/Thailand: Give Sanctuary to Karen Refugees Fleeing Burmese Army Attacks | Burma Campaign UK

Thailand: Give Sanctuary to Karen Refugees Fleeing Burmese Army Attacks | Burma Campaign UK

Statement by 41 Karen community organisations worldwide

For decades the Royal Thai government has hosted ethnic Karen refugees and other refugees from Burma and we are grateful for the sanctuary we have been given in the past.

Now, once again, our fellow Karen are fleeing attacks by the Burmese military. More than 20,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the past four months. Several thousand fled to Thailand but were forced to return.

As Karen people we do not want to have to flee our homes and seek safety in other countries, such as Thailand. We only want to live in peace in our homeland.

Now that our country is once again under direct military rule, and the military dictatorship is brutally killing unarmed protesters, including children, many people from central Burma are fleeing to ethnic states, including Karen State.

Since December 2020 the military have been breaking the ceasefire agreements and sending patrols across lines into Karen National Union territory that they are not supposed to cross without permission. Local villages have been threatened and people warned they could be used as forced labour to carry military supplies.

The Burmese military also started to fire mortar bombs into civilian areas bombing villages and farms. Thousands more soldiers and supplies have been brought into Karen State.

On 27th March the Burmese military began using fighter jets to bomb civilian villages. Around 20 people, including a child, have been killed and many more injured. Homes and schools have been destroyed.

Attacks against the Karen people are already increasing with shelling and mortar bombs happening regularly for several months. Jets continue to fly over Karen State and more bombings can take place at any time. With more soldiers still arriving in Karen state and with significantly improved technology and firepower in the past ten years, the warning signs are clear. There is a real danger of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people being forced to flee escalating attacks by the Burmese military. This will create a human rights and humanitarian crises with international implications, especially for Thailand.

We understand there is also significant Burmese military build-up in Shan State which could result in more conflict and displacement there as well. This will result in many more people seeking safety in Thailand.

We appreciate the challenges that this places on the Royal Thai government, especially at a time when there is a global pandemic. 

We would like to call on the Royal Thai government to take the following steps to respond to this crisis: