EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 16/09/94
UA 285/94 Fear of Torture / Fear for safety 22 July 1994
MYANMAR16 men from Plat Hon Pai section, Kwan Saya village, Halockhani refugee
Amnesty International fears for the safety of 16 men taken from a refugee camp
on the Thai border by members of the Myanmar army on 21 July 1994.
At 8am on 21 July, 360 soldiers from the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Myanmar
Army (the tatmadaw) entered Plat Hon Pai section, Kwan Saya village, part of
Halockhani refugee camp. The troops called a meeting of the 500 residents,
and later in the day attempted to enter the main section of the camp some 40
minutes walk to the east. They were driven back by soldiers from the armed
wing of the New Mon State Party who had arrived in the area on hearing of the
army presence in the camp (the New Mon State Party is fighting for independence
from the central government of Myanmar).
The tatmadaw soldiers returned to Plat Hon Pai village where they torched half
the 120 houses. They then left, taking with them 16 men, eight of whom were
handcuffed. Amnesty International has learned that some of these men are the
leaders of the refugee camp.
The tatmadaw often take villagers in Myanmar from ethnic minority areas to
work as porters. Amnesty International knows of many cases where such people
have been tortured by the tatmadaw, and sometimes killed.
Halockhani refugee camp is situated on the border of Thailand and Myanmar,
and there is some dispute as to which country the camp is in. Civilian refugees
from the Mon ethnic minority live in the camp, many of whom were moved there
in 1993 from Lah Lo refugee camp in Thailand by the Thai authorities. The
area around the camp, known as Three Pagodas Pass, has been the centre of several
confrontations between the tatmadaw and the Mon armed forces. Most of the
refugees fled from fighting in the Mon state in Myanmar, and to escape being
taken to work as porters or labourers by the tatmadaw.
The government in Myanmar, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)
took power in 1988, following the crushing of a country-wide popular uprising.
Despite the holding of democratic elections in 1988, the SLORC has refused
to hand over power.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes and airmail letters either
in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of the 16 men who have been taken from
Halockhani refugee camp by members of the 62nd Battalion of the Myanmar army
- urging that the 16 men are released immediately and unconditionally;
- calling upon the government to ensure that civilian refugees are not subjected
to any further attacks by the tatmadaw, and that those responsible for the
attack on Halockhani camp be brought to justice.
General Than Shwe