Opponents in Myanmar face fear and uncertainty in Thailand | Refugee Stories

After Myanmar’s military coup plotted on February 1, Kaung Latt’s career changed dramatically. A staunch supporter of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government and well-known in the media and hundreds of thousands of supporters, Kaung Latt knew he could be beaten.

Early in the morning, when security forces began to surround NLD officials, freedom fighters and celebrities, Kaung Latt went into hiding. A neighbor later told him that security guards had come to his house twice the same day looking for him.

The following month, Kaung Latt hid with various friends in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, but was later released by the military. ” [his] popularity of “publicity” on television, “in order to break the law of the land,” thought it dangerous to be with the recipient.

After failing to leave the country, he secretly crossed into Thailand in early March, where he remained ill.

“I don’t feel good here because I don’t have a license,” he said. “This is my first time coming to a country without documents, and I feel a little less – as if I had lost my name.”

Kaung Latt is one of three people Al Jazeera spoke to who have fled to Thailand because of the threats they have faced since the government did this. The Thai government does not discriminate against refugees or asylum seekers, and considers immigrants or immigrants to be allowed to enter or become “illegal immigrants”. Fearing for their lives if they return to Myanmar but find no way to escape to Thailand, the protesters are trying to enter the third country for humanitarian aid. They say they are worried about their future and are trying to cope with the terrible reminders that are going on in their home.

To protect the safety of the people named in this article and their families, Al Jazeera has used fake names and disclosed some of their accounts.

This, by Kaung Latt, changed his life, destroying his career and security in Myanmar. “I was always worried that [security forces] he can come and arrest me, ”he said. Fearing that he might be tortured or disappeared when he was captured by the military, he began to feel unwell. “I don’t have a heart attack but I feel pain in my left chest, and when I told my friends, they said it was caused by a problem I had,” he said.

Seven months after the government took over, his grief for his country or his security concerns disappeared. “I still remember the first outbreak in February of shock, hurt and theft of my vote,” he said, adding that he was still embroiled in a nightmare that the soldiers were hunting for him. “I feel fine here [in Thailand] but I am in danger, ”he told Al Jazeera.

In August, he decided to begin seeking asylum in a third country. His friend held him hostage to the foreign embassy, ​​and is now awaiting their response to his case.

“Since I lost my name, I am trying to regain my status,” he said by telephone from a town on the Thai border. “When I am known again when I settle down, I will support my country as much as I can.”

‘I was worried about my life’

During the former war in Myanmar, which lasted from 1962 to 2011, the Thai border town of Mae Sot and the northern city of Chiang Mai became a rallying point. In the 1980’s, the war in southeastern Myanmar sparked more than 20 years of mass exodus, and nine camps were set up on the Thai border, with the help of a non-governmental organization.

The number of refugees in these camps reached 150,000 in 2005, following the dozen who were deported to third countries. Hundreds of refugees have returned to Myanmar through a repatriation program launched by the Thai and Myanmar governments in 2016, but difficult to include the presence of soldiers in refugee villages, fear of new conflicts and unarmed mines, and weak training, medical care it’s life. The election left many hesitant to return. Today, more than 90,000 refugees remain in camps.

Since the coup in February, tens of thousands of people from Myanmar have fled to Thailand following a plane crash and gunfire on the southeastern border, but Thailand has not given them any security.

Late in March, when more than 2,000 people tried to cross the border during airstrikes in Karen State, they were forced to return, according to human rights groups, although Thai officials said the retaliation was safe and voluntary.

Thousands more crossed the border in Thailand to escape the insurgents in the Karen district in April, May and June; human rights groups say they too have been forced to return or have been forced to return.

Disappointed people and others who fled Thailand after being tortured in Myanmar are also at risk. In March, three journalists and two human rights activists were arrested in Chiang Mai and sentenced to seven months in prison for trespassing. Amid the cries of the freedom fighters, they were given protection in an unknown third country.

Meanwhile, Myanmar journalists from Irrawaddy announced on September 7 that Thai police had been warned to arrest anyone affiliated with Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) found to be living in Thailand and seizing areas suspected of protecting NUG members.

One of Myanmar’s military activists wants to take part in a protest against the invasion and attack of the military on television is Ko Moe, an artist.

After fleeing his hometown of Yangon in March, Ko Moe had no intention of going to Thailand. “Even though I was at a crossroads, I had no idea where I was going or where I was going. In addition, if the Thai police arrest me and send me to Myanmar, it could be very bad for me, ”he said.

