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Myanmar Refugees Riot Over Alleged Extortion by Camp Officials



Myanmar Refugees Riot Over Alleged Extortion by Camp Officials

In northwestern Thailand’s Tak province, officials battled to regain full control of the Mae La refugee camp after Myanmar refugees began rioting.

According to Yongyut Suksiri, the district chief of Yangon, Myanmar refugees furious by the fees they had to pay to enter and exit the camp broke out in a riot Tuesday night in the camp and surrounding area.

They set ablaze kiosks belonging to officials as well as living quarters, vehicles, and shops belonging both to territorial defence volunteers and refugees.

Camp administrators, police officers, and soldiers were trying to regain control of the situation. Refugees were forbidden earlier this week from leaving the camp, but on Wednesday they were seen leaving and entering the camp freely.

As the protest continued throughout the day, young refugees gathered in groups in the camp.

In an effort to prevent further disturbances, officials tried to contact refugees’ representatives to determine what caused the riot on Tuesday.

Read: Myanmar Military Accused Killing and Burning 11 Villagers

According to reports, Myanmar refugees demanded the transfer of territorial defence volunteers and of the assistant chief in Tha Song Yang district who served as the camp’s leader. The group also allegedly wanted free access into and out of the camp without paying an extortion fee for entering and exiting the refugee camp.

Meanwhile, the district chief said he had no authority to meet their demands and that officials had prevented refugees from leaving the camp because of concerns about Covid-19.

War refugees from Myanmar are housed in a number of camps along the western border. Currently, about 40,000 people live at the Mae La refugee camp, which was established in 1984.

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