Thai military accused of threatening displaced fleeing conflict in Kayin

Thai military accused of threatening displaced fleeing conflict in Kayin

(Image: Fortify Rights)

An NGO has released a video from March which appears to show soldiers from the Thai military destroying a makeshift bridge allegedly used by Burmese people fleeing violence committed by Burma’s military regime in Kayin State.

The video (which may be found here) was released by human rights activists Fortify Rights and shows Thai soldiers dismantling a bamboo bridge linking Kayin territory to Thailand’s Tak province.

Thai soldiers can be overheard shouting at refugees on the Burmese side of the border, exclaiming: “What are you filming [expletive]? You want to die?”

Another video obtained from the NGO showed 45 people, including women and children, using the bridge to cross into Thailand months before authorities demolished it.

The Thai army has denied the accusations, claiming the bridge was facilitating cross-border crime.

Amy Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, called on Thai authorities to investigate the incident, arguing that the Thai government should “ensure any investigation into the situation on the border is aimed at protecting refugee rights, not further violating them.”

A Thai representative of Human Rights Watch also called on the Thai military to provide answers on the incident.

People from Burma have long fled to Thailand to escape the Burmese military’s violence yet the number of refugees has mushroomed dramatically since last year’s coup. According to the UN Refugee Agency, Thailand currently hosts over 90,000 refugees from Burma in camps along the border.

Tens of thousands more refugees are believed to have crossed to find shelter since the military began aerially assaulting the Myawaddy region, including the Lay Kay Kaw peace village, last December.