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PM says Thailand won’t turn away Burmese refugees, but reports say already 2,000 have been refused

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PM says Thailand won’t turn away Burmese refugees, but reports say already 2,000 have been refused | Thaiger
Photo by Karen Women Organisation

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says Burmese refugees won’t be turned away, but reports say Thailand has already refused around 2,000 asylum seekers from entering. PM Prayut says the refugees would be let in on humanitarian grounds after more than 500 civilians have been killed since Myanmar’s junta took over in a coup on February 1.

“Thailand will not turn them away. When they are in trouble, we will not deny them entry to our country. However, this does not mean we will declare our intention to allow them in with open arms.”

PM Prayut spoke after the Myanmar army’s air strikes against the Karen National Union last week sent ethnic Karen civilians fleeing across the border to Thailand. Activist group Karen Information Center said 2,009 people are now internally displaced and hiding in the jungle, having been forced back into Myanmar shortly after crossing the border with Thailand. But about 3,000 Karen people were able to flee across the border to Thailand without being turned away.

“After we asked questions (such as) what are their problems in your country, they said, ‘there’s no problem.’ So, since there is no problem, can they just return home for the time being? We didn’t force them (to return) with guns, we even shook hands and blessed them good luck.”

“We have to take care of them based on humanitarian principles. We have a lot of experience… There is no way we will push them back if the fighting is still ongoing. But if there is no fighting now, can they return to their home?”

But when asked about reports that refugees were being denied entry, PM Prayut said it was necessary for authorities to enforce requirements for legal entries.

“If there is a war, that’s another scenario. In the event the situation escalates, leading to deaths and injuries, the government will put in place measures to deal with an influx.”

David Eubank, founder of the relief organisation Free Burma Rangers, said it was the first time in 20 years that airstrikes had been carried out in the area.

Despite the government’s denials, several human rights groups, including the European Karen Network, have criticised the Thai authorities.

“Forcibly sending people back into a conflict zone amounts to refoulement and is against international refugee law.”

Since the February 1 coup by Myanmar’s military, which removed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy from elected power, more than 510 people have been killed. And, the violence has been escalating daily as Saturday alone saw 114 people killed. On Monday, 14 people were shot dead including children and women, according to the advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post/CNN

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    Most people probably see airstrikes as an indicator of a “conflict zone” and that “fighting is still ongoing”, and that over 500 killed suggests there are “deaths and injuries”

  2. Avatar

    lolo

    Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Dear Prayut, as you don’t like to see the army killing innocent people, it is time for you to go relax on the beach and give Thailand peace and democracy.

  3. Avatar

    Mick

    Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    I’m guessing the “highest bidder” gets the action where the P.M. is concerned

    Refugees are broke, so…

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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Independent candidates polling well in Bangkok governor race

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Independent candidates polling well in Bangkok governor race | Thaiger
PHOTO: Chadchard Sittipunt currently leads in Bangkok governor polls

Independent candidates are trending in polls for the Bangkok governor election later this year, with undecided voters leaning independent. Undecided voters have grown to nearly 1/3 of all voters up from just under 30% in March, possibly due to voters being tired of political polarisation. The exact date of the election has not been announced yet but independent candidates have jumped into the race before the major party candidates. Three have announced so far, former senator and rights activist Rossana Tositrakul, former national Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda and former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt. Though many are still undecided, Chadchart seems to be the early favourite pulling 25% support in a recent poll while Chakthip earned just 12%, a lead that seems to be widening.

Bangkok voters traditionally did not vote independent, but rather along party lines, though they are known to decide last minute basing their choice on immediate factors. Surveys show that voters tend to make their decisions less than 5 days before elections normally. In the last election for governor in 2013, Sukhumbhand Paribatra performed badly in polls and yet won in the last minute vote after accusations that his opponent had plans to nominate red-shirt leaders.

