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Threatened return of Burmese asylum-seekers from Thailand to Burma
See also Refoulement, push-backs and rejection at borders

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Non-refoulement
Description/subject: Non-refoulement is a principle of the international law, i.e. of customary and trucial Law of Nations which forbids the rendering a true victim of persecution to their persecutor; persecutor generally referring to a state-actor (country/government). Non-refoulement is a key facet of refugee law, that concerns the protection of refugees from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened. Unlike political asylum, which applies to those who can prove a well-grounded fear of persecution based on membership in a social group or class of persons, non-refoulement refers to the generic repatriation of people, generally refugees into war zones and other disaster areas. Non-refoulement is a jus cogens (peremptory norm) of international law that forbids the expulsion of a refugee into an area, usually their home-country, where the person might be again subjected to persecution.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Wikipedia
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 August 2012


Individual Documents

Title: Ceasefires and Durable Solutions in Myanmar: a lessons learned review.....Commentary: IDPs and refugees in the current Myanmar peace process
Date of publication: March 2014
Description/subject: "Over six decades of ethnic conflict in Myanmar have generated displacement crises just as long. At the time of writing there are an estimated 640,747 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myanmar, and 415,373 refugees originating from the country.However, these figures are not fully indicative of levels of forced migration, as obtaining reliable data for IDPs remains difficult, while millions of regular and irregular migrants have also left the country, often fleeing similar conditions to those faced by documented refugees and IDPs. Since a new government came into power in 2011, it has managed to secure fresh ceasefire agreements with the majority of the country’s ethnonationalist armed groups (EAGs), potentially inching one step closer to a lasting solution for the country’s hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs. As the possibility for voluntary return and resettlement of displaced people opens up, there is a lot to learn from a look back at past ceasefire periods in Myanmar where movements of such populations have taken place. Focusing on the cases of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) ceasefire in 1994, and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) ceasefire in 1995, which had very different impacts on the displaced populations affected, this paper aims to provide lessons for the current transition..." Jolliffe)....."This commentary reflects on some key findings emerging from Kim Jolliffe’s paper on lessons learned from previous ceasefire agreements in Myanmar, and examines how issues relating to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been addressed in the current ceasefires and emerging peace process in Myanmar. The main focus of both papers are the Kachin situation (past and present), a case study of historic forced migration and attempted solutions in Mon areas, and the current situation in Karen areas. Comprehensive treatment of these issues would have to take into account (inter alia) the contexts in western Myanmar, and Shan and Karenni/Kayah areas..." (South)
Author/creator: Kim Jolliffe (paper); Ashley South (Commentary)
Language: English
Source/publisher: United Nations - Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Format/size: pdf (915K-reduced version; 1.18MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=533927c39&query=%22New%20is...
Date of entry/update: 13 October 2014


Title: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return
Date of publication: 02 June 2013
Description/subject: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return: Preliminary Recommendations to the Government of Myanmar, Ethnic Actors and the International Community.....Executive Summary: "Of the many challenging issues that will require resolution within the peace processes currently underway between the government of Myanmar and various ethnic groups in the country, few will be as complex, sensitive and yet vital than the issues comprising housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Viewed in terms of the rights of the sizable internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee populations who will be affected by the eventual peace agreements, and within the broader political reform process, HLP rights will need to form a key part of all of the ongoing moves to secure a sustainable peace, and be a key ingredient within all activities dedicated to ending displacement in Myanmar today. The Government Myanmar (including the military) and its various ethnic negotiating partners – just as with all countries that have undergone deep political transition in recent decades, including those emerging from lengthy conflicts – need to fully appreciate and comprehend the nature and scale of the HLP issues that have emerged in past decades, how these have affected and continue to affect the rights and perspectives of justice of those concerned, and the measures that will be required to remedy HLP concerns in a fair and equitable manner that strengthens the foundations for permanent peace. Resolving forced displacement and the arbitrary acquisition and occupation of land, addressing the HLP and other human rights of returning refugees and IDPs in areas of return, ensuring livelihood and other economic opportunities and a range of other measures will be required if return is be sustainable and imbued with a sense of justice. There is an acute awareness among all of those involved in the ongoing peace processes of the centrality of HLP issues within the context of sustainable peace, however, all too little progress has thus far been made to address these issues in any detail, nor have practical plans commenced to resolve ongoing displacement of either refugees or IDPs. Indeed, the negotiating positions of both sides on key HLP issues differ sharply and will need to be bridged; many difficult decisions remain to be made..."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Alternate URLs: http://displacementsolutions.org
http://displacementsolutions.org/landmark-report-launch-bridging-the-housing-land-and-property-gap-in-myanmar/
Date of entry/update: 17 June 2013


