Human rights groups in Thailand are criticizing the government for forcibly repatriating three men who were allegedly members of an anti-government resistance movement in Myanmar. Saying Gen. Prayut’s government was sending the men to their deaths.
The Bangkok-based People’s Empowerment Foundation group stated that the move breached universal human rights norms as well as Thai policy because the men’s lives were likely to be jeopardized as a result of their activities battling Myanmar’s government.
“Given the generalized violence in Myanmar, all Myanmar nationals in Thailand should be granted temporary protective status, and no one should be forced to return to a situation where they may face grave human rights violations,” Fortify Rights’ Patrick Phongsathorn said Tuesday.
According to a document released to local media and seen by The Associated Press from Thailand’s National Security Council, the repatriation followed official procedure and the men had not identified themselves as combatants in Myanmar’s often-brutal civil strife.
According to Myanmar’s independent media, which operates underground and in exile, the three men were members of the Lion Battalion Commando and crossed into Thailand last month to have at least one of them treated for injuries.
Heavy fighting in eastern Myanmar
For the past two weeks, there has been heavy fighting in eastern Myanmar’s Myawaddy township, as part of an ongoing conflict that began in February 2021, when the army deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic administration. When nonviolent protests against military rule were met with brutal force, armed rebellion erupted across the country.
According to Myanmar media reports, the three males, Thiha, 38, Saw Phyo Lay, 26, and Htet Naing Win, 31, were apprehended on March 31 at a Thai road checkpoint and deported to Myanmar on April 4.
According to reports, the men were taken aboard a boat across the boundary, the Moei River. They attempted to flee but were shot and wounded before being apprehended by Myanmar’s Border Guard Force, which is made up of ethnic minority militias affiliated with the military government.
They were eventually handed over to Myanmar’s military by the Border Guard Force. One person was said to have died as a result of his injuries, however the specifics of their repatriation, which were linked to their resistance organisation and witnesses, could not be independently corroborated.
The Thai government has not provided a comprehensive public account of what occurred, but according to a leaked National Security Council document, the three men were among a larger group of Myanmar nationals apprehended after crossing illegally into Thailand and were not singled out for deportation. Last week, thousands of villagers escaped conflict in Myanmar and were offered temporary sanctuary in Thailand’s Tak region.
Opposition parties express concern
The three guys were arrested at a checkpoint, had no passports or identification, and were charged with illegal entrance, according to the document. According to the report, the three claimed officials they had entered Thailand to attend the burial of a friend’s mother.
According to the paper, Thai officials were not informed that the men were anti-government insurgents in Myanmar, and no organisations had contacted them to request that they not be returned.
The People’s Empowerment Foundation disputed the NSC narrative, claiming the guys were not part of a larger group of inmates. It also stated that local human rights organisations approached officials to address the men’s predicament but were urged to return the next day. The soldiers had already been returned when they did so, it added.
“Thai border security officials are well aware that the Border Guard Force (BGF) is not a safe haven for Myanmar nationals fleeing conflict.” Sending the three men to BGF territory means sending them to their deaths by torture. “What motivated Thai security officials to act in this manner?” the group asked in a statement issued Monday.
Two Thai political parties expressed similar concerns.
Rangsiman Rome, a spokesperson for the opposition Move Forward Party, said on Saturday that the repatriation highlighted Thailand’s good relationship with Myanmar’s military administration.
Another opposition party, the Commoners’ Party, stated on Saturday that Thai authorities may have broken international law.