He took refuge for the first time with relatives in Yangon, but when the situation became serious, he sought refuge in a military base on the Thai border, arriving there in April shortly before his arrest.

Armed groups, some of which have fought in the military for years, have protected thousands of human rights activists and dissidents since the re-emergence of the government, even as the war intensified in their area. Ko Moe said soldiers from Myanmar’s militia group were near the house where he lived, and were afraid to go outside.

His friend helped him set up an application for asylum in a third country, but he had to stay outside Myanmar to comply with international law.

After some serious thought, she decided to go to Thailand.

Finally, before leaving Myanmar, he wrote a dissertation on the need for people to come together to sympathize with one another. “I want to give a message to the people of Myanmar that I have them as talents,” he told Al Jazeera. That same day, with the help of friends, he secretly crossed the border.

“The main reason I came back here is because I was worried about my life… that [security forces] He could arrest me at night and call my relatives the next day to collect the body, ”he said.

While Ko Moe feels safe in Thailand, he avoided going out due to lack of documents. He is now looking forward to going to a third country, having already completed his analysis.

Staying in secret

The number of people from Myanmar who fled to Thailand for fear of being selected by the military because the plot is difficult to quantify, as many of those who fled – like Ko Moe – have no documents and lives in hiding.

Thailand promised in 2016 to develop national surveillance systems to identify those in need of protection, and in December 2019, it agreed to implement surveillance systems. It came into effect in June 2020, but according to Naiyana Thanawattho, executive director of Asylum Access Thailand, details of how the law will be implemented are still being discussed, and have yet to be implemented.

Asylum Access Thailand is one of more than 40 groups calling on Thailand to speed up the implementation of the law and to ensure that non-governmental organizations that promote the rights of refugees and citizens are not properly represented in the negotiations.

The members of the coalition hope that the monitoring measures will enable those seeking refuge and refugee status to live and work in Thailand without the risk of arrest or deportation. But some of the concerns are that those living in refugee camps, immigrants, and new arrivals may not be legally recognized. The committee set up to review their grievances includes a number of members from the security services.

“We fear that the purpose of the law is to exclude people instead of protecting people,” Thanawattho said. “[The government] they should not exclude refugees from protection. ”

The choices made in the protection of the third world are also very limited. In 2020, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, identified 20.7 million refugees worldwide, less than 1% of whom were deported.

Al Jazeera has contacted governments of eight countries with a history of humanitarian assistance from Myanmar, as well as the UN refugee agency, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, but has not been able to confirm the number of victims of Myanmar’s military crackdown since then. when the government repatriated them they received protection in a third country.

New Zealand has said it has received refugee and security claims from Myanmar nationals in the country, all under consideration, while Germany has accepted six asylum requests since the government gained power. Australia has received 2,097 diplomas in aid of visas for Myanmar nationals at the time, but it does not say how many people it protects.

The United Kingdom did not give details when the United States, the Netherlands, Spain and Canada did not respond.

Explaining the reasons for privacy and security, UNHCR declined to comment on the type of security, if any, provided during refugee camps in Thailand.

‘I want to be legal’

Kaung Htoo is one of those who have been able to contact a foreign ambassador and ask for protection from a third country, but currently he needs help from any agency in Thailand and fears arrest, he just goes outside when needed and his wife and children do not go abroad at all.

The professor joined a rebel group and went on strike from central Myanmar a few weeks later. In May, shortly after the university year, the state-run radio station announced its name on the official list, warning that those who tried to hide academic staff from arrest would also be prosecuted.

The next day, Kaung Htoo embarked on a grueling journey through the jungle with his wife and children, crossing into Thailand a few days before the authorities saw their home. “We had no idea what to do or [what organisations] connect when we arrive in Thailand. Our friends told us not to go outside or we would be arrested, ”he said.

Some friends from Myanmar helped the couple find a place to live in the village north of the town, and in August, her parents took her along. “In Myanmar I became a professor for 17 years. As a civil servant, I never even drank,” he said. “I want to be legal.”

With this in mind, and the desire for her children to continue their education, she decided to explore how she could protect herself in a third country with her family and contacted the foreign ambassador and began monitoring.

“[My wife and I] we especially think about the future of our children when we think about what we want to do, ”he said.

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