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Thousands of Burma nationals seek refuge in Thailand; New Zealand unable to block invitation to regime


Thousands of Burma nationals seek refuge in Thailand

Rental rates in Mae Sot, Thailand have risen as thousands of Burma nationals have arrived in the town to escape fighting in Karen State. Myawaddy residents have fled to Mae Sot in fear of attacks by the military after the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) seized control of the town on April 11. 

“We arranged safe houses and food for more than 300 people. People are staying in poor conditions such as garages and some places without electricity and water,” said Phoe Thingyan, the secretary of the Overseas Irrawaddy Association (OIA). Most Burma nationals are staying at hotels, guest houses, or renting homes in Mae Sot. Up to 4,000 of them have crossed into Thailand per day since April 11, which is double the usual number, according to Thai immigration authorities.

Thailand is preparing 123 sites in Tak Province to temporarily host up to 100,000 “refugees” from Burma. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that soldiers that wish to enter his country must disarm and do so as civilians. Over 70,000 people from Burma have relocated to Mae Sot, Thailand since the 2021 military coup, estimated OIA. 

Resistance group intends to abolish 1982 Citizenship Law

The Rohingya and Burmese Muslim community welcomed the decision of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) to abolish the 1982 Citizenship Law. The NUCC convened a second People’s Assembly from April 4-9. Its spokesperson Moe Thway said it is in accordance with the federal democratic charter. 

“I welcome this big move that was made by the revolutionary government. Rohingya have rights to have citizenship as they did not illegally enter Burma. There is historical evidence of them,” said Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya human rights activist. 

A lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the law should be amended rather than abolished outright. The U.N. Human Rights Office (OHCHR) called for all laws in Burma which repress ethnic nationalities and non-Buddhist communities, including the 1982 Citizenship Law, be reformed or abolished in 2022.

Protesters in Wellington, New Zealand demanded the military be disinvited from the ASEAN meeting on April 9 (Credit: Swan Myine)

New Zealand unable to block invitation to regime representative

The New Zealand High Court refused to block an invitation for Burma to attend the ASEAN dialogue in Wellington April 18-19. A lawyer representing the government told the court that by law a visa had to be granted as diplomats from the Burma embassy in Australia are accredited by Wellington. 

“Inviting representatives of the [regime] to come to a meeting in New Zealand sets a terrible precedent. Neither New Zealand or Australia have given a visa to an official of the regime to come to these countries to attend a meeting,” said Phil Twyford, a member of parliament. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has condemned the military coup but insisted he can only refuse visas to those on a travel ban list. His government has been accused of legitimizing the regime by allowing it to attend the ASEAN dialogue. Twyford added that Australia refused to offer visas to a regime representative to attend its ASEAN meeting in Melbourne last month. 

News by Region

ARAKAN—Residents of Sittwe and Kyaukphyu have been trapped by road and waterway blockades implemented by the military. The Arakan Army (AA) Commander-in-Chief Twan Mrat Naing told residents to evacuate as his forces plan on seizing Kyaukphyu and Sittwe from the military. 

“Twenty percent of residents in Sittwe are still inside the town,” said a Sittwe resident. A Kyaukphyu resident claimed that a quarter of the town’s population is trapped. The AA has seized control of nine towns since it resumed its fight against the military on Nov. 13.

MANDALAY—Regime media reported that 12 civilians, including five children, were injured by two explosives that detonated near the Mandalay Mayor Thingyan pavilion on Sunday. The regime accused the People’s Defense Force (PDF) and National Unity Government (NUG) of committing the attack. 

“This is the festival for everyone in Burma and the world, and does not just belong to one government. We saw that the terrorist NUG and PDF have committed violent acts during the festival,” said Zaw Min Tun, the regime spokesperson, without providing any evidence.

Three civilians, including two monks, were killed and eight others were injured in Pyin Oo Lwin on Sunday. Rockets reportedly hit the Defense Services Academy, Defense Services Technology Academy, and Pyin Oo Lwin Hospital orthopedics department. Regime leader Min Aung Hlaing was visiting Pyin Oo Lwin when the attack occurred, according to regime media reports.

MON—Naing Balauk, the chairperson of the Mon Unity Party in Paung Township, was killed at his home in Thabyuchaung village on April 13. “Gunmen shot him in the chest and he died on the spot,” said a Paung resident. His son escaped from an attack by gunmen in August 2023.

SHAN—Two civilians were killed and many others were injured after the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the PDF attacked the military at a monastery in Thayatkone village, Nawnghkio Township, on Monday. “It happened all of the sudden and many of us had to flee without taking anything,” said a Thayatkone resident. A retaliatory airstrike destroyed homes and displaced an unknown number of residents. 

Read our latest: Maung Zarni nominated for 2024 Nobel Peace Prize.


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