Monday, June 22, 2009

Karen women beg Thai government not to repatriate them

By The Nation

A border relief organisation on Monday accused the Burmese soldiers and their allies of raping women fleeing battles inside the country and called on the Thai government to halt forced repatriation of ethnic Karen women and children, citing humanitarian and security reasons.

In a statement issued Monday, the Karen Women Organisation said it was "very concerned about the current situation of repeated forced repatriation of the families recently arrived to Thailand in Tha Song Yang by Local Thai authority since June 16, 2009"

" We are particularly concerned for the security and safety of women and children who just ran away from fighting in their areas. KWO fear that women are vulnerable to rape if they are forced to return and the children are already tired of running," the statement said.

KWO said at least two Karen teenage girls raped and killed recently.

"Thai authorities should at least wait and see the situation. Forcing back these people during the rainy season and to the place where they still have every reason to fear for their lives is inhumane and a violation of their rights." said Dah Eh Kler, the Secretary of KWO.

"These people just fled to the border a few weeks ago with fear and fresh memories of their attacks," she said.

In the Monday statement, KWO called on the international communities to "do whatever they can to stop the possible forced repatriation by the Thai local Thai army."

The organisation called on the Thai government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to "urgently develop a procedure of obtaining proper informed consent from villagers, for decisions about returning to their villages or asking for refuge in Thailand."

Nearly 3,500 people, mostly women and children, from 20 villages along the ThaiBurmese border have fled into the Thai side of the border to escape heavy fighting since June 2, 2009.

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