Hundreds of Refugees Remain in Thailand Following Clashes on Mon Border

Friday, November 29, 2019

Some 400 people who fled to Thailand after fighting broke out between the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) and the Burma Army this week have yet to return home.

Two clashes occurred between the MNLA and government forces—which included the Karen Border Guard Force (BGF)—in Japan Yaytwin village near Three Pagodas Pass in Phaya Thonsu Township on the Thai-Burma border on Wednesday morning.

Local man Banyar told NMG that the Thai military and police were sending the refugees to various monasteries, including Meethwe Hpo and Namkok, while others went to nearby villages or relatives’ homes.

Banyar said that the Thai authorities had provided food and basic healthcare to the refugees.

Combined forces from the Burma Army and the BGF have since seized the MNLA base in Japan Yaytwin village. Locals say they are afraid to return home while their community is occupied by the government-backed troops.

The Burma Army and BGF have blocked all roads to and from the Phaya Thonsu area (Three Pagoda Pass) since November 27. Thai authorities have also closed the border gate.

“Even school buses are not allowed to pass through the gate,” a local who lives in Phaya Thonsu town told NMG.

Officials from the New Mon State Party (NMSP)—the political wing of the MNLA—told NMG this week that the fighting occurred after the government forces asked for permission to carry out observations in the border area. Mon representatives allowed them to do so, as long as they did not enter Japan Yaytwin in full military uniform. They did, and clashes occurred.

A Burma Army officer was reportedly injured in the fighting, and a soldier was killed. According to locals, a civilian was also injured and has received medical treatment in a Thai hospital.

The NMSP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Burmese government and military in February 2018.