through REUTERS)

Political organisations representing the Karen and Kachin in northern Myanmar have issued statements in latest weeks warning the federal government towards taking pictures protesters of their areas and threatening a response.


They have been joined on Tuesday by the Three Brothers Alliance, which symbolize the guerrilla armies of the Rakhine, Kokang and Ta-ang – also referred to as Palaung – minorities.

The alliance condemned the killing of protesters and mentioned if it didn’t cease instantly, they’d abandon a self-declared ceasefire and be part of with different teams to shield the individuals.

Their assertion, like these of the Karen and Kachin, appeared to counsel that any navy response by them can be of their dwelling areas, not within the cities of central Myanmar the place the protests and repression have been the strongest.

Supporters of the protest motion are hoping that the ethnic armed teams may assist stress the junta. Protest leaders in hiding say they’ve held talks, however there have been no commitments.

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