Thailand is threatening to force 3,000 ethnic Karen refugees back to Burma
starting on 5 February 2010.
The refugees fled to Thailand in June 2009 following a military offensive by
the Burmese Army in Karen State, Eastern Burma.
Although the Thai Government and local authorities have officially stated
that they will not force people to return, in practice they are applying
significant pressure on the refugees to return.
Until now the refugees have been kept in two temporary camps close to the
Thailand-Burma border. Many of these refugees have already been forced to
flee their homes four or more times.
If forced to return to Burma, the refugees face possible death, slave labour
or forced recruitment as soldiers.
The area in Karen State where the refugees would be made to return to has
many landmines. In addition, the area is now under the control of the DKBA,
an organisation allied to the military dictatorship, which is guilty of
committing horrific human rights abuses against civilians, including
widespread use of forced labour, executions, torture and mutilations, forced
recruitment of soldiers, including child soldiers, theft and extortion.