Opposition calls on government to be more compassionate in dealing with Myanmar refugee

Politicians from Thailand’s opposition parties called, on Wednesday, for the government to be more compassionate in dealing with Myanmar refugees fleeing from conflict.

Nearly 3,000 ethnic Karen refugees have tried to cross the border into Thailand seeking refuge from attacks by the Myanmar junta on ethnic areas. They were either turned away or not given assistance due to unclear policy from the government in Bangkok. (Read more here)

Rights groups working in the area say that Thai authorities have not given them access to provide medical and humanitarian aid to the refugees.

The actions by the Thai government have drawn the ire of opposition parliamentarians who say that Thailand must show more compassion.

“We should offer them refuge because Myanmar is in a precarious situation,” said Pheu Thai Deputy Leader Pichai Narithapan. “Instead the government is siding with the military junta in Myanmar for some reason.”

“It is the wrong mentality,” Pichai told Thai Enquirer. “Maybe it is because both governments came to power through a military coup and if one coup government falls they may be worried that they could be next.”

Manop Keereepuwadol, a Move Forward MP and Karen-Thai citizen, told Thai Enquirer that the situation on the border was very dire.

“We cannot push these people back because we will be pushing them into a war. That is the situation facing them in Myanmar,” he told Thai Enquirer.

“We’re calling on this government to show some humanitarianism and grant safe space. As of right now NGOs and aid groups are not even given access to the area, what is the thinking behind that?,” he said.

All aspects must be considered

Panich Vikriseth, a Democrat Party MP in the ruling coalition, said that the government was faced with a tough decision and that all aspect must be considered.

The most important aspect was the humanitarian one because the situation in Myanmar was “dire and worrying.”

However, Panich said, the government needed to access whether it had the resources and capability to ensure that refugees are Covid-19 free and be able to quarantine them and ensure the safety of Thai citizens should the government take them in.

“Our people must come first so we must make sure that all aspects are considered,” Panich said.

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