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UN Human Rights Office calls for Southeast Asian countries to protect Burmese refugees

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Photo via Facebook/Karen Information Center - KIC

With Burmese nationals fleeing to Thailand to escape the violence in following the military coup, the United Nations UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia is calling on all neighbouring countries to protect the refugees and to not force undocumented migrants to return to Myanmar. The UN says the human rights situation in Myanmar is “rapidly deteriorating.”

At least 510 peaceful protesters have been killed by security forces while 2,600 people have been detained following the February 1 coup, according to the UN.

Night raids, mass arrests and killings have become daily occurrences throughout the country. De facto military authorities have increasingly resorted to heavy weaponry such as rocket-propelled and fragmentation grenades, heavy machine guns, and snipers to kill demonstrators in massive numbers.

In Thailand’s strongest and most direct statement yet following the Myanmar coup, yesterday the foreign ministry said it was “gravely troubled” by the casualties from the military-related violence. The ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat called for an end to the violence and for the release of detained protesters. Thailand has been working with other countries in Southeast Asia to come up with a peaceful solution to the situation in Myanmar, the spokesperson says.

Many media reports say Thailand has forced Burmese refugees back over the border, but Tanee denies those reports, saying many who fled to Thailand returned home.

The UN Human Rights Offices says they received reports that some people seeking safety have been forced to return to their home country. South-East Asia Regional Representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok says “No one should face the risk of being returned to Myanmar when their lives, safety or fundamental human rights are threatened.”

“In light of binding obligations under international refugee and human rights law, we call on all countries to ensure that all those seeking asylum are able to access the protection to which they are entitled under international law.”

SOURCES: OHCHR | Reuters

 

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