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The following is an update circulated at the Briefing on Human Rights in
Burma, at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

SLORC Offensives and Forced Relocations Lead to Human Rights Crisis on the
Thai/Burmese Border
April 8, 1997

A humanitarian and human rights crisis now exists along the Thai/Burmese
border.  In an attempt to solidify its hold over the civilian population and
territory, the ruling Burmese military regime, the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), launched a major offensive against the Karen
National Union (KNU) and the civilian populations in the region in February
1997.  Similiarly, SLORC is also continuing its massive forced relocation
campaigns in Karenni and Shan areas.  In all these areas (see map on reverse
side), systematic human rights abuses prevail, including summary executions,
torture, rape, arbitrary detention, forced porterage and forced labor, and
the burning and looting of villages.  

Because of the SLORC campaigns and the resulting human rights abuses,
hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to live in relocations
sites, are internally diplaced or, if they are fortunate, have fled to
Thailand.  Exact numbers are difficult to nail down, but estimates can be
made.  There are now 120,000 people living in refugee camps just inside the
Thai border; 20,000 people have arrived in the past two months because of
the offensive against the KNU.  In addition, approximately 40,000 Shan
people have reached Thailand fleeing the forced relocations, but they have
not been permitted to establish refugee camps.  Another 300,000 Burmese from
various ethnic groups have also come to Thailand and have been labelled
"illegal economic migrants" though most have fled because of the massive
forced relocation and forced labor campaigns in Burma.  This brings the
total number of dislocated Burmese people inside Thailand to at least
450,000 people.  Added to those who have been able to reach Thailand--who
are the fortunate ones--are the hundreds of thousands of internally
displaced persons inside Burma.  It is estimated that for every person that
has reached Thailand, there is at least one still inside Burma who would
flee if they were able.  SLORC now controls almost the entire border with
Thailand and has blocked the evacuation routes of thousands who wish to
flee. Thousands of villagers are still scattered in the jungles along the
border with inadequate food and water supplies, poor shelter and no access
to medicine.  Thousands of others have given up trying to reach Thailand and
have gone to the ordered forced relocations sites which have similiarly poor

Adding insult to injury, SLORC and SLORC-supported forces now terrorize the
refugees just inside the Thai border--threatening to burn down their homes
and force them to return to Burma.  Indeed, in January, two refugee camps
were burnt to the ground, leaving more than 10,000 people homeless. Several
other camps have been attacked this year as well, leaving the refugees all
along the border frightened and vulnerable.

Making the situation worse has been the change in Thai policy toward these
refugees.  In the area around Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi, the Thai 9th Army
Division has forcibly repatriated several groups of refugees on a few
occasions, including forcing boys as young as ten years old back into an
active war zone.  These repatriations and the recent announcement by the
Thai National Security Council that all the refugees will be sent back to
Burma as soon as the situation is "peaceful and safe" has raised fears even
further among the refugees who have already suffered enormously.

This crisis along the Thai/Burmese border calls for international
humanitarian assistance to help those in need of immediate food and
supplies.  In addition, the security of the refugees should be improved by
moving the camps further inside Thailand.  Finally, the international
community should do all it can to pressure the SLORC regime to stop its
campaign of force against its own civilian populations and the political
opposition groups in the country.
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