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ASEAN summit will discuss situation in Myanmar and crisis facing Karen people

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PHOTO: Free Burma Rangers

Thailand’s Foreign Minister says next month’s ASEAN summit in Brunei will discuss the ongoing crisis in Myanmar and the plight of the country’s Karen people. Don Pramudwinai says the Thai government is monitoring the situation closely, amid reports that thousands of Karen people have fled into Thailand to escape the violence of the Burmese military junta.

“I cannot reveal the details to be discussed at the summit but can say that we aim to bring peace to Myanmar and the ASEAN community as soon as possible, which is the ultimate goal of the summit.”

On February 1, the Burmese military seized power in a bloodless coup, ousting the democratically-elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. They have defended their actions by claiming that November’s election, which Suu Kyi won by a landslide, was fraudulent. Since then, the situation has become more deadly, with the army cracking down on pro-democracy protesters and resistance fighters.

Last weekend, the junta launched air strikes on a village in Karen state, with thousands of ethnic Karen fleeing into Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province in the aftermath. There have been conflicting reports since, with the Thai authorities accused of forcing refugees to return to Myanmar, an allegation the government denies.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha insists Thailand is not forcing Burmese refugees to return to their country, insisting both sides must work together to find a solution.

“Nobody is pointing guns to keep them out of the country. This is a humanitarian problem and both sides need to find a solution together.”

Foreign Minister Don adds that while Thailand is willing to accept the refugees on a temporary basis, they will be returned once things get back to normal.

“When the situation returns to normal these refugees will be sent back, which is normal practice by any country that accepts refugees. I have talked with the authorities in Myanmar about the refugee problem and urged them to reduce the violence so that the situation can return to normal as soon as possible. The Myanmar authorities acknowledged our request but said they would adjust their actions based on the situation.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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