An issue that we have been working on for some time with the former political prisoners living in Mae Sot and the refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border is now being accelerated as the date for the elections has been announced, bringing with it the very real threat of the former political prisoners being returned to Burma. You can read previous posts here and here.
Below is the Press Release letter issued by the former political prisoners to Human Rights organisations across the world. We are part of the working group working very hard on this issue so please contact me directly if you can be of assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ex-Political Prisoners of Burma have joined together in an unprecedented call for help from the international community ahead of the elections in Burma set to be held on November 7. The Ex-Political Prisoners, now living in camps on the Thai Burma border, fear forced repatriation from Thailand to Burma after the election and are desperately seeking assistance that is currently unavailable from the UNHCR for a safe haven, if only temporary, in a third country.
The Ex-Political Prisoners currently have limited access to UNHCR to claim refugee status due to policy agreements between UNHCR and the Royal Thai Government.
The fear is that the Thai Government could repatriate all refugees back to Burma after the November 7 elections on the basis that the elections have created a legitimate Government in Burma. The Ex-Political Prisoners claim that the election will be a sham. Many potential candidates have been banned and Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.
The elections will change nothing, they claim, but simply install the junta under false pretences for a number of years to come. During this period any repatriated ex-political prisoners fear that the Junta will again persecute them.
“There are multiple examples of forced repatriation from Thailand, a violation of the Principle of Non-Refoulement which is a cornerstone of International Human Rights Law. The Royal Thai Government has clearly stated its intention of repatriating Burmese asylum seekers following the ‘democratic election’ in Burma. Our fears are well founded and should we be forced to return, with no recognition from UNHCR, we face certain imprisonment or death,” the ex political prisoners said in a signed letter to human rights organizations around the world.
NOTE TO THE EDITOR: We plead for your help. Please publish the attached letter or an article exploring our situation so that the general public is aware of the situation we face. Without help from the international community we have no further options. We have sent this letter to a number of Human Rights Lawyers and Human Rights Organizations in the hope of gaining legal representation. Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our spokesperson Aye Min Soe , also an Ex-Political Prisoner, at email@example.com (ph +66822259968).
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