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DEMONSTRATION IN HUAY KA LOKE REFUG
Subject: DEMONSTRATION IN HUAY KA LOKE REFUGEE CAMP
Demonstration in the Huay Ka Loke refugee camp
Date: February 24, 1997
Between 7:00-9:30 AM, on February 17, 1997, Karen refugees from Huay Ka Loke refugee camp in Thailand staged a demonstration standing in dusty field following the burning of houses by the SLORC and DKBA. Sadly, over 1400 houses, that used to house more th
an 7000 refugees, have been burnt down due to these border incursion recently. More than 1,000 refugees holding posters painted with slogans marched from their various burnt wards and gather at a location that was clear of the remains of their homes in or
der to participate in the demonstration. Some wrote the slogans on half-burnt corrugated iron sheets and laid them at the front of the crowd.
Refugee Camp leaders delivered speeches concerning the lack of human rights for these refugees, after taking position on a makeshift stage and raised banners stating their pleas to Royal Thai Government for improved security for the refugees. The banners
also condemned the SLORC for its aggression against innocent civilians on Thai soil and the SLORC's military offensive which resulted further influx of refugees into Thai soil. The Slogans are described below. "The demonstrations were not instigated by KN
U officials and we, ourselves are just asking for improved security conditions for the refugees and have disclosed this to the international community in order to prevent the deterioration of the situation for these Karen refugees on Thailand-Burma border
," said a refugee camp leader. "This is the very first demonstration held by Karen refugees," said another camp leader. "We hope that there will be further demonstrations in future if our rights are not respected, said a young refugee.
Huay Ka Loke refugee camp in Thai side was torched by more than 100 troops of SLORC and DKBA troops on January 28, 1997, leaving 686 houses burnt down. At the same time Huay Pan refugee camp was also set on fire, resulting in the destruction of 654 houses
At 6:25 AM on January 29th, 1997, 200 SLORC and DKBA troops entered Bakalaw refugee camp in Thai side and set fire to the camp destroying 17 houses. A 59 year old woman named Daw Ing Sein, and one unarmed man were killed.
On February 16th, 1997, 16 houses were destroyed when a fire started in Maw Kel refugee camp in Thai side. It is still not clear how the fire was started, and the possibility of SLORC and DKBA involvement has not been entirely ruled out.
Another fire started in Sho Ka Lo refugee camp on February 18th, leaving many refugees homeless. Again, the possibility of SLORC and DKBA involvement have not been ruled out.
SLORC and DKBA have been repeatedly threatening refugees by circulating warning letters about re-commencing further attacks in the near future.
The recent offensive launched on the KNU 6th Brigade area resulted in over 15,000 refugees fleeing across the Thailand-Burma border. More refugees are expected to cross into Thailand in near future as some refugees have been trapped in the jungle due to
SLORC troops blocking access to Thailand. Moreover, a simultaneous military offensive against KNU 4th Brigade (Mergui-Tavoy District) has been launched. More attacks on the refugee camps by the SLORC and DKBA troops are expected, resulting in further huma
n rights violations against refugees and further violations of Thailand's sovereignty. These attacks and cross-border incursions will have serious consequences on regional stability.
THE SLOGANS CONTAINED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS AND PLEAS
"Long Live their majesties the King and Queen of Thailand."
"We are genuine Karen refugees temporarily living in Thailand. We thank the Thai authorities for letting us stay in Thailand."
"The action to destroy our refugee camps is the plan of the SLORC military government."
"We request the Thai authorities to protect us."
"We request the Thai Buddhist leadership to meet with the SLORC and DKBA leaders to not send their soldiers to attack us again."
" We request world Buddhist organisations to take strong action against SLORC and DKBA for this action of burning our refugee camps."
"We request Thai authorities and ASEAN to reconsider their Constructive Engagement policy with SLORC."
"We request Thai authorities not to forcibly repatriate us."
"We request Thai government assistance for the rebuilding of our refugee camps at a new secure location."
"Our homes are burned but our hearts are on fire."
"We are human beings, not animals."
"SLORC is killing our people."
"SLORC kill us even in Thailand."
SLORC set fire to our villages in Thailand."
"Karen refugees are human beings."
"ASEAN, Don't turn a blind eye to refugee rights."
"Buddha said not to kill us."