Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


July 3, 2004

On May 27th, thirty-four peaceful demonstrators at the Burma Embassy in Bangkok were arrested by the Royal Thai Police. The police showed no respect, or concern, for their rights of freedom of association and expression. Three days later, on May 30th, the one year anniversary of the Depayin Massacre, and fully aware of the earlier arrests, thirteen additional individuals demonstrated at the embassy. They too were arrested.

All of the people were taken to the Immigration Detention Center on Soi Suan Phlu. Most are still being held.

Of the group of thirty-four, eight have been sent to Mae Sot for deportation into Burma and an unknown fate. One of the women left in the group, Min Tun Zin, has given birth to a daughter, Elisabeth, who is now in jail with her mother leaving a total of twenty-seven. From the group of thirteen, one person has been released and a second has been resettled to another country, leaving eleven. As of July 1st, there were a total of thirty-eight Burmese political prisoners, from many different organizations, at the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center.

The conditions at the jail are rough. Many of the prisoners have developed psychological problems, and a few, including one woman, have become seriously disturbed.

At least twelve of the prisoners have been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as Persons of Concern. Most of the others have outstanding applications, or have had their applications rejected. The UNHCR actually has an office at the Center. However, most of the prisoners have not received even a single visit from a UNHCR official. Apparently, to U.N. officials in Thailand, Persons of Concern are actually of No Concern.

On June 28th, the prisoners sent a letter to the UNHCR, asking (1) for assistance to get transferred to another facility that has better conditions, the SDC or Special Detention Center, and (2) for the U.N. to take full responsibility for them. They have received no response.

They are now asking that the above information be publicized, so people know the real situation at the IDC, and how the UNHCR is failing its mandate in Thailand, to identify and protect those refugees who are at serious risk of persecution.

For anyone interested in visiting the prisoners, please contact Dictator Watch for information about the procedure.