Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) has said that the Thai authorities’ recent handover of three resistance detainees to the military regime is a violation of international police procedures, as it threatens the safety of Myanmar people seeking refuge in Thailand. The fate of the three detainees remains unknown.
Three members of the well-known resistance group Lion Battalion Commando Column were arrested on April 1 by Thai authorities in the border town of Mae Sot. Ko Thiha, deputy head of the column, Ko Htet Nay Win, a media relations officer, and Ko Saw Phyo Lay had traveled to Mae Sot for medical treatment, officials from Lion Battalion Commando Column told the media.
On April 4, Thai immigration authorities handed over the three men to the junta-allied Border Guard Force (BGF) in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, despite efforts by the Karen National Union, the major ethnic revolutionary group in Karen State, to mediate with Thai officials for their release.
Citing witnesses, Lion Battalion Commando Column officials told the media that two of the detainees were shot by BGF forces after attempting to escape by jumping off the boat taking them across the Moei River to Karen State.
One detainee suffered a chest injury, while the other was wounded in his leg.
Subsequently, the three detainees were reportedly handed over to the regime by the BGF, according to Lion Battalion Commando Column.
Some sources told The Irrawaddy that the detainees are now being interrogated by junta forces in Mawlamyine, the capital of Mon State. However, the claim has yet to be verified independently.
In a statement released Friday, the NUG said that the handover of the detainees to the regime is a violation of international police procedures by the Thai authorities.
The NUG added that the return of the detainees threatens the life and safety of Myanmar citizens who have been displaced by the oppressive and atrocious acts of the junta and sought refuge in Thailand.
NUG spokesperson U Nay Phone Latt told The Irrawaddy: “This action [handing over the detainees] is not in line with international police procedures. They will be tortured by the junta, and perhaps even killed. The Thai authorities could have taken action against them under immigration laws if they have broken Thai law.”
U Nay Phone Latt added: “According to our latest information, the trio are still alive.”
On April 5 and 6, several ethnic Karen resistance groups and People’s Defense Forces, including the Lion Battalion Commando Column, attacked and seized five bases of the junta-allied BGF near the Chinese-backed Shwe Kokko New Town gambling and crime hub in Myawaddy Township.
At least 85 BGF members were killed and over 75 weapons seized, according to the resistance groups.