Title: Karen Refugees Committee’s 10 points to repatriation
Date of publication: 26 March 2013
Description/subject: The KRC’s statement said that 10 key points had to be met in order for a repatriation process to be put in place that did not undermine the lives of refugees: (1) Nationwide ceasefire should be observed, (2) There should be sustainable peace and political conflicts should be settled, (3) Provision of universal human rights must be respected, (4) Relocated areas should be freed from land mines and security should be given a priority, (5) The relocated areas should be suitable for one to support their livelihood; favourable land should be provided adequately for one family, (6) Health certificates, education certificates received should be recognised by the government, (7) We will not tolerate force repatriation; it should be one’s own decision or voluntary return, (8) Adequate preparation should be given to return, (9) Right should be given to the Committee concerned regarding repatriation and allow them to inspect location and collect necessary information, (10) The repatriation can only take place when the concerned organisations, KRC, INGOs, NGOs, UNHCR, and CBOs agree that there is a genuine peace in Burma
Language: English
Source/publisher: KRC via KIC via BNI
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 March 2013


Title: Thai authorities say 700 Rohingya who entered Thailand illegally will be sent back to Myanmar
Date of publication: 11 January 2013
Description/subject: "...Thai authorities said Friday that about 700 people from Myanmar’s beleaguered Rohingya minority who had entered Thailand illegally were found in two separate raids in the country’s south and that they would be sent back to Myanmar. Police and government officials found 307 Rohingya asylum seekers during a search Friday at a warehouse in Sadao district in Songkhla province, police Maj. Col. Thanusin Duangkaewngam said. On Thursday, nearly 400 Rohingya were found in a raid in the same district..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: AP via "Washington Post"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 13 January 2013


Title: Position on the Repatriation of Refugees from Burma
Date of publication: 12 December 2012
Description/subject: "After the Karenni Refugee Committee (KnRC) organized three workshops on September 20-21st, November 9th and October 8-10th, attended by representatives of KnRC, Karenni community based organizations and religious leaders, the groups agreed on a common position paper on refugees’ repatriation as follow. Although the situation in Burma has improved and democratic reforms have taken place in the last year and a half, the changes seem to be reversible. There is no political stability due to ongoing conflict in some ethnic areas, no rule of law, no security for refugee returnees, and more importantly, a genuine peace hasn’t been established in the country. Thus, it is obvious that this is not the time for the refugees to return yet. The repatriation of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) must be in line with international principle; the return must be voluntary in “conditions of safety and dignity.” Before the refugees return to Burma, the following pre-conditions must be in place:..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karenni Refugee Committee and Karenni Community Based Organizations
Format/size: pdf (438K)
Date of entry/update: 17 December 2012


Title: The Situation of Refugees on the Thai-Burma Border
Date of publication: 11 December 2012
Description/subject: "Since the initiation of President Thein Sein’s limited reforms in Burma and the signature of preliminary ceasefires agreements with some of the ethnic armed groups, the issue of refugee return is becoming increasingly prominent. According to The Border Consortium (formerly the Thailand Burma Border Consortium) there are approximately 160,000 refugees on the Thai-Burma border. The governments of Thailand and Burma have made no illusions as to their aims: to repatriate the refugees as soon as possible. Donors and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have already started preparing refugees’ return while community-based organizations (CBOs) that constitute and represent refugees are trying to bring the refugees’ voices to the decision makers. The refugees themselves are suffering from a lack of information and clarity as to their own future and as such, tension and anxiety have been building in the refugee camps..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Partnership
Format/size: pdf (138K-OBL version; 700K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmapartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Refugee-Background-Paper.pdf
Date of entry/update: 17 December 2012


Title: Nothing About Us Without Us - Refugees' Voices About Their Return to Burma (video)
Date of publication: 10 December 2012
Description/subject: A powerful video made up of interview clips, mainly with refugees, as well as UNHCR, TBC and other Thailand-based refugee and human rights organisations about the proposed repatriation of Burmese refugees in Thailand back to Burma. The film is especially critical of the lack of consultation by the UNHCR, Burmese and Thai Government with the refugees and community-based organisaations......"Burma Partnership is pleased to announce the launch of a short documentary entitled "Nothing About Us Without Us". The film highlights refugees' voices about repatriation from camps along the Thailand border back into Burma. Featuring interviews with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, leading academics, representatives from civil society organizations and the refugees themselves, the film shows the lack of information currently available to most refugees and outlines the necessity of including refugees in the decision-making and planning processes related to their return to Burma."
Author/creator: Timothy Syrota
Language: Adobe Flash (18 minutes, 40 seconds)
Source/publisher: Burma Partnership
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2012