Political analysts were not shocked with Chadchart’s dominance in the polls, but are also unconvinced that he can maintain his lead when the major party candidates enter the Bangkok governor election cycle. They believe that candidates from Kao Klai Party or the Progressive Movement, both splinters from the Future Forward Party, would offer formidable opposition. The Future Forward Party sprung to the spotlight in 2019, gaining 6 million votes in the country, 800,000 of which were from Bangkok, making it the third-largest party. There is a rumour that Parit “Itim” Wacharasindhu, the co-founder of the Progressive Constitution Group, might run under one of these two parties. His pro-democracy leanings may pull a lot of voters away from Chadchart.

The poll in March showed that 66% of Bangkok voters favoured independent candidates now and are leaning away from major party affiliations. The results are thought to indicate Bangkok residents’ frustration in extremely polarized political parties. Elections began 4 months ago in provinces, aside from Bangkok and Pattaya, considered special administrative zones.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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London’s anti-coup Burmese Ambassador locked from embassy

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London’s anti-coup Burmese Ambassador locked from embassy | Thaiger
Kyaw Zwar Minn, Burmese Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 2013.

In London, the Myanmar Ambassador has been tossed from his own embassy, locked out because of his stance against the military junta in his country. The lockout occurred as a result of Kyaw Zwar Minn’s breaking ranks with the Burmese military leadership and calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader who was jailed when the military coup overran the country. Military leaders inside the London embassy are believed to be responsible for locking Ambassador Kyaw out of the embassy. The Burmese Ambassador had previously drawn praise by British foreign minister Dominic Raab for his courage in standing against the military coup, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and the elected President Win Myint and standing for pro-democracy causes. The United Kingdom have sanctioned the Burmese military and some of its business interests in response to the military coup and the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, calling for a return of democratic rule to the conflicted country.

Speaking outside the embassy where police were waiting and guarding watchfully, Kyaw spoke with protesters saying he’d been locked out of his own building and that he was waiting to go back inside. He says he has been in touch with Britain’s foreign ministry about the situation, but no action or formal statements have been made yet. He referred to it as a coup in the middle of London, referring to the fact that his building was now occupied by military leaders inside. It is believed that deputy ambassador Chit Win has taken control of the embassy with a military attaché and locked the building to their own diplomat.

The British foreign office has not commented yet on the incident, but the police did release a statement saying they’re aware of the protest going on regarding the Burmese Ambassador and that police are present and watching but have not made any arrests or taken any action at this time.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Taiwan ready to duke it out if China attacks

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Taiwan ready to duke it out if China attacks | Thaiger
Stock photo via Flickr

Taiwan officials say they are ready to duke it out if China decides to take its military activities a step further. The announcement, made by its foreign minister, comes after China has stepped up its aircraft carrier drills near the island along with other military activities in the past few months.

“From my limited understanding of American decision makers watching developments in this region, they clearly see the danger of the possibility of China launching an attack against Taiwan. We are willing to defend ourselves without any questions and we will fight the war if we need to fight the war. And if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day we will defend ourselves to the very last day.”

Washington, Taiwan’s most important international ally has been pushing for Taiwan to modernise its military and spend more on defence in order to make it harder for China to successfully attack the island.

“The defence of Taiwan is our responsibility. We will try every way we can to improve our defence capability.”

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said they will run 8 days of computer-aided war games this month which would simulate a Chinese attack on Taiwan. The Han Kuang exercises are the island nation’s largest annual war games. The next phase of the games will include live firing drills, according to general Liu Yu-Ping.

“The drills are designed based on the toughest enemy threats, simulating all possible scenarios on an enemy invasion on Taiwan.”

Taiwan has not indicated if the Chinese carrier group is planning to go to the South China Sea, which is a disputed territory where a US carrier group is operating. But deputy defence minister Chang Che-ping says Taiwan is closely monitoring the carrier’s movements, saying that, for now, it seems the carrier is just doing routine drills.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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