Naypyidaw Demands Thai Crackdown on Burmese Dissidents


Source from Irrawaddy news, 26 July 2011

Thailand’s Tak governor has revealed that the Burmese authorities asked Thailand to crackdown on Burmese dissidents based in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sot.

Governor Samart Loifah told reporters on Monday that the Thai authorities will tackle dissidents “planting bombs” and leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU)—the largest rebel group fighting for ethnic autonomy and respect for human rights.

During bilateral meetings to negotiate reopening the Thai-Burmese friendship bridge, Burmese representatives asked their Thai counterparts to remove refugee camps from Thailand which they complain are home to ethnic armed groups. Burmese officials also complained about KNU leaders living in Thailand, claims the Tak governor.

“The Burmese government has put pressure on their Thai counterparts to take action on these issues. And the closure of the Myawaddy-Mae Sot bridge is related to these issues,” Samart Loifah told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
“If we act on these issues, we hope the Burmese government could reopen the bridge,” he added.

Responding to the allegations, KNU Joint-Secretary Saw Hla Ngwe said that their leaders are based in their mobilized territory [within Burma] and not in Mae Sot.

KNU leaders said that any democratic nation does not force back refugees to unstable and conflict-ridden areas, and that he did not think the Thai authorities would send refugees home.

The Myawaddy-Mae Sot bridge was closed on July 17, 2010, with no explicit date set for it to reopen. Mae Sot businessmen expected the border crossing could resume soon after the Burma elections in November, but there has been no change so far.

Border trading in recent years was estimated at 140 billion baht or US $4.3 billion until the bridge closure. The crossing boasted 60 percent of bilateral trading along the 1,800 km Burmese-Thai border.

Since Mae Sot is a significant border route and checkpoint for millions of Burmese migrant workers, many Burmese-related NGOs and exiled dissidents are based there.

Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the situation in Mae Sot remains normal.

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