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Plan to move Burmese refugees to bo

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
August 12, 2000, Saturday

Plan to move Burmese refugees to border scrapped; Burma closes
border post

Source: 'Puchatkan', Bangkok, in Thai 10 Aug 00 p 17

Burma closes the border at Mae Sot

Excerpts from report by Thai newspaper 'Puchatkan' on 10th August

Northern Region News Centre: The authority in charge of the Thai-Burmese
border area has issued aninstruction prohibiting demonstrations against the
relocation of political refugees from Bangkok to the refugee centre at
Ban Um Piam. The UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has halted its
relocation plan, claiming fear of exploitation by third parties. Rumour has 
in the border areas of Tak Province about the National Security Council's 
plan to relocate Hmong from Tham Krabok to the province. The Burmese
government has closed the border between Myawaddi and Mae Sot to
discourage Burmese students who fled to Thailand from creating disturbance
of peace in Burmese territory.

Regarding developments in the opposition by the local people in Tak to the
policy, to be implemented by the NSC and funded by the UNHCR, to
relocate 85 Burmese political refugees from Bangkok and other surrounding
provinces to the shelter centre at Ban Um Piam, Phopphra District, Tak
Province, on 4th August the Phopphra District administration issued a
statement for  dissemination by village and subdistrict chiefs.

The statement said: Referring to the NSC policy to relocate 85
Burmese persons of concern to the shelter centre at Ban Um Piam
on 3rd August, which received resistance from the people in Phopphra
District and nearby districts, the Phopphra District administration has
been informed that the UNHCR has discontinued the relocation of the
85 Burmese to the shelter centre. For this reason, it is improper
for any individuals or groups to persuade you or your family members
to carry out a demonstration against the Burmese persons of concern,
and their action may have hidden selfish motives. Moreover, third parties
could exploit the demonstration by the masses for other purposes other
than to oppose the Burmese students, to the detriment of the country
and the demonstration participants themselves.

In any event, despite the confirmation by the local administration and
the UNHCR that the relocation of the 85 Burmese political refugees
has been abolished, the opposition by the local people to the
  relocation has not completely subsided. This is because the NSC still
has the policy of sending some400 political refugees, who earlier fled
the Um Piam centre to find employment in Bangkok and the
surrounding provinces, back to the centre. On 12th August, NSC
Secretary-General Khachatphai Burutphat is scheduled to brief the local
communities in Tak about the plan...

Moreover, rumour has spread in Mae Sot that in addition to the [abolished]
planned relocation of Burmese political refugees to the shelter centre along
  the border, the NSC has a policy of relocating Hmong in Tham Krabok,
Saraburi Province, to Tak Province. However, so far there is no confirmation
of such policy.

According to a most recent report, on 9th August the Burmese government
ordered closure of the border at the Thailand-Burma Friendship Bridge
which links Mae Sot and Myawaddi and at other temporary crossing points
on the Moei River. Foot as well as vehicle traffic were banned out of fear by
the Burmese side of possible activities by Burmese students along the
border. August the eighth is the 12th anniversary of the demand for
democracy in Burma. Burmese intelligence units had information that
anti-Burmese group which called itself the 8888 (which is derived from
8th August of 1988) might carry out disruption of peace.

 From 8th August, Burmese students who had taken shelter in the
Tak-Mae Hong Son border areas organized gatherings and events
to pay respect to the fallen heroes. The federation of Burmese students
in Tak issued a statement to express determination to continue the
struggle against the Burmese government.