Thailand Refuses Thousands of Karen Refugees Fleeing Burma Army Airstrikes

By Network Media Group
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Thai authorities refused refuge for over 2,000 Karen fleeing Burma Army airstrikes, deporting them after crossing the Salween River into Thailand from Mutraw District, located in the Salween Peace Park.

Photos posted on Karen Peace Support Network’s Facebook page showed Thai soldiers installing razor wire to prevent displaced Karen from leaving the riverbank, where they huddled looking tired and afraid on Monday, March 29.

“Thai and the Burmese regime both oppress Karen people in different ways,” a Karen person displaced by the conflict said during a live feed post on their Facebook page. “We have no options but to return to Karen State as there are many Thai soldiers on the riverbank.”

After Thai authorities pushed them back to Burma, many from Ei Tu Tha internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp are now hiding in the jungle, fearful the Burma Army will launch new airstrikes should they return home.

According to Karen civil society organizations (CSOs), there are over 10,000 IDPs affected by the conflict between Burma Army and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of Karen National Union (KNU).

Burma Army fighter jets attacked seven villages in KNLA’s Brigade 5 area from March 27-28, killing at least three and injuring nine people, according to a KNU statement. Homes and buildings were destroyed, including a school. The villages included Day Bu Noh, Thee Kaw Hta, Tanaylu hill, Kalobawhta, Mawyuni, Thebopalaw and Hokay.

The airstrikes happened the same day that Brigade 5 captured Burma Army’s Thee Mu Htar camp. During the incident, at least ten Burma Army soldiers died, including the deputy battalion commander, according to the statement. Karen soldiers captured seven troops and a lieutenant officer.