Written by U Ne Oo on 1997-07-16
Dr U Ne Oo
48/2 Ayliffes Road
St Marys SA 5042
July 16, 1997.
Hon. Senator Jesse Helms
U.S.Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Washington DC 20510-6255
United States of America
Firstly, I should like to thank you and fellow Congressmen for your letter to the Secretary of State on 30th-April-1997, expressing concerns about forcible repatriation of our refugees from Thailand.
I am writing to the Chairman to inform continuing volatile situation of Burma's refugees in Thailand. Reports have been surfaced recently that the Thai authorities, at the local level, are continuing to harass and intimaing to harass and intimadate student activists and exiled-politician refugees. It was reported that the Thai police in last April had arrested and detained nearly 2-dozen Burmese students on the charge of illegally entering Thailand. Those students who were released recently from detention have been re-arrested by the Thai army at the refugee camp at the border. In another incident, some members of Burma's exiled parliamentarians were arrested, and then released only after paying bribes to Thai police - it was reported. As Thailand currentliland currently accommodate estimated 600,000 Burmese illegal immigrants in addition to 90,000 refugees, such disturbing treatment by local Thai authorities to displaced Burmese are of frequent occurrence.
Such incidents of abuses upon the students and political exiles occur because of a lack of legal and formal protection to Burmese refugees in Thailand. The Thai authorities, at the national level, are refusing to grant refugee status to the Karens and all others living in the camps, leaving the refugees more vulnerable. more vulnerable. Because of the lack of such legal recognition of Burma's refugees, the UNHCR was unable to protect those refugees. The United Nations, consequently, has not been able to promote appropriate solution for these refugees in Thailand. I therefore request the U.S.Congress and Government of United States urge the Thai authorities to give a formal and U.N.recognized protection to the refugees from Burma.
We also received reports that Thailand will be purchasing approximately US$400 million worth of natural gas from Buural gas from Burma after 1990. The development of a gas pipeline to Thailand, the project to which America's Unocal has 28.6 percent stake, is reported to be underway. I like to inform the U.S.Congress and business community in America about our intention to seize monies from such sale of natural gas to Thailand (preferably through United Nations system) and then use those funds in our refugee programs. In this connection, I enclosed my letter to U.N.Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Assistant Mr de Soto. I appeal the U.S.Congress tU.S.Congress to help us in this endeavour.
Finally, I like to express my sincere thanks to U.S.Congress and the Department of State for your continuing supports to our refugees and democracy movement.
Yours respectfully, Sd. U Ne Oo.
THE ABSDF PRESS RELEASE
Date: 13 Jul 1997 02:31:17
Date July 12,1997
Thai Arrest 10 Burmese Students at TAMHIM Refugee Camp
On July 9,1997 Thailand's 9th Army Division ,1997 Thailand's 9th Army Division arrested 10 ABSDF students at TAMHIM Refugee Camp in Thailand's Ratchburi district.
10 students were among a group of 22 who had been arrested by the Thai authorities on April 12, 1997 for entering Thailand illegally.At the time of arrest,they were on their way to Bo Wi refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border in order to escape the Slorc offensive against the KNU's 4th Brigade.
On July9,1997 the 10 students were released from the Ratchburi Police jail after serving their sentence. They were set free near were set free near TAMHIM refugee camp.Afew hour later the army arrested within the camp.
The 22 students who were arrested on April 12 were beaten at by the army and their belnogings confiscated.Five of them were released on July 4,and another hatch of 15 students were released a day later.Ten of them went back to the refugee camp where they were subsequently arrested.
The students are refugees fleeing the fighting and they were returning to the refugee camp because they had nowhere else to go. TAMHIM is a large camp with a population of over 7,500. The Thai authorities have restricted the movement of the refugee since the beginning of last month.
All Burma Students' Democratic Front(ABSDF)