Myanmar People Fleeing Conflict Won’t Be Pushed Back by Thailand

By Kavi Chongkittavorn 14 May 2021

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha pledged Friday to UN Special Envoy to Myanmar, Mrs. Christine Schraner Burgener, that Thailand will not push back people fleeing from conflict in Myanmar.

Prayut gave the guarantee during the meeting at the Government House with Burgener Friday morning. He also took the opportunity to congratulate Burgener, whom he met previously when she served as the ambassador from Switzerland (2009-2015), and lauded her diplomatic ability, which led her to be tasked with overseeing the situation in Myanmar.

Prayut said that Thailand will do everything possible to ensure that the situation in Myanmar moves in the right direction. On humanitarian assistance, he said that the country has long been providing such assistance to neighboring countries. “We will not push back people fleeing conflicts if they face danger,” he emphasized.

Following the coup in Myanmar on Feb. 1, there were reports of sporadic fighting between various armed ethnic groups based along the Thai-Myanmar borders, which have caused thousands of peoples to flee the areas opposite Mae Sot, Tak province and cross over to the Thai side. According to the Ministry of Defense, most of those who fled Myanmar have returned to their villages because the situation has returned to normal.

Burgener, who has been in Bangkok since April 9, has met with Bangkok-based diplomats and stakeholders to exchange views and learn about the situation in Myanmar. Before she arrived in Bangkok, she urged the UN Security Council on March 31 to consider “potentially significant action” to reverse the course of events as “a bloodbath is imminent.”

On the sideline of the Association of South East Asian Nations Leaders’ Meeting in Jakarta at the ASEAN Secretariat, she had the opportunity to meet for one-hour and a half with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chief of the State Administrative Council. She also made another request to visit Myanmar with Min Aung Hlaing.

During the meeting with Burgener, Prayut told the special envoy that Thailand fully supports the five-point consensus agreed at the leaders’ meeting in Jakarta. He also reiterated Thailand’s position of Myanmar’s crisis through the “D4D” principles, which calls for de-escalation of violence, delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance, discharge of political detainees and dialogue participation. These four Ds, he said, would lead Myanmar back to normalcy and sustainable development.

The “D4D” principles were put forward by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at the ASEAN meeting. Don spoke on behalf of Prayut as his special envoy. At the meeting, he also proposed the setting up “Friends of the Chairs,” which will allow the ASEAN chair to appoint representatives to help out with the challenge facing the bloc.

Thailand shares a 2401 kilometer porous border with Myanmar, which has yet to be demarcated. Currently, there are approximately 100,000 displaced persons from Myanmar living in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. As of the first quarter of this year, Thailand hosts more than 2.3 million migrant workers from Myanmar who have registered with the Ministry of Labor.

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