FOLLOWING the interrogation of around a hundred Myanmar people found residing in buildings at a commercial complex in Mae Sot Amnesty International today (Mar. 24) urged the Thai government to not deport them as they face imprisonment, torture or execution on the orders of the Myanmar junta, Matichon newspaper said today (Mar. 24).
Amnesty International Myanmar researcher Nang Sein said Thailand had in the past supported and provided humanitarian assistance to refugees across the region. As a neighbouring country of Myanmar and an Asean member Thailand can play a role in providing essential protection to people fleeing persecution and repression in Myanmar.
“Myanmar citizens fleeing across the border still live in fear because they may be sent back to their country and do not know their destiny. Many people fled their homeland after the coup in February 2021 to escape Myanmar army’s brutal crackdown on protests. They are in danger for just participating in peaceful assembly or because of their political beliefs. They don’t know who to turn to. And there are not many opportunities to make a living,” he said.
Local community sources told Amnesty International that the Thai authorities have a list of people targeted for arrest including former civil servants who joined the civil disobedience movement, politicians, activists and members of the armed resistance group.
It is estimated that around a hundred people, including children, were interrogated on Wednesday March 22 but released the same day.
The next day the Thai authorities raided another building where Myanmar people reside and took photos, the local community sources said.
It was earlier reported that soldiers of the 14th Infantry Regiment Task Force, Naresuan Force, Tak Immigration and Mae Sot district officials took control of a commercial complex comprising 40 units of four-storey buildings in a densely populated area on Tan Diao road.
This followed an investigation showing that various anti-junta groups, especially the People’s Defence Force (PDF), had after fleeing Myanmar freely rented countless houses at this border town.
This is part of their political movement and it was reported that foreign international organisations were also involved.
In the raid of these commercial buildings it was found that around 200 members of Myanmar resistance groups resided there including youths, middle-aged and elderly folk but many managed to flee.
Found there were military equipment, uniforms of various resistance groups, drones of various sizes, medical equipment and more importantly ammunition.
The Thai security team seized all the items and intensely questioned the Myanmar residents of these commercial buildings.
Sources said these commercial units had been abandoned for many years but have now been renovated and turned into a bustling Myanmar community after an investor leased it. It is run like a hotel or a shelter in the middle of Mae Sot with there being guards in charge. The press was not allowed into the complex.
One Thai security official said around 50,000 anti-Myanmar junta people were now living in Mae Sot and working in many sectors or have opened restaurants and shops. They freely rent houses and hotels to live in without any control or registration with most officials saying they are backed by international organisations and cannot be pushed back to their country.
The commercial complex in Mae Sot where a large number of Myanmar people live was raided by Thai authorities. Photo: Matichon
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