Title: KRC ATTITUDE AND PERSPECTIVE TOWARDS REPATRIATION (English and Karen)
Date of publication: 03 October 2012
Description/subject: "After the transition from military government to civilian government in Burma, most of the people hope that a positive change could take place. If a genuine and realistic change indeed does take place, then another step in the repatriation process for the people to resettle to their own land would definitely follow. However, the arrangements of any refugee's return should comply according to the standard of international law. KRC, as the main supervisory body, represents 7 camps, approximately 150,000 refugees, and administers all the affairs of the camps’ management and programmes. Thus, KRC has the responsibility to take the lead on developing any plan for repatriation and for co-ordinating with organizations such as NGOs/INGOs and CBOs in this process. In this way, regarding the repatriation, KRC will stand for firstly, the choice of the individual refugee to make their own decision and secondly, the changes in Burma need to be legitimately recognized and recommended by the international communities. Therefore, under the management of KRC - EC, some conditions required as below have been laid down..."
Language: Englsh and Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Refugee Committee (KRC)
Format/size: pdf (99K)
Date of entry/update: 03 October 2012


Title: Karen Community-Based Organizations’ Position on Refugees’ Return to Burma
Date of publication: 11 September 2012
Description/subject: Today a grouping of Karen Community Based Organizations (KCBOs) released their collective position in response to recent news about the repatriation of refugees. The position paper outlines the pre‐conditions and processes necessary for a successful and voluntary return of refugees from several camps along the Thai‐Burma border, back to Karen areas. Repatriation without these pre‐conditions and processes will be against the will of the refugees and will not respect their right to return voluntarily in safety and with dignity. “We are encouraged by the changes in Burma but there are many improvements that would need to happen before refugees would be safe to return,” said Dah Eh Kler from the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO).“We fled the fighting and the abuse by the Burma Army. We know the ceasefires are still fragile and do not yet include an enforceable code of conduct; the troops are still all around our former villages, along with land mines and other dangers. We hope that we can go home one day soon, but it is just not possible under the current conditions in Karen areas. The position paper is a comprehensive view of what the Karen community needs in order to go home. It outlines several pre‐conditions that must be met before refugees return to Burma, including: achievement of a political settlement between ethnic armed groups and the Burma government, agreement on a nationwide ceasefire, guaranteed safety and security for the people, clearance of land‐mines, withdrawal of all Burma Army and militia troops, end of human rights violations, abolishment of all oppressive laws and resolution of land ownership issues. “We have learned from the UNHCR that the Burma government has already planned the locations to which refugees will be repatriated. KCBOs were very surprised to hear this as we and the refugees themselves have not been consulted properly on where, when and how they will be repatriated. Refugees have the right to make free choices on where, when and how they will return to their homeland,” said Ko Shwe from the Karen Environment and Social Action Network (KESAN). In order to make their own choices about their return, the KCBOs have outlined specific processes that must take place, including defining how consultations with refugees and affected communities must be conducted and how refugees and KCBOs must take part in the decision‐making process at all stages, including in preparation, implementation and post‐return phases. For the full list of pre‐conditions and necessary processes, please see the attached position paper......Burma, Karen, myanmar, refugee, repatriation, return, thailand
Language: English
Source/publisher: Women's League of Burma
Format/size: pdf (142K)
Date of entry/update: 12 September 2012


Title: Shan community groups: Don’t push refugees back into active war zone (Press release)
Date of publication: 27 August 2012
Description/subject: Shan community groups are gravely concerned about imminent repatriation of over 500 refugees from a camp on the northern Thai border into an area of active conflict.
Language: Burmese, English, Shan, Thai
Source/publisher: Shan groups via Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF)
Format/size: pdf (109K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.shanhumanrights.org/images/stories/Action_Update/Files/press%20release%20by%20shan%20com...
Date of entry/update: 08 January 2013


Title: "Burma Issues" July - August 2012 Volume 25 Number 15/16 (Special issue on the threat of involuntary return of refugees from Thailand to Burma)
Date of publication: August 2012
Description/subject: The Repatriation Issue By Saw David... Looking Forward To “Living In My Village Without Any Fear” By Saw David... “Not Ready To Return” By Eh Klo Dah... “If They Have No Plan For This, Many Will Die Of Starvation” By Saw David... “I Dare Not To Go Back Home As Long As The Burmese Army Still Fortifies” By Eh Klo Dah... “Perhaps I will Run Away” By Saw David “Just Words, No Action Makes Us Distrustful” By Eh Klo Dah...By Saw David...News in Brief... Karen Women Organisation’s Opinion
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Burma Issues"/Peace Way Foundation
Format/size: pdf (612K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmaissues.org/images/stories/newsletters/july%20august.pdf
Date of entry/update: 05 January 2013


Title: HM (Risk factors for Burmese citizens) Burma CG [2006] UKAIT 00012
Date of publication: 23 January 2006
Description/subject: Final result of the litigation in the United Kingdom on risks to Burmese asylum-seekers from the way in which they may be removed to Burma, including the experiences of Mr Stanley Van Tha. The decision of the UK's Asylum & Immigration Tribunal, issued on 23 January 2006.
Language: English
Source/publisher: UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
Format/size: pdf (97K), html (190K), Word
Alternate URLs: http://www.ait.gov.uk/Public/Upload/j1862/00012_ukait_2006_hm_burma_cg.doc
http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/00012_ukait_2006_hm_burma_cg-1.htm
Date of entry/update: 16 April 2006