Responding to the apartment searches and the interrogation of around 100 Myanmar nationals, including children, in the border town of Mae Sot, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher Nang Sein said:
“Thai authorities must not deport Myanmar nationals back to a country where they could face imprisonment, torture, and even the death penalty at the hands of the Myanmar military.
“Myanmar nationals who have fled across the border still live in fear of being sent back and are stuck in limbo. Many have had to flee their homes since the February 2021 coup to seek safety from the Myanmar military’s violent protest crackdown: they are in danger simply because they participated in peaceful demonstrations, or because of their political beliefs. Now, they have nowhere to go and few opportunities to make a living.
“Thailand has a long history of hosting and providing humanitarian support to refugees across the region. As a neighbouring country of Myanmar and an ASEAN member, Thailand can play a leading role by providing much-needed protection to people fleeing repression in Myanmar.”
“Thai authorities must uphold the principle of non-refoulement enshrined both in international law and its own Act on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance. These people have the right to live with dignity and have access to asylum.”
Immigration, military and local authorities searched apartments in Mae Sot, Tak Province in Thailand on 22 and 23 March.
Amnesty International received information from local community members who stated that the authorities had a list of people targeted for arrest, including military defectors, former government workers who are participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement, politicians, activists and individuals belonging to armed groups.
An estimated 100 people, including children, were interrogated outside their apartments, and later released after questioning on the same day on 22 March. According to one community leader, the authorities searched another building unit housing Myanmar nationals on 23 March in Mae Sot. The community leader stated that the Thai authorities had photos and a list of people wanted by the Myanmar military.
As a State Party to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Thailand is obliged not to deport any individuals at risk of irreparable harm.
More than two years since the Myanmar military’s coup, over 1.4 million people are displaced inside Myanmar, and an estimated 52,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Myanmar nationals who are fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar have for many years sought refuge across the border in Thailand, a trend that has continued since the coup. An estimated 22,400 people have crossed into Thailand since the coup.
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